Retired nurse and devoted mother who will be missed by four generations

Mrs Barbara Mulligan.
Mrs Barbara Mulligan.

Mrs Barbara Mulligan packed a lot into her long and fulfilling life – a distinguished nursing career, her Christian faith, travel, music, and as loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Mrs Mulligan passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital after a short illness and leaves behind four loving generations – she is survived by husband Jackie, daughter Deborah Mawhinney (husband Kenneth), sons Stephen (wife Kim) and Ashley (wife Sherryn), six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and elder sister Joan.

Born Barbara Vanwae Turner to Caroline and Billy Turner, she began her life in Bangor. The family soon moved to Lurgan’s Avenue Road (also Jackie’s home town) and Barbara started her education at King’s Park Primary School, moving to Lurgan College where she became involved in pursuits like hockey, drama and elocution.

As children, Joan and Barbara (best friends as well as sisters) attended High Street Presbyterian Church, Lurgan where they were keen members of the Girls’ Brigade.

It was at this stage of her life that she met a fell in love with Jackie (later, on the staff of Portadown College) and they were to share 59 years of happy, married life. Their Portadown homes were at Princess Way and The Avenue But there was a career to pursue before matrimony and her first choice was her local Lurgan Hospital, although she was deemed too small under the regulations of the time!

However, Barbara Turner thought big, and applied to the Royal Hospital in Belfast. In his tribute at mum’s thanksgiving service at First Portadown Presbyterian Church, son Stephen said, “Not only was she successful in admission, but qualified with distinction, winning notable prizes and medals en route.” She worked in the Royal’s ENT Department after she qualified.

Barbara and Jackie were married in 1957 in High Street Presbyterian Church, Lurgan, and lived in Belfast for a while, with Jackie completing studies at Stranmillis. After that, they followed Jackie’s job to Cookstown, and then to Portadown, where Barbara’s sister Joan also settled.

Stephen recalled - “Mum and Joan were also quite the singers in their day - weddings, churches, local radio, this well-practised duo did them all. In 1973, mum and dad joined the Way To Life Crusade Choir in the old Regal Cinema, and this started a 30-year association that took mum singing all around the country and to sing as part of massed choirs in the Royal Albert Hall.”

He added that Barbara pursued her Christian faith in quieter ways – “when every Tuesday night for years she helped with a meeting for senior citizens in the old Orange Hall in Levaghery with Bill Calvert.”

The Mulligans also loved their family holidays, to places like Clar Ellagh, Castle Erin, Wales, London and Spain.

Stephen joked that “once mum and dad got shot of the three of us, travel really took off for them!”

They became Tour Guides with Aldor Holidays, taking groups of people all around the world. Jackie led the groups, with Barbara looking after the individuals. Destinations included Canada, USA, South Africa, Israel as well as numerous UK and European destinations. They also travelled to Nepal as recently as 2009.

Mrs Mulligan led a practical Christian life, as Stephen put it, “Early in her life, back in 1950, along with Joan, at a mission in Lurgan, she committed her life to Christ and this shaped everything that followed.”

This caring penetrated her entire family life – “As a family she prayed for each of us every day. All the things that we shared with her. All the important things that were happening in our lives. Praying protection over us. Praying about the difficulties we were facing. Praying healing in our lives. Praying forgiveness for hurts.

“Mum wanted the best for each one of us. Her heart’s desire and daily prayer was that each of us would put our trust in Jesus as our Saviour and our Lord.”

He added that his mother had a keen sense of humour, was a superb hostess, a committed confidante, and her medical skills were “invaluable from the practical point of view – always ready with encouragement and advice – she will be sadly missed.”

There was a private family service at Milne’s Funeral Directors and committal was at Kernan Cemetery, conducted by Dr Brian Savage. The service of thanksgiving was at First Portadown Presbyterian Church, where the Mulligans worshipped for many years. The Very Reverend Dr John Finlay conducted the service, with Joan McKittrick accompanying the singing.

Donation in lieu of flowers are to The Tear Fund, c/o Milne Funeral Directors, Seagoe Road, Portadown.