Jessie Stewart

Jessie Stewart, Isle of Lismore

It was with great sadness that islanders learnt of the death of Jessie Stewart at the Mill at Balnagowan on Saturday 29 January 2011.

The following eulogy was given at her funeral on 4 February in the parish church of St Moluag Lismore by her niece Sylvia Clark, daughter of Jessieís sister the late Morag Ross.

Sylvia said:

Jessie Stewart was born at the Mill, Lismore in July 1925, the 2nd daughter of Dugald and Alice MacCormick and younger sister of the Morag (Ross). Jessie grew up on the farm where she learnt skills that were to stand her in good stead in the years to come: haymaking, milking, as well as looking after hens, pigs, and horses.

Hers was a household where hospitality was always on offer and the seeds of running a guest house were planted when her parents let the house out in the summer months and the MacCormick family moved into the barn. As a teenager, Jessie left school to work in the shop, where many a prank was carried out along side her colleagues Margaret Laggen, Davy Coultart and Jim Corrigan. By this time Jessie had become a very beautiful young lady and had many an offer of courtship. The members of the RAF who frequented the island also noticed this fine young lady!

In 1954, Jessie and Joe were married and yes they lived at the Mill. Life, as is so often the case, was not a straight line but had lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. Farming was hard work and with three daughters to raise, Joe and Jessie continued to work hard. As well as her duties as a mother and farmerís wife Jessie collected whelks, alongside Cathy and Mary MacCormick, while also taxi driving, hairdressing, being the school dinner cook, the school taxi and a landlady. Jessie did everything with a smile and her arms extended in hospitality. Her home was always open, just like her arms and her heart, and a warm welcome awaited everyone with great baking always on the go. Jessie's pancake and shortbread skills have been passed on to three special people here today, Flora, Shannon and Shayne and they will tell you that their Granny's standard is not an easy one to reach! Over the years, Jessie also developed her love of gardening and spent many happy hours letting her green fingers bring flowers to life and later, when she wasn't as fit for gardening, she tried her best to encourage Anna and Janette to keep the garden in order. Sometimes all of us would be hard at work doing what we thought was the right thing with certain bushes only to hear Jessie telling us where we were going wrong.

Jessie took an active part in island life, joining in community activities such as bowling, badminton, the Church Guild, and whist drives as well as offering endless help and energy at Sales of Work and fund raising events. Jessie was also an enthusiastic member of the over 60's club and enjoyed many a trip away, even venturing south of the border.

Jessie was widowed at a relatively early age being just in her 50s when Joe died. However, the strength that we all came to admire and love surfaced again and family life continued. Through the coming years, Jessie was blessed with additions to her family, with Alison bringing 3 grandchildren Carol, Duncan and Flora and a great granddaughter Shannon, Janette with her two boys Sam and Sandy and Anna with Shayne. The Mill at times seemed to have expanding walls with Jessie's heart always warm and welcoming.

Latterly, life was not easy when she lost her oldest daughter Alison and then her own health. However, as always, her resilience shone through, helped by her strong faith and her equally strong belief in family.

As part of Jessie's family, Sandy has asked that I pass on a message to you from him: we are to keep in our minds that we are not only here to say goodbye to Jessie but here to say thank you to her and promise her that we will always remember her.

Jessie is at peace now and to finish I'd like to read this short poem:

Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place, the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower,
the truth of the blossom:
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

Sylvia Clark

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