In memoriam: Teresa Jackson

Patrick Jackson
9 min readMay 8, 2019

By Patrick Jackson. Private piece, no connection to my employer.

“The young may live but the old must die” (maxim of Latin origin, wording as given by a farmer in Glenelly)

Here and there, a bracketed abbreviation qualifies a line in the pages of her handwritten letters. “D.V.” or “D.G.” - “Deus volens” and “Deo gratias” in Latin, “With the help of God” (as she would put it) and “Thanks be to God”. Letters and a whole life measured by a faith in something greater than her troubles, something felt in her joys.


13 September 1930, Coleraine, and Rose McManamon is finally giving birth. She is in the Mary Rankin maternity hospital, getting special care for she has had two miscarriages. Teresa Marie becomes the first of her seven children.

Her husband John, a policeman, is often stationed in Derry (she could never call the city “Londonderry” though it was never political). Back in the townland of Glenrone, in the Glenelly Valley of Co Tyrone, Rose works as a teacher in the primary school (they call it a “national school” in those days). Across the Back Road that runs past the school stands the grandparents’ pub. A few minutes’ walk across the pad from the pub stands the small family cottage. Rose is out at work and sometimes there are serving-girls to help, but the eldest daughter soon finds herself acting as mother to her brothers and sisters in a house with little money coming in. One night the small girl witnesses the bloody drama of a difficult birth right inside the cottage. Her eyes grow clear at a tender age.

Yet she will go on to marry and bear ten children of her own. She will see them fed, clothed, mannered and educated and when in turn they become adults she will still stand by them, in health and happiness, in illness and disaster. A day will come when one of her children is so ill she will say she would rather see them in their coffin. Yet all her children will outlive her.

A primary education at Glenrone school under the much-loved older teacher, Mrs Kathleen Carlin (nee Toibin, from Co Cork). Amid the general syllabus, and the classroom fun, the children learn Shakespeare around the turf stove. Little Teresa plays the role of Portia. A star pupil, the country girl will go on to impress teachers at the convent…

Patrick Jackson

@BBCWorld journalist with focus on Europe. Views here mine, yours, even *theirs* - just not BBC's. #MoJo ❤️☕️