Five minutes before she died, as a result of a Chordoma, Anita O'Brien (pictured right), of Kilmokea Cottage, Ardess, Kesh - whose husband Paul O'Brien, a member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service died in a road traffic accident in February 2009 - called her three cherished daughters to reaffirm her love for them.
A close family member explained that Riona, 13, Evie, 11, and nine-year-old Tiana had gone on a family visit to Cork on Good Friday morning with their uncle Patrick (their late father's brother) when their mother, who was always protective of them, subsequently called them and reminded them that she would always be near them to guide and protect them on their journey in life; she died shortly after 3pm, surrounded by family members.
"She called them her little angels," said the family member, adding that she also referred to them as "her butterflies".
In fact, a poem, penned by Anita, who had a special talent for poetry and literacy, was read at the end of the funeral mass on Easter Sunday. Written to her wee girls, it referred to them as butterflies and reassured them "to go spread their wings" and that their mother and father would be near them.
The funeral service, a Mass of the Resurrection was held in St. Joseph's Church, Ederney. It was led by the Rev. Fr. Brendan Gallagher, who delivered the Homily, and thought it was no coincidence that the girls were away. He said: "She spent her short lifetime doing everything she could to protect them, in her dying she was also being careful to protect them." Family members took part in the service, sharing in the readings, prayers and bringing up gifts to the altar. Burial took place in St. Naile's Churchyard, Kinawley. There were huge attendances at the services and also at the wake reflecting the high regard felt for Anita, a devoted wife and dedicated mother who just lived for her three daughters.
Although she had been unwell for the past four years, she dedicated her life to the girls.
She had a strong will and determination and she battled for her daughters. "They were the centre of her universe," indicated the family member, who said her main aim in life was devoted to her children. "She is at peace with Paul now - looking down and guiding the three children with Paul," believes the family member.
Anita, formerly Maguire, a daughter of the late Eugene and Teresa Maguire was raised on a farm in Kinawley. She was educated at St. Naile's primary school, Kinawley, and Mount Lourdes Convent Grammar School, Enniskillen, before continuing her studies at Magee University, where she achieved a Masters in Business Studies. The main part of her career was spent at Fermanagh College. Her interests were chiefly her home and family and she enjoyed gardening. She was very creative and very artistic and loved writing poetry; literacy was her strong point.
Anita is immediately survived by her daughters, Riona, Evie and Tiana; her sisters Angela, Helen and Carmel and her only brother Patrick; she leaves her mother-in-law Maura O'Brien, brothers-in-law Patrick O'Brien, Alan McCormick and Richard Owens, and sisters-in-law, Sharon O'Brien and Nuala Maguire; cherished nieces and nephews; the wider family circle and her many friends.
The family is very thankful to everyone for their support at this time. They acknowledge the support that Anita and the children received following Paul's death from the local community and the whole wider community. "It was exceptional," said the family member, who is deeply appreciative of the backing received.