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Remembering the late Mary Chundee
12 October 2022

I would like to pay a tribute to a very special person, who sadly passed away on September 29 – my good friend and a great champion of neglected, abandoned and mistreated animals, Mary Chundee.

Mary, along with her husband Sonah and a group of volunteers, set up Friends of Animals Rescue Centre at her home in Cullionbeg in 1995. From that time to their retirement, a huge number of dogs were rescued and rehomed, and several cats and other animals were given sanctuary at the centre, including hens from battery farms that had known only tiny cramped cages.

When my own cat, Blondie, went missing many years ago, having climbed into my car engine and been transported away. Mary turned up at my door three weeks later with Blondie in her arms. She had been contacted by a member of the public about a stray cat. Everyone in town knew who to contact about a stray animal.

Mary was a force of nature, who loved nature, animals and people. She was so inspirational, full of positivity and ‘can do’. Nothing was impossible in her world, and she infected everyone around her with that positivity. In the months before her illness, Mary had been volunteering at Columb Barracks, Mullingar, in aid of Ukrainian relief.

Mary was multi-talented, artistic and a keen gardener. Long before popular programmes like Groundforce and Super Garden, Mary was transforming her friends’ gardens, creating lovely spaces full of colour and interest.

Mary will be deeply missed by her husband Sonah, son John, daughter-in-law Leona, her brothers and sister, nieces and nephews, many friends and her neighbours in Walshestown.

Mary was unique, a one-off. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

Aideen Yourell

(Westmeath Topic, 13 October 2022)

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