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  • Northside West

Moving tribute to tragic family

Wednesday, 19th April, 2017 8:00am

Story by Jack Gleeson
Moving tribute to tragic family

RIP: The late Behan siblings.

Moving tribute to tragic family

RIP: The late Behan siblings.

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THE community in Ballymun is coming together this Friday (April 21) to show their love and support for a local mum who lost six of her seven adult children over a devastating 10-year period.

Kathleen Behan moved to Ballymun with her husband Matty in the mid ‘60s from a room in her grandmother’s home in Pearse Street and was one of the first tenants in Coultry.

“It was a three bedroom flat, it was like moving into a hotel,” she recalls.

“I wouldn’t move out of Ballymun, even if I won the Lotto. The neighbours are great.”

Kathleen and her only surviving child, Ann, have fond memories of those early years in Ballymun when the new estate was seen as prime location to live in.

“You could leave your door open,” says Kathleen. “We used to go to each other’s houses on a Friday for chips and eggs.”

Ann also remembers an idyllic childhood playing with her younger siblings. 

“I’d be minding them all when we were out playing,” she says. “We’d be playing skipping and hopscotch and all that.

“There was flowers on the balcony and the place was kept clean and the kids were involved in all that and looked after the area.”

Sadly, the family’s happiness didn’t last when the children grew up. Matty died from a massive heart attack in 1991 and blighted with high unemployment, drug dealing and an increasingly transient population, Ballymun began to decay.

The regeneration project promised to reverse the trend but the economic downturn threw a spanner in the works.

Many of the Behans lost their jobs and Kathleen believes the crisis played a part in the loss of her children (pictured right).

Martin (35) took his own life in 2006 and four years later Terry (44), who suffered ill health, passed away. Just months later, Matthew (41) died from bronchial pneumonia.

In 2014 Tony (36) went missing and was found dead after a two-day search and the following year Karen (47) and Peter (41) both passed away.

“Every one of them were workers,” says Ann. “After the Celtic Tiger when they lost their jobs, they went downhill from there. They were great workers, like myself and like my Ma, but they got into a rut.

“For me, they’re all up there together and they’re all looking after my ma now. “They were all very good and the only ones they hurt were themselves. It’s all very sad.”

Kathleen worked as a cleaner in DCU, Arnotts and the Virgin Mary school and later helping bring children with special needs to school.

However, the family ran into financial problems and Kathleen was forced to sell her home to pay off debts and she moved into a mobile home.

She says the support of family and friends has helped her cope with the grief. And the local community will once again rally around the family at Axis on Main Street this Friday.

Local band, QED (pictured above), will take to the stage in a fundraiser to remember the Behans who passed away and to let Kathleen and Ann know they’ll always have support in Ballymun.

Tickets are now sold out but bass player, Pat Daly, says the gig is more about showing support to a local family who’ve been through so much than it is about raising money.

“It’s just about a community coming together to give Kathleen a bit of support,” he said.

QED were a popular Dublin band in the ‘80s and reformed three years ago to raise funds for the Andy Morgan Foundation - a charity named after their drummer who lost his life to suicide.

They’ve played occasional gigs since then, mostly fundraising events, and were more than happy to do something for Kathleen and Ann.

“Our guitarist, Mick (Fitzgerald), came to the band and said some friends of the Behans asked would be do the gig in memory of those who passed away,” Pat explained.

 “It’s really tragic when you think about it so we wanted to so something for Kathleen.

“The businesses in Ballymun have been great to us and there’ll be some raffles on the night and any money raised will be presented to Kathleen and it’s the community’s way of saying we remember your children and acknowledge the hardship that you’ve been through.”

Ballymun band, QED.

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