In Loving Memory

of

PETER BENSON
1951

2020

Obituary

Thank you for visiting. Here you will learn more about Peter Benson and the headstone we
have created to honour his memory.

This page was written by Patricia Hallahan, Peter’s beloved wife and anamcara and his two
children, daughter Róisín and son Tadhg.

Peter’s final resting place is the lovely little graveyard in Kilcloon where family members
John Hallahan, Mona Dempsey, Declan Hodge, Frances Hallahan, Farah Ferris and Katie
Tumulty are buried.

The headstone is Pitched Boulder in Bengal Blue Granite and was created, crafted and
erected by Darren Raftery of Liffey Memorials (https://liffeymemorials.ie). Darren also hosts
this website.

The headstone includes an inscription in Irish from Psalm 129:
‘Aimsigh sa Chiúnas Mór, an rúndiamhair cé thú féin’.
This means ‘Discover in the Great Silence, the mystery of who you are’ (see full text of this
psalm below).

Peter died unexpectedly in Cappagh Hospital on 7 July 2020 (https://rip.ie/death-
notice/peter-benson–dublin/427921). He had a stroke on 31 March, 2 weeks after the lock-
down brought about by the pandemic. Unfortunately after being admitted to the Mater
Hospital, he contracted Covid 19 there. This severely delayed his rehabilitation and
contributed to his death. The 14 weeks he spent in hospital, when visiting was not allowed,
were very difficult.

We will first let Peter speak for himself in the following quotation from The Cherry Tree, a
book of family history which was published in 2013. Then we will share words that were
spoken at his funeral and sent by friends and some of the readings we choose for that sad
occasion. Peter’s funeral service was held in St. Peter’s Church in Phibsborough, (where he
and Patricia were married in 1991) and in Kilcloon and was celebrated by Fr. Joe Mullen and
celebrant Gilíosa Kiernan.

Peter says about himself:

‘I was born in a small village called Kingsbury in Warwickshire, England in 1951. I spent my
childhood with my parents, older brother and sister (Philip and Pat) and younger sisters
(Jayne and Pauline) in the village of Dosthill. I studied at Colleges of Further Education in the
UK (Fitting and Welding), NUI Maynooth (Diploma in Adult Education) and the Open
University (B.Sc. Technology). I lived and worked in many parts of the UK and enjoyed side-
car racing and boat building in my spare time. I worked with VSO in The Gambia in West
Africa and in Bangladesh, where I met Patricia. I moved to Ireland in 1990 and I worked with
Rehab as a trainer in the National Training Centre in Ashtown and we lived in the Old House
in Ballynare, Kilcloon, where Patricia’s mother grew-up. We moved to Kenya in 1997 where we lived as a family for 7 years. When we came home, I worked for Irish Rail in the freight centre in Dublin Docklands’.

Patricia’s words at Peter’s funeral

Peter was my best friend, my supporter in everything I did and a person who truly lived life
to the full. I’m not sure I can really express just how much I will miss him after the many
years we spent together. Not only was he a wonderful husband, but a great father, brother,
friend, colleague, neighbour … and so much more. I’ll try to paint a picture of his life so that
those of you who did not know him as well as I did, will have a sense of who, we are sadly
having to say farewell to today.

Peter was born in 1951 and grew up in England. He was the middle child of 5, having an
older brother and sister and two younger sisters. His father and mother met and married
during the war. Their early life was marred by the death of their first child and by the
separation caused by the war, during which Peter senior saw active service in Italy and
North Africa. Peter claimed he was his mother’s favourite and as a child he was known as
‘Little Pete’ His Dad was a keen photographer and captured lovely images of a secure and
happy childhood in a home filled with love and of wonderful holidays by the sea.

Peter followed his father to work in a Power Station and qualified initially as a fitter /
welder. He was always fascinated by how things worked and was quick to adapt to new
technology. He had a keen interest in motorbikes and motorcars and spent many exciting
years competing at a national level in British side-car racing. He worked in many places in
the UK and enjoyed building his own boat, all the time, honing his technical and practical
skills.

In the 1980s he moved to the Gambia in West Africa where he worked with Voluntary
Services Overseas. He loved his work there which involved the training of village blacksmiths. After he moved
to Bangladesh he worked in a large education centre providing technical education to help
young adults get a better start in life. I was working in Bangladesh with Concern when I met
Peter for the first time on a bus tour of the capital. I was impressed with this handsome and
quiet man and we quickly became friends sharing our passion for our work and making the
most of the social scene which relied mostly on our own initiatives. I remember lovely
picnics and many house parties and sessions where we laughed and talked and sang long
into the night.

When we came back to live in Ireland our children Róisín and Tadhg were born. From tiny
babies to fully grown adults, Peter has always been a fantastic father to both of them. Peter
was always up for a challenge and an adventure and when I got the opportunity to work
with Trócaire in Kenya, he never hesitated. He readily gave up the job he loved in the Rehab
National Training Centre and moved our young family to a completely new life in Africa
where we spent seven years.

Peter has provided me and our family with a truly blessed and wonderful life. He facilitated
my continuous study and my many career changes. He has been my rock and support throughout our life. Peter loved organising wonderful holidays for us all – we had many
fantastic safaris in Africa and ski trips to all the best snow spots. He loved hill walking and
over the past few years has been my steadfast companion on beautiful walks all over Ireland
and our annual Camino in the south of France.

Since he retired, Peter had great fun and did wonderful work in his amazing and well
stocked wood working shed. Recently I came across a poster which he really enjoyed – it
said “After I die, don’t let my wife sell my tools for what I told her I paid for them!” These
last 14 weeks since his stroke have been difficult time for us. The restrictions on visiting due
to Covid 19 meant that we had to rely mainly on our iphones for communication. But in a
strange way this really focused our loving attention on each other.
I loved his persistence and stoicism, his skill and tenacity and for being a wonderful
counterbalance to me as a parent to Tadhg and Róisín. He was my soul mate, my anamcara,
and my inspiration – my steadfast rock that helped me through thick and thin. Peter
supported and loved us all, and was always there to help navigate through life’s challenges.
The years we have spent together were too short but have been filled with such joy and
happiness for me.
Dearest Peter, Thank you – I love you!

Róisín Words at Peter’s funeral

Wind is rushing through my hair, and I can see big trees to my left. I’m on the back of my
dad’s bicycle cycling out of Pinehurst. This is my first memory of my father, I feel safe and
ready for an adventure. One of the biggest adventures we took was out to Kenya, when
mum took a job with Trócaire. Dad used to drop Tadhg and I to school in his big Land Rover
which had all the bells and whistles shipped out by Ian & Sandra. All the while swearing at
the crazy matatus who drove down the middle line of the road.

My dad filled our snack boxes with Lucozade boosts and bourbon biscuits, he gave us nutella
sandwiches and apples for our lunches. After school we’d meet him in Braeburn bar with
his friend Bill and get Fanta blackcurrant for me and Fanta orange for Tadhg. He helped me
with trig and technical drawing, using tools his dad, my grandfather, had given him. He
rushed Tadhg to hospital after accidentally running him over with the car when Tadhg
rushed out of the house to greet him.

All of these things were the days of my childhood, and all of these things were full of
adventure because my dad was there. He was always there. Any adventure in my life has
been shared and propped up by my dad, no adventure was ever too big and he was always
there supporting me.

When I moved to Japan, he was there cheering me on and making sure my giant pink
suitcase could close. When I was changing careers and took time off work to study he
always shared his perfect poached eggs with me. When Marc and I needed help renovating
our apartment he was there with his expertise, gladly and generously.

I will forever cherish the time we had together in January, working side by side to build our
kitchen. Giving us advice about knocking down walls, changing the radiators, moving the
sockets and sawing holes so we could put it all together. When we accidentally cut wrong
holes and made mistakes, he was always there to help us work it out. He cared deeply about
my happiness and welcomed Marc into our lives easily and with kindness. I miss my dad. I
miss his unwavering support and I miss hearing about his progress and every win that he
made in Cappagh. He was supposed to be home to help me blow out my 30th birthday
candles in September.
Dad – I miss you. I love you. And I promise to never forget how to change a plug.

Tadhg’s reading at Peter’s funeral

Remember, by Christina Rossetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Reading Ecclesiastes 3: 128 (Geraldine Hallahan 0’Brien)
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be
born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time
to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and
a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a
time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A
time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and
a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace

Reading The Celtic Book of Dying by Phyllida Anam-Aire (Theresa Mc Donnell Friström)
Can you be with me in the cold morning of dying?
When the fire in me is out and nothing warms my blood
Can you watch with the eye of a mother?
When the candle is burnt and the friends have gone?

Can you just be, not wishing one more breath in me?
And when my eyes are closed shut,
Glad of the long quiet rest
Will you then travel still with me?
As I close this door behind
And open into the open heart of death
Sweet love call that brought me birth,
Now call me safely back in earth.

Message from Peter’s friends Ian and Sandra

Pete was a best friend who travelled sincerely in and out of the twists and turns of our lives.
A constant influence and source of support regardless of the miles that separated us. I loved
the way he moved forward in life. Dwelling on the past and on disappointments was not
Pete. Travel, work, family, friends, hobbies, global issues, health, and lifestyle……. he was
not afraid to step forward and live; he embraced the changes and challenges in his life and
ours with love and sincerity.

Pete and Ian grew from lively young mates working and laughing together, into family chaps
with careers and responsibilities. They developed a friendship where skills were to be
shared, even with Sandra, the newbie. Pete helped Ian and I find each other; not just in the
beginning but over time. Through hardship and sorrow, he was always there. Sharing good
times and success, he was there. Ready and willing to share life even if it was just an
opportune telephone conversation while Patricia was at Mass, or when the house was
quiet.

When I first met Pete, he and Ian loved teasing me about being a teacher. Pete did not ‘get’
children at all but did enjoy teasing them as much as playing with the cat. To accept being a
father was a massive challenge in his life. Pete had an amazing ability to turn up just at the
right moment. Many of his visits turned into contributions to our work, home, and social
life. He even fought a cold in order to partner Ian in a fantastic firework display for my 50th
birthday party.

One of my fondest memories was that he would somehow time his spontaneous visits just
as I was baking cakes or preparing a meal which of course he shared with us. We could talk
endlessly in later years when there were no cats or children as distractions and Ian either
had to endure the conversation, have a nap, go to his man shed or interrupt us with his
unique banter which of course Pete loved and joined in with. I didn’t stand a chance once
they got started! In our early years together Ian and I tried to volunteer overseas, travel was
a dream we shared.

When we realised volunteering was not possible Pete solved the problem with the simple
suggestion that we could buy a vehicle and go anyway, taking the kids with us. That was a
revelation which had us inspired immediately; we started planning and Pete, bless him,
helped us purchase a Land Rover Defender that was perfect for the task. We travelled
across the Sahara Desert into west and central Africa. A journey that changed our lives and
took us on a road into new horizons.

Pete’s visits to England and his desire to stay in our home was a crucial part of our relationship. We loved having him, joined on occasions by any combination of Patricia,
Roisin, and Tadgh. Our friendship may not have appeared deep to others. We did not share
each other’s daily lives, and family and friends rarely met on both sides. Our social
connection was restricted by geography for many years. Hearing loss, a cruel twist of aging,
crept in and remaining close became increasingly difficult as telephone calls had become
our main connection.

The last 10 years (was it really that long?!) introduced Facebook as a new way to
communicate and we embraced other modern ways of socialising through technology. In
our last few months together, we discovered the joys of WhatsApp and video conversations.
Pete’s decision to settle in Ireland all those years ago was a shock to us, but maybe it made
us work harder to remain connected. We were destined to be friends and will continue to
be for the rest of our lives. We take the gift of connection from Pete; little and often, big
chunks, visits, conversations, messaging, gifting, support, love and laughter whatever the
form of the connection it only exists for moments but it strength is that it remains in our
souls, our hearts and memories.

Thank you, dear friend. Sandra and Ian.

Final Reading
Peter, you go home to your home of Winter,
To your home of Autumn, of Spring and of Summer;
You go home this night to your lasting home,
To your eternal bed, to your sound sleeping.
Sleep now, sleep and so fade sorrow,
Sleep now, sleep and so fade sorrow,
Sleep, my beloved in the rock of the fold.
The sleep of seven lights upon you, my dear
The sleep of seven joys upon you my dear
The sleep of seven slumbers upon you my dear.
Sleep, oh sleep in the quiet of quietness,
Sleep, oh sleep in the way of guidance,
Sleep, oh sleep in the love of all loving.
Peter, you have been called from the place of your dwelling,
After times, after duties, after separations,
May blessed soul-friends guide you,
May helping spirits lead you
May the Gatherer of Souls call you.
May the homeward path rise up under your feet
And lead you gladly home.

Psalm 129, in ‘Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness’ by Nan C. Merrill (2006)

Lift up your heart to the Most High! Let the earth ring with songs of praise!
Be glad O people of the Light!
Let your life be impregnated by Love’s gifts.
Discover in the Great Silence the mystery of who you are and be true to your Self.
For wherever you dwell, there is beauty;
Infinite Love is everywhere.
Know that the beauty hidden within your soul is seen by the eyes of your heart.
Let the still small voice of the Beloved guide you by day and comfort you by night
Then will you be blessed and in turn,
You will be a blessing to the world.

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8 Comments

  1. Nicola

    Uncle Peter, we miss you but I know you’re with my mum (your little sister Jayne) and your mum, my grandma, keeping each other safe x x

    Reply
    • Barbara Wilson

      Peter. You were very much part of our walking group here in Dublin, Wicklow , iand other places around Ireland, and in France. We walked together up hills down dales through forests, along beaches, into villages and towns. Many steps, much beauty, and good chat. You are missed and will ŕemain in our thoughts and fond memories.

      Reply
  2. John Quinn

    This is beautiful Patricia. Togha fir Peter.

    Reply
  3. Richard groves

    May his memory continue to be a blessing, Patricia. May your soul friendship be an eternal flame of love.

    Reply
  4. Mary Manning

    That is such a heartful tribute to a very loved and treasured husband, father and friend. What a wonderful legacy Peter’s living has been for all of you. May his gentle spirit be free and at peace now. 💙💙💙

    Reply
  5. Rita McNulty

    Thank you Patricia for sharing this memorial of your dear Peter. It touches my heart. May the memory of his big heartedness bless your life and all who knew and loved him.

    Reply
  6. Orla

    A beautiful way of remembering Patricia.Love to you all.

    Reply
  7. Susan

    Lovely way to remember Peter Patricia “Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam”

    Reply

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