Belfast Telegraph

Together for more than 60 years, the devoted Fermanagh couple who passed away within weeks of each other

By Cate McCurry

A Co Fermanagh couple married for more than 60 years died just weeks apart in the same nursing home.

Margaret and Joseph McMulkin died before they would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

The pair, from Irvinestown, had been together in the nursing home for 18 months, but Margaret, who was also known as Rita, died on October 17.

Her husband Joe then passed away on November 9.

Their son Liam said his dad "lost the will" to go on after his mother's death.

"It was more to do with giving up the ghost after mum died," he said.

"Dad really did deteriorate after her funeral.

"He was able to go to it but he did get weaker and did a fair bit of grieving.

"Mum died of natural causes and dad suffered three strokes a couple of years ago.

"He also developed a tumour," Liam said.

After losing his speech, Joe, who was a former sergeant in the Army, went into County Care Nursing Home in Enniskillen.

"Dad was there for three years while mum went in 18 months ago," he added.

"Mum also suffered from dementia and arthritis.

"She was in good enough form but had regressed and became forgetful. While dad lost his speech, he was still mentally sharp and he and mum would communicate in some form as they sat beside each other in the communal area.

"It did both of them good when they were together.

"When it came to her funeral, it was the soldier in him that helped him get through it.

"He acknowledged everyone that went but then he went downhill and looked like he had no will to go on.

"They were so close and were always together.

"After mum died we talked to him a lot about her and he seemed to do a lot of thinking and reflecting. They were at school together and knew each other for a very long time."

The couple would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary the day after Joe passed away.

Margaret and Joe were also buried in the same graveyard.

During Margaret's early years she worked as a cleaner, maid and cook in various places before she married Joe in November 1952.

She lived in "married quarters" while Joe served in the army.

As a young man, Joe worked for a contractor before enlisting in the army.

He first served with the Royal Engineers in 1949 then, in 1951, he transferred to the North Irish Brigade.

Joe then served with the Inniskilling Fusiliers until 1969 when he left the army.

During his time in the army he served in Cyprus, Egypt and Kenya as well as various postings in the UK.

He was also awarded the military medal - an award given for bravery and gallantry.

Throughout his career, Joe quickly attained the rank of corporal and rose to the rank of sergeant before his discharge with an exemplary record.

The couple are survived by their three sons Martin, Ned, Liam and daughter Shelia.

Belfast Telegraph

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