Miss Rosetta McCann

THE death in hospital last week of Rosetta McCann has robbed Downpatrick and the wider community of East Down of a much loved citizen who in her own highly individual way had contributed so much in service, in charity and in loving care.

Rosetta was a prominent and much respected member of the community for almost half a century, both in her professional life which brought her into contact with many hundreds of mentally ill patients and their families, and in a long and active retirement devoted to charitable works, to friendship and good neighbourliness.

A member of a prominent Dundalk family, well known in the fruit business in Ireland and world-wide, Rosetta came to Downpatrick in the mid 1960s and quickly adopted the town as her home.

Initially on the staff of the then Co. Down Welfare Committee, and later of the Eastern Board, she was a psychiatric social worker mainly attached to the Downshire Hospital. She soon became known as a tireless advocate for all her patients and clients.

For her they were not mere case-numbers, figures in a file or statistics, but individual human beings with their varied problems and needs, and she gave to each the care and the respect which a cruel fate or a harsh environment had often denied them. She fought assiduously for each, determined to ensure that they got whatever service, support, aids or appliances they required to alleviate their condition or make life more tolerable for them and their families.

And when official provision fell short, for rules or lack of funds, she often made up the deficiency quietly from her own resources.

In retirement she continued most of the interests she had developed in her professional career, and maintained her support, from the essential goodness of her heart, for many of those who had come to depend on her for practical assistance or psychological support. For those in need there was a well-beaten path to her ever open door. She had a particular genius for friendship, and for being able to offer help quietly and unobtrusively without creating any sense of obligation in the recipient.

Rosetta was a tireless and very successful fundraiser for a variety of charities, most of them connected with mental illness or disability, a work in which she was active until the last year of her life. She was an active member of Downpatrick and Ardglass Golf Clubs and their bridge sections. A quietly religious person, she was a true ecumenist who got on with everyone, regardless of class or creed. She loved company, and her last year was spent very happily among good friends and a caring staff in Lecale Lodge Nursing Home.

Well known in the town as a slightly absent-minded lady who could forget where she had parked her car, or even that she had a car at all, she never forgot her friends or those who had been colleagues or workmates. She never lost contact, never failed to remember an anniversary to celebrate or an occasion for sympathy and support.

Rosetta McCann cared for the sick, she brought comfort to the casualties of society, the weak, the poor, and the infirm. She enriched society by her life and work, and simply by being herself. She has left a memory which many people in this town and district will cherish and celebrate.