Mrs. Phyllis Bell

MRS. Phyllis Bell, of 3 Downpatrick Road, Crossgar passed away on April 19, 2014, aged 89.

Phyllis was born to the late Thomas and Anna Maria Breen of the Corner House, Market Street, Downpatrick, on April 25, 1924. After attending St Michael’s School in Lurgan, she was one of the earliest Irish students to attend a Catholic teacher training college in England.

In 1942, as an 18 year-old and in the midst of the Second World War, she undertook an arduous journey to Nympsfield in Gloucestershire to begin her training.

On her return to Ireland, she took up various teaching roles, including a position at St Joseph’s Primary School, Crossgar, in the late 1940s. In Crossgar she was to meet her future husband, Kevin, and they married at Ballykilbeg Chapel in April 1950.

Phyllis had 13 children — ten daughters and three sons — and according to practice at that time, was required to resign from her teaching role at St Joseph’s following the birth of her first child.

She was a dedicated mother and immersed herself in community life in Crossgar. She was a talented musician and was invited to take responsibility for the choir in the Church of the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph for a period of more than 30 years, with her ten daughters forming a key role in the choir.

As a reflection of her commitment to the local church, she had her wedding dress made into beautiful Marian vestments for the parish and she personally raised substantial funds in the 1970s to replace the church organ.

Phyllis lost her beloved husband, Kevin, in May 2000, having just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary the previous month.

In her latter years she retained a keen interest in music and art, and kept abreast of current affairs, but it was from her children and grandchildren that she derived most enjoyment.

She never missed a birthday and never tired of catching up with the news from her large family circle. Her words of comfort and gentle advice will be greatly missed.

Phyllis will be remembered as a central figure in community and parish life in Crossgar. Those who knew her will remember her for her generosity, her deep faith, a wry, sharp wit and, above all, for her love of family.

She is survived by her 13 children, Phyllis, Mary Jo, Emer, Darina, Honora, Anne Marie, Julie, Gemma, Kevin, Charlie, Melanie, Clare Marie and Gabriel; by brothers Harley, Michael and Tom; by sisters Anne and Emer; by 44 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

May she rest in peace.


Her Month’s Mind Mass will be held at 11am in Crossgar on Sunday, May 18.