Eileen Ann Monaghan
Date of birth: January 7 1948
Date of death: October 21 2018
Eileen Ann Monaghan was born January 7th, 1948 in Queens, New York. She left this earthly plane due to complications from Frontotemporal Degeneration on October 21, 2018 in Tualatin, Oregon. Two of her favorite children were with her when she finally succumbed to the disease.
Eileen moved to Alaska with her family during her father’s military service in 1960 and Alaska remained Eileen’s great love and primary place of residence throughout most of her adult life.
In 1968 she met the man who would become the father of her children and over the following 10 years she amassed 5 wonderfully amazing, beautiful, brilliant, mensa-ish children, all born in Anchorage. She survived a brief stint living in Kentucky, where her then-husband hailed from, and managed to keep her kids alive throughout the ordeal. Yay, Mom! She and her children returned to Alaska in 1982, without said husband.
Though she fed her children little more than frozen bean and cheese burritos, some of Eileen’s favorite foods were ground beef, ketchup, dairy products of any kind, and copious amounts of Tab. And like any good Irishwoman, she loved a proper cuppa.
During the 80’s, armed with shoulder pads and a prodigious perm, Eileen returned to school and finished her B.A. at University of Alaska. On the heels of that degree, she became intent upon deepening her understanding of her Catholic faith by teaching Catechism classes, and completed a Master’s in Theology from Loyola Marymount University. She also taught herself to play the harp during this time, while also working full time for the State of Alaska as a social worker. All the while raising 5 kids. She was a busy lady.
Eileen was a founding member of the Anchorage Folk Festival and co-founder of the Irish-Alaska Music Festival. To say that Eileen was proud of her Irish heritage is an understatement. Her personal soundtrack was dominated by the Clancy Brothers, a good soda bread made her misty-eyed, and St. Patrick’s Day was her favorite holiday. Much of her musical repertoire was Irish music and she willingly ate corned beef and cabbage. This lady was hardcore.
Eileen’s love for Ireland sent her on multiple trips to the family homestead and she loved connecting with Irish family all over the world. Rumor has it that Liam Clancy tried to get her drunk once…but you can’t get drunk on Tab.
Though she spent decades navigating the severe illnesses of two of her children, she more than once fainted at the sight of blood.
Like her parents, Eileen was intent upon instilling a sense of service into her children. Whether working at Bean’s Café, bringing communion to hospice patients, helping at Children’s Cancer wards, or working at Our Lady of Guadalupe’s One More Time thrift shop -- she and her amazing children were always involved in helping the community she valued so much. Volunteerism was part of her DNA and her children have carried on that call to service.
In the 1990’s, Eileen became more engrossed in passion projects like helping organize a Concert for the Worker, raising awareness of and coordinating services for veteran care with the Stand Down organization in Anchorage, and she began working with friends to organize scores of concerts that brought international musicians to Alaska. Also in the 90’s, Eileen had some money! Not crazy money, but she could pay most of her bills and have a little fun. She bought more blouses with shoulder pads and leveled-up to diet Pepsi. This period of time is a bit of a blur because she started re-living the 20’s she never had and spent a lot of late nights at Anchorage’s much loved/much maligned Cheechako.
Eileen was a social worker with the State of Alaska until her retirement in 2007. She had long-planned to retire and drive the Pacific Coast Highway in a red convertible, hoping to spend time with truckers. But her plans were foiled; she got sick. Diagnosing what was wrong proved to be too much for the physician she had seen for over a decade, so her family moved her to Portland, Oregon in 2010, to be closer to her family and doctors who were determined to figure out what was wrong with her. Through these dedicated professionals Eileen was finally properly diagnosed with not ADD (as the aforementioned lazy physician had diagnosed), but FTD and PPA.
Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) is a horrifying disease that makes your frontal lobe shrink at a rapid rate, causing personality, behavior, and language to all decline. There is no treatment or cure and the progression is debilitating. Along with FTD, Eileen also had Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), which impairs and eventually eliminates the ability to speak. PPA often goes hand-in-hand with FTD. Before the disease Eileen was quick-witted and hilarious. She could work a room like a pro and to have her MC an event guaranteed a good time. Her FTD initially presented as compulsive behaviors then began robbing her of the ability to communicate and show emotion. The fact that she got a disease that eliminated her communication abilities is terribly galling and exceedingly cruel. The cackle that embarrassed her children to no end became a distant memory as her brain continued to shrink. The last five years of her life she didn’t utter a word. It’s a particularly nasty way to decline for someone who was a master communicator.
Make no mistake, Eileen had her flaws, and parenting was no exception. Yet she gave it her best, she loved her kids, and she learned and she grew. By the time her youngest was a teenager, she had the parenting thing kind of figured out. Or maybe she just cared less.
She was a connector of people, a serial partier, and hosted some of the most memorable proms in Anchorage history. Eileen was known for loving a good céilí and if there wasn’t one happening, she would host one. If you were her friend, she was the best kind of friend. When she heard of a need, she helped fulfill it. When she loved, it was unconditional. She was the best kind of mother, friend, and human. The light she brought to the world can never be replaced and will never be extinguished. She illuminated us all and we are grateful for the time we had with her.
She was preceded in death by her mother and father: Mary and Edward Monaghan, the father of her children: Jim Price, and in true RHIP fashion her two elder siblings: Michael Monaghan and Patricia Monaghan. Eileen is survived by her five children and their spouses: Kate and Earl Begonia, Maura Price and Ted Collins, Maggie and Chad Thurman, Brendan and Abbie Price, and Maeve Price and Brad Chmielewski; the two grandchildren she adored: Frances Begonia and Eli Begonia; and her four younger siblings: Terri McKenzie, Peggy Monaghan, Kathy Monaghan, and Tim Monaghan. She is also survived by many beloved nieces and nephews who were very dear to her.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
By Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Eileen Monaghan may have left the earth but her humor, wit, intelligence, and compassion will always be with us. And her piercing laugh will echo throughout eternity. In Portland a celebration of life will be held December 1 and an Anchorage event will be held in January.To honor Eileen, go out and volunteer today. Or make a donation to https://www.theaftd.org/. And if you can’t volunteer, and you can’t donate - go out and vote.
22 tribute candles have been lit
Candle lit by Martha Statler Russell Rest in Peace my dear, sweet Eileen. I met you 49 years ago and we became friends immediately. You have left a great legacy in your terrific children and grandchildren. I will never forget your wicked sense of humor and you devotion to your faith and heritage. Maybe someday we will meet again. Marty
Candle lit by Staff at Crown Memorial Center Our sincere condolences.
Candle lit by Cathy and Kevin murphy So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you and your family.
Candle lit by Barbara Britch What a wonderful and loving tribute to Eileen. The world is a poorer place without her, but heaven has gained another beautiful harpist.
Candle lit by Elizabeth M Hill Bryant Beautiful, funny and oh so true. Eileen was gem.
Candle lit by Carter Family So sorry for the loss.
Candle lit by Marion Gordon Slan leath Cailin deas ❤❤
Candle lit by Lynn Barrett So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute ❤️
Candle lit by Kathleen Bielawski Rest In Peace, dear Eileen!
Candle lit by Natalie Novik Now you can play for eternity... the end of your life might have robbed you of your many talents, but the angels must have immediately recognized you when you joined them and I can now hear the sound of your strings in the whisper of the wind, the softness of the snow and the songs of the birds in the morning.
Candle lit by Kristen Young Frampton What a wonderful tribute.
Candle lit by Cara and Adrian Dixon What a great tribute to your mom. You guys are hilarious and your mom would be proud. Sláinte, Eileen.
Candle lit by Kate O'Dell Eileen, you helped me connect with my Irish heritage, and that changed my life. I know that Herself is smiling now that your music is lilting through heaven.
Candle lit by Shannon Monaghan and Steve Wegeleben All my love to the family.
Candle lit by Joh Walsh Eileen, you were missed when you left Alaska but then as now you've left us with some great memories. We'll always miss you. Love John & Angel
Candle lit by Jude OConnor Have a wonderful trip my dear Irish friend.
Candle lit by John and Diane Kelly What a beautiful tribute to your dear Mother. She is Home now and at peace.
Candle lit by Rory
Candle lit by Mary LaFever Happy Trails, Eileen....you did Good. Thanks for your caring ways, and for the fun times RIP.
Candle lit by Keenan Powell Love you, Eileen.
Candle lit by .
Candle lit by Mary Murphy Fond memories of many an evening in the Pioneer Bar in Anchorage plotting the Irish Music Festival. A great tribute to a great lady.