Woman who sacrificed so much for ace’s career had battled Alzheimer’s
Tributes have been paid to the mother of former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine, who has died.
Kathleen Irvine (nee McGowan) passed away peacefully on July 2.
A death notice described her an “amazing mother” to the Conlig man and his sister Sonia, and a “loving wife of Edmund… and fun-loving granny of Zoe, Megan and Katie”.
On one of the former driver’s latest Instagram posts, dozens of condolence messages paid tribute to his mum.
One person said: “So sorry for your loss Kathleen was a gentle soul.”
Another wrote: Sad to hear about your mother Mr Irvine, condolences. I lost mine at Christmas, it’s very tough.”
A well-wisher recalled Mrs Irvine’s support for his fledgling racing career.
“Remember watching a documentary on you years ago and your mum talked about sewing up your early days racing balaclavas drink hole… RIP,” they said.
Sister Sonia, who is based in Monaco, reflected on how the lockdown had prevented her from travelling to visit her mum in a North Down residential home.
In 2016 she revealed that Mrs Irvine had been placed into care after being diagnosed with dementia. At the time she was 77.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last August, Sonia explained: “One of the worst aspects of lockdown was not being able to fly over to Northern Ireland and visit my mum.
"She has Alzheimer's disease and is in a nursing home.
"The staff there are great and have handled Covid extremely well, so mum is in good hands. But I do miss her."
Sonia previously told how allowing her mum to go into a care home was the toughest decision she, Eddie and dad Edmund had to make.
"It was really hard for us," she said.
"We found out about her illness after we got a brain scan done.
"Things she was doing... you realised that they weren't appropriate.
"With my mum, we always laughed about it because she was always a little bit eccentric in her ways, so we'd laugh and say she was doing eccentric things.
"For a while we didn't really register the illness, because she was always like that.
"She probably had it a lot longer than the diagnosis."
Mrs Irvine and her husband — affectionately known as ‘Big Ed’ — remortgaged their family home in Conlig to help fund Eddie’s early career in motorsport.
Mrs Irvine had worked as a home help and her husband ran a garage business as their children grew up.
The ex-driver, who is estimated to be worth in excess of £100m, got his first taste of racing when the family attended the British Grand Prix.