Warm tributes have been paid to the late centenarian Joan Reilly, following her recent passing in her 104th year.

Mrs. Reilly was a popular figure in the local community, known for her work alongside her husband, Dr. Cormac Reilly, in the Maguiresbridge area.

Paying tribute on behalf of the family, Joan’s son, Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, remembered “a loving mother” who had “a quick wit”.

Joan was born in Mallow, Co Cork on November 26, 1919, and was named Johanna Elizabeth Clune, after her mother. Her father, James, was a shopkeeper and had a premises in Limerick.

Joan was the last surviving child and grew up with her siblings, brothers Jack and Michael, and with sisters Peggy and Bonnie.

The family moved to Dublin in the mid 1920s, apparently related to an incident connected with the Irish Civil War, where Joan’s father survived an attempt on his life.

Recalling family folklore, Monsignor O’Reilly said: “The story in the family is that she saw her future husband, Cormac Reilly, when she was 12 years old and he was an 18-year-old student for medicine at Trinity College.”

They married in Clontarf on January 1, 1938, when Joan was 18. They lived in Dublin during the Second World War, when her first two sons were born, Philip and Cormac.

“They came to Fermanagh around the time when the NHS was being established, and Dr. Cormac started a medical practice at Maguiresbridge.”

In Maguiresbridge, they had three further children: Peter, Siobhán and Gráinne.

Joan was a key worker in the doctor’s surgery. Explaining his mother’s role, Monsignor O’Reilly said: “She took the phone calls, assisted with the filing, and helped to prepare the various bottled medicine mixtures.


“She made sure Dr. Reilly’s medical bag was stocked with the necessary bandages, sutures, threads, needles and instruments, and prepared the basket of medicines for the twice-weekly surgery in Brookeborough.

“She accompanied him on his trips around the area.”

He added: “Most memorably, she was called in whenever a child had to receive an injection or a stitch, in order to distract the child with a toy or a rattle or a sweet at the key moment.”

When Dr. Reilly retired in 1985, the couple lived next door to their original home house, and they remained close to his successor in the practice, Dr. Michael Smyth, who was by then his son-in-law, married to Gráinne.

Dr. Reilly passed away in December, 1989. Some years later, in 2017, the year after Dr. Smyth retired, Joan moved with Gráinne and husband, the now retired son-in-law Michael, to live in Belfast.

Speaking of his mother’s later years, Monsignor O’Reilly said: “She enjoyed a quiet life, still mobile, still focused in mind.

“She was an avid reader herself, reading The Irish Times and a Sunday newspaper into her 100th years.

“Her 100th birthday was a memorable occasion, with many gifts of flowers, which she loved.

“She received her card from The Queen and a wonderfully warm letter, plus a cheque, from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.”

Despite the pandemic, Joan never caught the Covid-19 virus. However, the pandemic restrictions meant no outings and visits for her.


“Her life became quieter and, though she could still get in and out of the car, though she could still go out for coffee, her strength was noticeably affected by last Christmas,” said Monsignor O’Reilly.

Joan died peacefully after a short illness on Friday, March 10. The funeral took place the following March 13 at St. Brigid’s Church, Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast.

Joan was laid to rest beside her husband in Maguiresbridge that afternoon.

Mrs. Joan Reilly was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Cormac Reilly, and is survived by her children, Professor Phillip (Isobel), Cormac (Mary), Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, Siobhán (Liam McCartney) and Gráinne (Dr. Michael Smyth), as well as her nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were carried out by Marcus Madill Funeral Directors.

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