A service of thanksgiving was held in Omagh Methodist Church for the life of Mrs. May Hamill, who passed away on Sunday, September 11. 

Conducted by the Minister, the Rev. Eleanor Hayden, it was attended by a large congregation of family and friends, reflecting the high esteem in which she was held by the local community.

Evelyn May Hamill, the daughter of John and Sydney Wilson, and one of nine children, six girls and three boys, was born on December 10, 1927.

May, the fifth member of the family, grew up on her father’s farm overlooking Lough Erne, in the townland of Drumhoney near Kesh.

May was just in her early teens when the Second World War came to Fermanagh, an event which dramatically disrupted life in the peaceful lakelands. She often recalled how, for a young girl, war could be both exciting and frightening. From their farm, she could watch and hear the Catalina and Sunderland flying boats of the RAF taking off from Castle Archdale.

She also remembered how they never needed to carry hurricane lamps around the farmyard at night because of the strong floodlights at the air base, which lit up the whole countryside and how, when walking home from school with her friends, the American GIs would throw them coins and chocolate bars from their Jeeps.

Over the years, May never lost her empathy with Fermanagh, or her family connections with her place of birth. Even in later life she took great delight in driving her grandchildren on Sunday afternoons, through the Fermanagh countryside, pointing out to them what remained of her old school house at Ardess, the Parish Church she had attended, the remains of Castle Archdale and the scenic roads above the lakes. 

On June 21, 1949, May married James Hamill, Principal of Augher Central Primary School. Together, they took an active part in the social life of the village, participating in church activities, plays, concert parties, Young Farmers’ Club and any number of events in the Augher Playing Fields right beside the school.

Previously employed in the Post Office in Kesh and at Head Office in Enniskillen, May, in due course, became Post Mistress in Augher Post Office.

She was also for many years a volunteer member of the local branch of the Royal Observer Corps. This organisation was established to track enemy aircraft and monitor radiation levels during the Cold War years. Apart from her obligatory training sessions to enable her to recognise different types of aircraft, she and her colleagues were required on their duty rotas, to occupy a post in an underground bunker on the slopes of Knockmany Hill. 

The Women’s Institute was a major interest in May’s life. She was a founding member and President of Augher W.I. and her involvement in the organisation continued for many years. In due course, she became Executive Member for the W.I. in Northern Ireland, representing the Clogher Valley Area.

Her other interests, including the Methodist Womens’ Association, Ladies Probus, her Art Club and the Oxfam Shop in Omagh, all provided her with great company and friendship. 

In 1984, when James Hamill retired, he and May moved to Omagh. Sadly, James passed away in 1989, but May showed her characteristic inner strength in facing life without him and with encouragement from her family, she was always willing to accept new challenges. She always remained young at heart, through her close relationship with her nine adored grandchildren and her two great-grandchildren.

May lived life to the full and was blessed with excellent health and energy right up until the last few years. She had an excellent grasp of current affairs and was a voracious reader. Her extensive general knowledge meant she was often chosen to represent the W.I. and Ladies’ Probus in inter club competitions. 

Mrs. Hamill, who would have turned 89 on December 10 is survived by her sister Violet, four daughters, Rosalind, Miranda, Juliet and Diana, sons-in-law Alex, John, Victor and Patrick and her extended family circle.