A West Belfast woman has been buried amid emotional scenes with her husband who died 45 years ago.
Mother-of-12 Mary Ellen Murphy passed away on August 22 – exactly 45 years to the day that her husband Joseph died from gunshot wounds he received during the Ballymurphy Massacre.
In October last year Joseph Murphy’s remains were exhumed from the City Cemetery on the Falls Road, on the back of his dying claims that he had been shot a second time while he lay wounded in Henry Taggart British army base after the Ballymurphy Massacre that claimed the lives of 11 innocent people from the area – at the hands of the Parachute Regiment – over three days in August 1971.
Within days of the exhumation a bullet was found lodged in his body, vindicating his claims.
Mrs. Murphy was diagnosed with bowel cancer just four months ago.
She passed away last week at home surrounded by her loving family.
The couple were buried together last Thursday, 45 years to the day that Joseph Murphy was first buried.
The couple’s daughter, Janet Donnelly, said that the family had found out the day before the funeral that the Coroner’s Office were releasing their father’s remains to them.
“We had been back and forth to them, informing them that mummy was very ill and we wanted to have our daddy reinterred before anything happened to mummy,” she said.
“The original plan was to have daddy buried and for our mummy to be there. Our mother was a woman of great faith. When our daddy’s body was exhumed in October she insisted that there was a priest present and that there were prayers at the graveside.
“She wanted him to have a proper funeral when the time came for him to be reburied. Little did we know that he would be waiting for her in the chapel 45 years from the day of his original funeral.”
After her husband’s death Mary Ellen Murphy was left to raise nine children alone – three of her children have already passed away.
She remained in the same house in Ballymurphy Parade until her own death.
Speaking to mourners at Corpus Christi church in Ballymurphy, Fr. Darrach Mac Giolla Catháin said: “I anointed Mary and after receiving this grace in the Sacrament of Anointing she was almost ready to go home to God.
“But she waited until Monday, the 22nd of August 2016, the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary exactly 45 years to the very day that Joseph died.
“God’s timing is always perfect.
“She is buried today, along with Joseph, exactly 45 years to the day when he was first buried, the Memorial of St Joseph (of Calsanz). God’s timing really is perfect.”