Tributes have been paid following the death of one of the final residents of Cleenish Island on Lough Erne.

Bella Whitley (née Balfour) passed away on June 2, 2021, Bella and her late brother Samuel were the sole residents of the remote Fermanagh island for many years. Her daughter Joy Coalter led the tributes on behalf of the family.

Joy paid tribute to her mother who was “very caring and very supportive. She always made sure you were well looked after and well fed".

Born on October 10, 1938, Bella was the youngest of the five Balfour siblings; Ellie, Olive, Samuel, Margaret and John.

Bella’s father John was one of 11 soldiers who were granted a home and land on Cleenish Island following World War I as part of the 1919 (Sailors and Soldiers) Land Act. John lived on the island until his death at 101 and operated a cot between the shore at Bellanaleck and the island until a bridge was built in 1956.

Speaking on her mother’s life, Joy said: “Mother was born on the island of Cleenish near Bellanaleck and she attended the old Jones Memorial Primary School. In her teenage years she helped out on the farm until she married.

“She was much into the farming, and we were told by some people at her funeral that she would have worked twice as hard as any man and lifted twice as many bales.”

Speaking on her mother’s working life, Joy said: “She then started work in the Erne Hospital as a Domestic Assistant on surgical ward. She worked there for around 25 years where she made many lifelong friends. She thoroughly enjoyed her time there.

“In the early 1990s she started work in the Tempo Road Day Centre yet again forming friendships with work colleagues and clients that went to the Day Centre. Around 1995 she retired to look after her father who had reached his 100th year.”

Following her father’s death, Bella and her brother were the island's sole residents until September 2016 when they moved off the island to live closer to Enniskillen. Bella was incredibly close to her brother Sam and died exactly three years after him.

Bella was a devoted grandmother and incredibly fond of her family. Joy said: “Mother enjoyed spending time with family, especially her grandchildren and was heavily involved with them when they were young earning the title ‘Supergran’.

Bella kept a close circle of friends and “enjoyed going on holidays to Portrush and to Southern Ireland, socialising and attending the Legion for the dances on a Saturday night".

Bella is survived by her daughters Sharon and Joy and her grandchildren; Stuart, Emma and Connor. She was predeceased by her grandson Adam and her siblings Ellie, Olive, Samuel, Margaret and John.

Bella’s funeral service was in Cleenish Parish Church took place on June 5, 2021. The service was conducted by Canon Geoffrey Bridle, she was buried in the adjoining church yard. Prior to her burial her cortege took Bella on one last journey around Cleenish Island.

Funeral arrangements were carried out by Austen Stinson, W.T Morrison Funeral Directors.