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Faith and Begorrah, What a Good Irish Catholic!

"Another inventory of names, typical of obituaries, but now special because her life has been celebrated"
--72, America's Best Newspaper Writing

This quote was very apt in summarizing the overall effect of this obituary, I thought. I wonder why they don't write more obituaries like this. Probably because they don't have enough time, unfortunately. The amount of character-defining detail in this story is amazing; Clark and Scanlan did a great job pointing out all of the different elements that make it work so well. Unlike the story about Mimi Silbert, this one allowed for some details that portrayed in a more human and less saint-like way. True, they're somewhat superficial failings like, not being able to cook or tell a joke well, but these little imperfections make us all the more drawn to her because she was a good person who was also down-to-earth and relatable. It makes us want to be more like her. That's what I love about this story--it's about an ordinary person who did ordinary everyday things to help the people around her. A lot of times people like this aren't celebrated as much as they should, because they didn't do a lot that was notable or had the characteristics we've defined as "newsworthy." But in the end, I think people like to see a well-done story about an average person, because, let's face it, most people are average. I also like the elements that tie Byrne to a larger demographic and time period; she was very much rooted in the Irish Catholic culture, and the writer made great use of the characteristics we normally associate with that culture (hospitality, devout religiousness, etc.) Overall, I felt this piece did a wonderful job of celebrating this woman's life, and it's the kind of obituary I think we'd all like to think we'd have in the paper someday when we buy the farm.

Comments (2)

Jennifer Prex:

I agree that this obituary was well done. So much of the time, obituaries seem so impersonal. This one would make even someone who had no clue who this woman was care about who she was. It is a shame that there isn't time for all obituaries to be like this one but, then again, maybe that's why this one is so special--it's different.

Angela Palumbo:

This is true. A proper summary of a person's life is a really nice touch. The littlest details really helped in making her all the more lovable to hear about. And you're on to something. We like to read a good article about an average person every now and then because most of us have never done anything truly "newsworthy" which is probably a good thing.

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