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Irene Cawley (nee Egan) of Mayfair passed away at home on Friday, February 19, 2021 at age 83.

Irene Cawley was the devoted wife of 40 years to her husband (late)John Cawley. Irene was the beloved mother of Phyllis, John(Rachel), and Denise Cawley; proud grandmom of Eleanorlynn, Daniel, and Gwendolyn Cawley. She is survived by her brother Lawrence Egan(Margaret), and many nieces, nephews, friends and extended family, who will all miss her dearly.

Phyllis, John, Rachel and Denise want to thank everyone for everything.  Coming here today and last night if you could.  The flowers, the food, the memories.  Everything. 

Mom, Irene, Grendmom, really lived quite an amazing life.  She touched so many people and they were all the better because of her. 

Our beautiful mother left this world on Friday, February 19, 2021  She was born August 23, 1937 in Aughtaboy, Knock, Co. Mayo, Ireland.  She was the youngest of 10 children and loved growing up surrounded by her family, the animals on the farm and the many other dogs, cats and birds she collected.  She would ride her bike to dances and sold ice cream to pilgrims in Knock. She told us stories of walking to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways.  Of life before electricity and in-door running water.  Stories we believed untrue until our parents moved us there and we saw how true it was.

She didn't want to come to the United States as a young woman, she wanted to move to Australia!  Her Dad said no.  Your sister Mary is in America, you're going to America too.  So at 17 she came here and lived with her Aunt on Lansdowne Ave in West Philadelphia.  

She became a live in maid for wealthy families on the Main Line. She would tell us of the trips to Lake Saranec with those families and of going to parties in Olney and at the Irish center in Mt Airy. 

Irene and John married in St. Bernard’s on October 18, 1969 and moved into an apartment in St. Matthew’s parish.  They had three children, Phyllis, John, and Denise.  They moved from Philadelphia, to Bryn Mawr, to Ireland and eventually they settled back in Mayfair.  Dad never stopped working, either in warehouses or landscaping but he worked hard.  However, with three kids and Catholic school tuition, mom jumped back into the workforce. She and Mary Ferns would spend days cleaning houses and nights waitressing banquets.  As a waitress she worked with most of her family, including her sisters-in-law, honorary nieces and even her own son whom she worked circles around.  She was a mom, a housekeeper, a waitress, our chef, and our health care worker. They worked really hard to give their children everything they needed and raised us to be best friends, to have that same work ethic, and to have their sense of fun and sarcasm. 

Irene was the absolute best.  She loved and was so proud of being from Knock.  She loved to watch masses from Knock online. When asked by strangers about her brogue and where she was from, she would proudly say Ireland. If there was an office visit, or hospital trip everyone fell in love with her.  Who could blame them, she was adorable.

She loved living in Mayfair and the many friends she had on Princeton Avenue.  She was a second mom to so many of her children’s friends who called her Ma Cawley.  She loved to listen to Irish music and to go to the casinos with her sisters-in-law and hosting New Year’s Eve.  She loved to laugh and had so many good stories. She loved to travel, either for vacations or just to hop into the car and see where the road took her.

She loved her husband and the big Irish family families they were surround by.  She had so many nieces and nephews that she loved as if they were her own.  Although an ocean separated them, she was always close to her brother Lawrence in England.

Mom and Dad were so proud of their children and grandchildren.  She bought sweatshirts from St. Joe’s and Philadelphia College for Pharmacy of Sciences.  She and dad bought a police scanner so they could listen for John at work.

She was infatuated with her grandchildren.  Mom and dad loved taking care of Nelly after school and literally waited by the door for her to come home.  Mom would take Nelly on car rides to visit the horses.  She was so happy to have Nelly living with her these last few months.  Danny was her pride.  She loved the way he doted on her, it was the way she doted on him.  Gwennie brought joy and happiness into her life after dad passed and continued to be her sweet baby granddaughter. Both Gwennie and Nelly shared her love of animals.

She used to say that her mother was the toughest and most amazing woman she knew.  And that was probably right.  But we know that she was the absolute best mom and grandmom and toughest, most stubborn, fun, woman ever. She always had a story to tell and words of encouragement and love. She supported us and rooted for us unconditionally.

We are the family we are, the individuals we are because of the love she poured into us. We are sad to lose her but most of all so appreciative of the full, blessed life she lived.  May she Rest In Peace.

Relatives and friends are invited to a viewing on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 from 6-8pm at John F. Fluehr and Sons 3301 Cottman Ave. Phila, Pa 19149. Again, on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at St. Matthews Church 3000 Cottman Ave., Phila, Pa 19149 from 9:15-10:15am. Mass to follow starting at 10:30am. Rite of Committal will take place at Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Irene’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association by visiting:

John F. Fluehr & Sons, Inc.

Funeral Home Serving Families Since 1898

3301 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19149


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