THE Ballymacad Foxhounds lost one of its most loyal members last week when Cathryn Gibney passed away after a long illness bravely borne, on her 60th birthday. A lady of many talents, she possessed the most sincere and welcoming smile that almost defined her to her many friends and acquaintances.
Cathryn had style and elegance to suit every occasion, and her hunting attire and her horses were always turned out to perfection with spotless hunting attire, boots shining and buttons gleaming. Although she lived with her family in Stillorgan, she was proudly from Carnaross in Co Meath, a county that was so dear to her heart, but not forgetting her love also for the wilds of Connemara.
From an early age, she was a member of the Meath Foxhounds Pony Club, kept mares for breeding, hunted all her life with the Ballymacad Foxhounds, held office as hunt honorary secretary, supported fundraising events, reared many a puppy for the hunt, and assiduously followed up their progress in the hunting field. She lived a full life, and her bravery knew no bounds.
Despite her illness and the unimaginable challenges it imposed while having treatment for advanced cancer, Cathryn was so determined that, as recently as last January, she was on horseback crossing her beloved Meath countryside following the hunt she was so passionate about, saying that she just wanted to see and hear the hounds working again, and still with that charming smile for everybody.
Her many interests besides hunting included international travel, gardening which she was so knowledgeable about, performing with the Saint Andrew’s College Parents Choir, the Stillorgan Players, South Dublin Book Club, the local ladies coffee mornings and gym group.
Just last month the hunt made a presentation to Cathryn at the last meet of the season near Oldcastle. True to her thoughtful nature and creating a lasting memory for the followers knowing her imminent destiny, Cathryn said: “Although I will not be with you next season in person, I will be with you in spirit”.
At the funeral service at St. Brigid’s & All Saints Church of Ireland, her heartbroken husband George said that Cathryn could light up a room just by her presence, always leaving a lasting impression. He continued: “Cathryn timed her departure to perfection, after the Aintree and Irish Grand Nationals, the Easter holidays and especially when the Easter flowers were in bloom. One of the last entries in her hunt diary was of a meet at Mullagh recalling an enjoyable hunt with her daughters Hazel and Sophie on her horse Tiger Lilly and ending the day expressing sheer delight of simply sitting on a wall behind the truck having tea and scones.”
Rev Canon Ian Gallagher recollected planning the funeral service with Cathryn. When he asked what time Cathryn would like the service, she replied: “It does not matter to me, as I will be there anyway!” That in a way reflects the style, wit, and charm of Cathryn Gibney that endeared her to so many during her life.
Cathryn is survived by her husband George, daughters Hazel, Alice and Sophie, her mother Pauline and her brothers Mark, Niall and Paul, as well as a wide circle of friends.
May she rest in peace.