Obituary: Mary McCaughan Brown

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Mary McCaughan Brown, daughter of Jack and Minnie McCaughan from Knocklayde View, Ballycastle, led a full and varied life, providing education and kind counsel to many.

Originally educated at Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle, Mary went on to earn a BA (Hons) degree in Education at the New University of Ulster in Coleraine while raising her young son and daughter. In the late 80s she earned a Post Graduate Diploma of Personnel Management from the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, and in later life a Diploma in Counselling, also from Jordanstown. In the 1980s Mary put her teaching qualifications and skills to use in the Ballycastle Community Workshop (Youth Training Programme), teaching life skills, literacy, numeracy, and many other subjects to 16 to 18 year olds. She was a supportive and positive influence in the lives of many young people who passed through the training programme, as evidenced by those who returned later to thank her and tell her how well they were doing in their new jobs or chosen careers. During this time Mary was actively involved in community events and initiated the ‘Moyle Monthly’, a community newsletter which was prepared by the young people, and eagerly awaited by locals each month.

In the 1990s-2000s Mary worked for the London-based Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), initially as Professional Development Officer for Northern Ireland, and later as Business Development Manager for all of Ireland. This role took Mary all over the world, looking after the CIMA training and development of clients such as Rolls Royce and Unilever. She most enjoyed her time spent working for the Australian branch of CIMA in Sydney at the time of the millennium and Sydney Olympics!

In her 50s Mary retrained to become a professional counsellor, working for the Ballycastle health centre and in private practice. Her strong desire to help people led her to volunteer for the local Cruse bereavement counselling service based in Ballymoney and the local Parents Advice Centre in Ballymena with its telephone counselling service, ‘Parents Helpline’. Mary also started Ballycastle’s Women’s Health and Encouragement Network (WHEN), for women who are alone as a result of separation, divorce or bereavement.

Mary enjoyed sporting and artistic pursuits too. She was a talented painter, and creative writer, and she loved knitting and crochet, passing these skills onto others. She was a founding member of the folk choir at St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s church in Ballycastle, and was an enthusiastic member of the Ballycastle writers’ group. She even learned how to play the guitar in recent years, and performed her own composition at the Auckland Folk Festival on a recent trip to New Zealand. She loved to golf and ski.

Above all else Mary loved her family and especially delighted in her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, encouraging and supporting them to partake in all that life has to offer, especially travel, sport, music and art.

Mary passed away on 24th March 2011. She is survived by her daughter Melanie, son Shane, grandchildren Conan, Grace, Eddie, Jack and Liam, and a wide family circle.