Mary Shirley Harrigan


Dartmouth, N.S. - Mary Shirley Harrigan, 93, passed away on February 24, 2019, after a long, joyous and, wonderful life. Shirley was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 15, 1925 to Jane(Jenny) MacDonald Redmond and John Leonard Redmond. She married Dr. James Frederick Harrigan in 1953.

Fred and Shirley's adventures took them all over the Maritimes and the eastern United States, and eventually to Madawaska, Maine where they settled in 1959. Shirley was truly the family leader, an Irish Matriarch, right out of central casting. She was head cook, cleaner, editor and typist of school papers, therapist, overly-aggressive grammarian, and headlining comedian of the family. She parented her children and ran her household with a firm, but kind and understanding hand. Her home was always busy, filled with visitors and friends, and lots of kindness, laughter, and love. Her advice, which was sought by friends and family alike even in her final days, was always wise, smart, and measured. She never foisted her advice or suggestions upon you, but was there when you needed it or sought it out, ready to offer a kind word, suggestion or even just an ear to listen. She was a gifted listener and also understood intrinsically, the value of silence or a good laugh and sought to make those in need, feel comforted and always made them smile, laugh and feel better about themselves.

Shirley was an artist and painted many watercolors of "The Farm" that now hang in her families' homes. As a writer, Shirley loved to commemorate special events of the Harrigan's Clan, for anniversaries to milestone birthdays to more solemn occasions, she would write verse that was always poignant and lovely. She wrote a loving tribute to her adoptive St. John Valley, thanking the residents for taking in the family for nearly 60 years and also wrote lovingly of her native Halifax and Canada, even having some of her poems read on her beloved CBC radio programs.
Shirley was very active in her community in Madawaska, serving on the Parish Council, Recreation Committee, and PTA for years. She had an innate and unwavering sense of right and wrong and was completely fearless in expressing her opinions when she saw a slight that needed to be addressed or an error that needed to be corrected.
Shirley's greatest pride and joy however, were her five children: Dan (Mary) of Caribou, Maine; Kathy (Chris Butt) of Dartmouth, N.S.; Lynne of Kentville, N.S.; John (Lyne) of St. John, N.B.; and, Terence(Alice) of Bangor, Maine. She instilled in each of her children a sense of decency and pride, her remarkable sense of humor, and urged them to do what was right for right's sake and not for glory or praise. Humility was so very important to her. This pride and love extended to her son-in-law and daughters-in-law as well. She will be lovingly missed and fondly remembered by her 10 grandchildren and their spouses: Caitlin, Lauren (Chris Grass), Eamonn (Caitlin), Alex Butt (Cailin), Karen Butt (Gordon Paterson), Amye, Sarah, Patric, Liam and Maeve and by her great grandson Henry.

Shirley was predeceased by her husband, parents and her siblings John and Molly. She is survived by her sister Audrey Allen of Halifax and sisters-in-law Margaret Redmond of Vancouver, B.C. and Ann Hodgins of Miramichi, N.B. as well as many nieces and nephews all across Canada.

Shirley spent the last three years of her life living at Shannex's Kinross Hall in Dartmouth, N.S. The family would like to thank the staff and residents of Kinross Hall for their care and love during the last three years; Continuing Care Nova Scotia staff ( especially caregivers Jolene, Joanne and Chiaka); and the Victorian Order of Nurses(especially Chrystal and Tammy). A special thank you to her sister Audrey and niece Colleen for their weekly visits and to her Madawaska and Edmundston friends who contacted Shirley regularly. The Harrigan siblings want to specifically thank their sister Kathy for the extraordinary care she provided to our mother over the last three years.

As per Shirley's wishes, there will be no service or memorial, but there will be a gathering of family at the homestead in the Miramichi this summer to send her off to spend eternity with her husband Fred. If you'd like to make a donation to the charity of your choice in her name, Shirley would have encouraged you to do so. If you are unsure as to a charity, not surprisingly, she has some "suggestions", i.e. the Victorian Order of Nurses ( and select VON Greater Halifax) or the SPCA. Condolences may be sent and a more detailed story of Shirley's life may be found at

Mom, rest easy now. We will miss your grace, strength, spirit, wisdom and wit. Until we meet again.
Published on February 25, 2019
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7 posts

Mike Murphy
May 17, 2019
Shirley was my second mom. She was the most encouraging person I have ever encountered. Everyone was welcomed at her house. I was glad to be able to talk to her after Fred died and tell her how much she meant to me. She lived a life that will go largely unnoticed, but just look at the success of her children and beyond to see her influence! I will miss her spirit!
Mike Murphy
May 17, 2019
Shirley was the most encouraging force I have ever known. She welcomed everyone into her home. She was my second Mom! Shirley knew what you had in you and told you to make things happen! Look at all the things her children have accomplished! I'm glad I had a chance to talk to her after Fred died and tell her how much she meant to me! What a great woman...
Terry Beals
Apr 11, 2019
Dan, I am so sorry to hear of your Mom's passing. My deepest condolences to you and the entire family.
Dave and Jan Dufour
Feb 27, 2019
What a wonderful lady she was! So many fond memories of her smile and welcoming way. She was a special person. Our hearts are with you.
Greg Cyr
Feb 26, 2019
My sympathies and condolences to the entire Harrigan family.
Patrice & Jim Daigle
Feb 26, 2019
Such a loving and thoughtful obituary for a wonderful lady. She will be missed. Our condolences to the entire Harrigan 'clan'.
John and Jeanne Lagasse
Feb 25, 2019
Our deepest sincere sympathies to all the family. She was a remarkably and special Lady, the memories will be be cherished in our hearts. May you rest in peace Shirley.....