‘A won­der­ful voice which brought joy to ev­ery­one’

Carmel Cal­lis 1929-2020

The Irish Times - - Obituaries - COLM KEENA

Mu­sic was a big part of the life of Carmel Cal­lis (nee Fee­han), who died of Covid-19 in St James’s Hos­pi­tal, Dublin, on March 29th.

Carmel was born on July 11th, 1929, on Kevin Street, Dublin. Later her par­ents, James and Mary Fee­han, moved to Lark­field in Kim­mage, where they lived for sev­eral years be­fore set­tling on Cashel Road in Crum­lin.

One of a fam­ily of nine chil­dren, Carmel had a great love of mu­sic, and a won­der­ful voice, says her daugh­ter Maria. As a teenager Carmel joined the Corey Choir in Inchicore, where she met the renowned Ir­ish tenor Der­mot Troy, who be­came her friend and sang at her 21st birth­day party.

She joined a min­strel troupe called The Merry Dix­ielanders as their prin­ci­pal fe­male singer, and they played at venues all over Dublin. “They would some­times re­hearse in the front gar­den of Cashel Road,” says Maria. “A free con­cert for the neigh­bours.”

It was while work­ing at the Ir­ish Art Plas­ter Com­pany in Ir­ish­town that Carmel met her fu­ture hus­band Harry Cal­lis. The com­pany made stat­ues for churches. Harry was a statue caster, Carmel was in the paint­ing depart­ment, and the com­pany’s stat­ues could be seen in churches around the coun­try.

“Ev­ery­one cy­cled in those days, and their ro­mance blos­somed when Harry re­paired a punc­ture on Carmel’s bi­cy­cle. He in­sisted on cy­cling home with her de­spite it be­ing miles out of his way to make sure the tyre didn’t go flat again.”

Carmel and Harry mar­ried on April 3rd, 1956, and soon af­ter­wards set­tled in Bal­lyfer­mot, where they raised four chil­dren; James, De­clan, Maria and Kieran. They lost a son, John, shortly after his birth in 1958.

At first Carmel was a stay-at-home mam, and she was a won­der­ful home-maker and cook, says Maria. Later she had a part-time evening job as a cleaner in the ICS Build­ing So­ci­ety in West­more­land Street.

She loved the job and if peo­ple were work­ing late when she ar­rived to start work she would go out and buy bread and meats in a shop and make sand­wiches for them. She be­came a per­ma­nent mem­ber of staff and was the of­fi­cial tea lady un­til she re­tired in 1988.

Carmel’s love of mu­sic never left her. She con­tin­ued to sing in those early days in Bal­lyfer­mot, at bal­lad ses­sions in the lo­cal church hall, and later she be­came a mem­ber of the choir in the Church of Our Lady of the As­sump­tion in Bal­lyfer­mot. Later again she joined the Mem­ory Lane Alzheimer’s Choir in Crum­lin, along with Maria.

Carmel and Harry had a won­der­ful mar­riage full of love and re­spect, and had been mar­ried for 58 years when Harry passed away in Jan­uary 2015.

Carmel lived out her days at home in Bal­lyfer­mot. She con­tracted Covid-19 on March 23rd, and was taken to St James’s hos­pi­tal on March 28th, where she died the fol­low­ing day.

‘‘ Carmel’s love of mu­sic never left her. She con­tin­ued to sing in those early days in Bal­lyfer­mot, at bal­lad ses­sions in the lo­cal church hall, and later she be­came a mem­ber of the church choir

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