Taoiseach and GAA chief at funeral

GAA President Liam O'Neill: in attendance
GAA President Liam O’Neill: in attendance

MOURNERS at the funeral mass of Mrs Maureen Cooper were reminded of a woman who had a smile made of sunshine and whose main goal in life was to be the best mother she could be.

In a poignant and beautifully delivered tribute to her late mum, Karen Cooper said the values the seven Cooper children learned from their parents have stayed with them right through life and taught them was what important.

“The foundation she and dad gave us shaped our destiny. It matured us and helped us to believe in ourselves and pursue our dreams.

“Anything we have accomplished was because of their influence,” Karen told the packed congregation at the Church of the Resurrection, Killarney this Saturday morning.

She spoke of a loving, generous mother with a gentle heart who never really grew old.

Reflecting on her late mother’s full and varied life, she told how she grew up in Cromane and later moved to the UK where she worked for several years with Heinz.

She met her husband, Mike, on a trip home and although she returned to England, she came back to Kerry when Mike wrote to say he wasn’t well and asked her to come back.

“Mam, of course, came home and found out it was only tonsilitis – the rest is history,” Karen smiled.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: sympathy
Taoiseach Enda Kenny: sympathy

Mrs Cooper, who turned 72 last July, loved the simple things in life and hated fuss. She was a regular at Sunday night bingo in the Conroy Hall, loved attending St Anthony’s Novena Tuesdays in the Franciscan Friary and enjoyed nothing more than being driven around town to soak in the atmosphere on the streets before finishing the trip with an ice-cream cone from Daly’s.

She loved travelling and had enjoyed trips to London, Spain, Portugal and New York in recent years.

Although illness entered her life last March, she remained remarkably positive and active, even travelling to Nenagh last month to watch her granddaughter, Ciara, winning an All-Ireland Under 14 medal with the Kerry footballers.

Karen told how she herself announced her engagement to her boyfriend, Kevin, just last week and her mother had celebrated with them, delighted that Kevin had asked her permission for her daughter’s hand in marriage.

One of the proudest days of her life was when her five sons, Danny, Mark, Mike, Vince and Colm, were on the Dr Crokes panel that won a Kerry senior football championship with Dr Crokes in 2000 and although she was a nervous spectator at games, she followed the Kerry team with great enthusiasm.

Fitzgerald Stadium: training sessions
Fitzgerald Stadium: training sessions

There was spontaneous laughter in the church and many eyes turned to Kerry team trainer Eamonn Fitzmaurice when Karen quipped: “She was also known to attend Kerry training sessions…. that’s when the gates were open.”

She said her mother had been the main person behind Colm’s remarkable success as a footballer and there had always been a special bond between them as they had their own routine leading up to matches.

Gifts brought to the altar to symbolise Mrs Cooper’s life included a family photograph, a relic of St Anthony to whom she had great devotion, a bunch of roses to illustrate her love of gardening, a radio and newspaper and a bingo book.

Chief celebrant Fr Kevin McNamara, who concelebrated the Requiem Mass with 11 other priests, told how Mrs Cooper always had the welcome mat out at her home in Ardshanavooley and he was a regular visitor to the Cooper home where there was always great fun and some terrific home baking and cooking.

“She was one of the kindest to ever come out of Ardshan,” he said.

Fr McNamara said Mrs Cooper loved Puck Fair and she will now have a great view of this year’s festival.

“She will have the best seat in the house for Kerry training sessions too, whether the gates are closed or not,” he smiled.

The Church of the Resurrection
The Church of the Resurrection

Eamonn Fitzmaurice and several members of the Kerry squad sat together in the church and also in attendance was GAA President Liam O’Neill who was accompanied by former Kerry County Board Chairman, Sean Walsh.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among the dignatories to sympathise with the Cooper family at the removal service on Friday evening.

Following the Requiem Mass, the cortege wound its way along Park Road, pausing outside the Cooper home in Ardshanavooley and again outside the Franciscan Friary, before continuing the journey to Aghadoe Lawn Cemetery where she was laid to rest beside her beloved husband Mike.