Recollections  -  Edinburgh Old Town


People and Play




Eric Gold

East London, England


Marion Deighan  RIP

Thank you to Eric Gold for telling me the sad news about the recent death of his Auntie Marion  Deighan, and forwarding a copy of the service held for her at Mortonhall Chapel on 30 January 2013.

Eric thought that others from Dumbiedykes might wish to know of Marion's death.

Anybody who'd like to read the whole of the Remembrance Service  should click on the 'Recollections 77' link above.  The Remembrance Service included memories of some of the events in Marion's life.


©  This photo of Arthur Street has been reproduced with acknowledgement to Willie Croal
 who took this photo and to Eric Gold who supplied the image.

Ceremony of farewell and of remembrance

of the life of

Marion Deighan

30th July 1928 – 21st January 2013

Main Chapel


30th January 2013


Marion Halliday Hood Mackay Deighan

(née McMillan)


Music: “Ain’t no mountain high enough”
                 – Tammi Terrell and Marvyn Gaye

"Good morning everybody, and welcome. We are here today to say our goodbyes to Marion Deighan, and to celebrate her life. Marion was a unique person and so is her ceremony. As her family wanted, this will be a humanist ceremony, without hymns or religious content.  We will look back on Marion’s life and at the impact she made on the lives and memories of those who knew her and cared for her.

My name’s Bob Barfoot and I’m honoured to have been asked to conduct this ceremony. I’m a celebrant from the Humanist Society Scotland. Humanists try to make sense of the world using compassion and reason. We believe that we’ve only got one life and we should live it in the best way we can, supporting one another and sharing with our fellow human beings all of the burdens and pleasures that life has to offer. Some of you may be people of faith and may not know much about a humanist funeral. I hope that you will feel comfortable with this ceremony, of which you are an important part. Later, there will be a time for reflection. All of us will have a chance then to think of Marion in our own way and to say our own private farewells.  Those of you of faith may wish to use this opportunity for silent prayer.

Whatever our beliefs, I hope we can agree we share a common humanity, which unites us in love in times of joy and in sympathy in times of grief. Marion’s life touched each of you here in different ways. In future you may talk about Marion with roars of laughter or with tears, in chats with friends or in family stories told to children too young to remember Marion when she was alive. It is through this human community of memory that there is continuity in spite of death.

There is no hiding the fact that this is a sad day, but it is also a time to celebrate Marion’s life. She was certainly a woman who celebrated life!

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Marion when she was alive, but I feel I have come to know her in the last few days, as her children Pat, Rena, Peter and Marion, and other members of her family, have shared their stories and memories with me. Let’s talk about Marion now.

Marion Halliday Hood Mackay McMillan, for that was her  full name, was born on the 30th July 1928, in Arthur Street in Edinburgh. There were still horse drawn cabs in Edinburgh when Marion was a little girl and her father Thomas was a hansom cab driver. Marion was the second youngest of nine children, and for her mother Isabella, bringing up the children was a full time job.

Arthur Street, where the family lived, was a steep sloping street at the side of what was then the King’s Park. It isn’t there any more, the large stone tenements were knocked down to make way for the Dumbiedykes flats but Arthur Street was to leave its mark on Marion in many ways.

These large tenements had long dark airshafts that led down to the back greens. As a little girl Marion, you won’t be surprised to hear, was an adventurous little tomboy. One day when she was five years old, she decided to climb through one of these dark airshafts. It was nearly the last thing she ever did. Little Marion realised after a short while that the airshaft got narrower and that she couldn’t turn back. She was getting very tired crawling inch by inch along that dark narrow airshaft. If she hadn’t made it she would have almost certainly never have been found.

But Marion showed the kind of grit and determination she was to show all of her life as she dragged her little self along that tight dark airshaft to the light and the air of the back green. Young Marion went back to the house covered in dirt and muck and looking like, well like she’d just dragged herself along an airshaft! Of course she got an almighty row from her mother Isabella, but Marion couldn’t tell her mother where she’d been, as that would have meant she got an even bigger row!

As a wee girl Marion also used to show her humour and quick wittedness. Gambling was illegal in those days and being only a little girl, Marion was posted as a look out while her older brothers and their friends gambled in the street. Marion would shout “ Police” at the top of her voice and every one would run and hide, grabbing as much money as they could. There was no police of course and Marion would run up, grab any money that was lying around and pocket it herself!

When the Second World War came, Marion joined the army and became a member of the women's branch of the Army the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Marion was stationed in Edinburgh but used to ignore the fact that she was actually in the army and pop home for a cup of tea and a chat with her mother. The army weren’t too pleased with this, but for Marion, family always came first and anyone else, even the British Army, would just have to wait their turn!

Around this time, Marion had met Paddy Deighan a handsome young man who owned a horse and cart.  Marion remembered riding in the horse and cart, sitting proudly beside the handsome Paddy as they went round the King’s Park. Paddy was to be Marion’s first and only boyfriend. They were married in the registry office in Edinburgh on the 18th August 1947 and Marion McMillan became Marion Deighan.

Once again the steep slopes of Arthur Street were to play a part in Marion’s life. In the spring of 1948 she was pregnant and talking to her mother Isabella in the family home when Isabella sat down and died suddenly. Marion was panicked and upset and ran into the slippery and steep street. She fell so badly that she was taken to hospital. Some days later, her first daughter Rena, was born. Within the space of a few short days Marion had lost her mother and gained a daughter.

Marion’s new family grew and they moved just close to Arthur Street in East Arthur Place. Her first son Pat was born in 1950 and when her second son Peter was born in 1952, the flat was so crowded that Peter slept in a drawer! Marion’s younger daughter, also called Marion, was born in 1954.

Paddy and Marion eventually went their separate ways and strangely their divorce became final on February 14th 1959, St Valentine’s Day. For the rest of her life while everyone else was sending romantic hearts and flowers Marion would joke that she was celebrating her divorce!  But Marion, in her family’s words “didn’t have a selfish bone in her body”.  She made sure that the children remained in contact with Paddy, their father, and for the rest of her life Paddy remained the only boyfriend she had ever had.

By now Arthur Street was demolished and the family had moved out to Niddrie House. Marion then, as always, devoted her life to her children. The brave determined spirit of the little girl who had crawled along the airshaft in Arthur Street was still there. She worked hard at work that was hard. She worked on the buses, cleaned trains and did jobs usually done by men, as these jobs were in those days, better paid.

But Marion didn’t just give her four children food and clothing, she gave them loving care and taught them the family values that were to remain with them for life and into the lives of future generations. Times were hard but they were not grim. There are many funny family stories about their upbringing and some of them can’t be told here, but the words “Magic Fairy” will always bring a smile to the faces of Rena, Pat, Peter and Marion.

As we’ve heard their mother Marion was working hard and long hours and was strict about bedtimes. Everyone had to be in bed by nine o’clock with the doors shut. It was Pat who first called out “Magic Fairy, open the door!” to their little sister Marion. She was only young and sneaked up and opened the door. Next it was “Magic Fairy, get us a biscuit” and little Marion would tiptoe along to get a biscuit for them. Well you can probably guess what happened next. Little Marion was caught by her mother Marion and given what for, while her brothers and sister no doubt giggled quietly in their beds. The little “magic fairy” had her wings well and truly clipped! Even today, half a century later, the words “Magic Fairy” still bring a smile to the family.

There were no holidays then as money was so tight but the family remember trips to Portobello and happy times spent cycling or playing games with their mother Marion.  She was always busy and cheerful. As her son Peter said “You would go to bed and the room would be blue and wake up and it would be a different colour !". She must have been exhausted but her children always came first. As the years went by and the children became teenagers the house was full of parties and friends and music, with Marion making sure everyone had sandwiches and food. She was in her children’s words “always a young mum, despite her age”. As the years went by and her older daughter Rena grew to adult hood, she and her mother became more like sisters and friends than mother and daughter.

Marion was a caring and unselfish woman who worked very hard and devoted her life to her four children.  But there was always room in her heart for more. She shared her home often for months at a time with other children within the family who at the time needed her care, love and attention.

But Marion was no pushover. She instilled in her family the values of hard work. When the children reached working age the option of staying in the house did not exist.  Marion’s view was “find a job”. You were sent out the door at eight in the morning and expected back at five at night. Lazing around in the house was not an option. Each of Marion’s children made their own way successfully in the world and Marion was fiercely proud of their success.

Later in life, passing by the Sheep’s Heid Inn near what was then the Queen’s Park, Marion remembered as a young girl proudly riding in the horse and cart beside Paddy. She said she never would have imagined all those years ago that one of her children, young Marion, would have owned a house nearby.

Marion became a grandmother for the first time on 4th of May 1967 with the birth of Mark. He was followed by Warren, Sonia, Derek, Peter, Faye and Jenny. She became Nana to them all and as you can imagine she doted on them.

My words cannot fully do justice to what it meant to have Marion as a grandmother. Her granddaughters Sonia and Jenny will now say a few words about their Nana."


Jenny – My Nana

"The head of the family, she has always been there to help and support and always care.

For my brother and I she was no.1 and I have to say for an old lady a lot of fun.

She loved to tell me stories throughout the years, some of them were so funny they would bring me to tears.

A larger than life character with so much pride who loved nothing more than all her family by her side.

My Nana was simply the best and now the time has come for her to rest.

So goodbye Nana you won't be far away and in my heart you will always stay.

A star in the sky that shines so bright, I love you Nana.  Big kiss goodnight xxxxxx."


Sonia- Nana

"What the caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning'

She was a mother, a mother figure, a sister, an auntie and a grandmother but most of all a friend to all of us. I’m sure each and every one of you here today has something to share on how my grandmother touched your life.

She lived for her family and never missed an opportunity to tell us all how proud she was.

Rena, Pat, Peter, Wee Marion

Mark, Warren, Sonia (me), Peter, Derek, Faye and Jenny

Without you Nana: We would not exist You installed belief and greatness in your children and then your grandchildren. You lived to see your great grandchildren born, Sophie, Alfie and Harvey who will now carry your legacy.

I know that you are happy now and in no pain. I can only imagine how joyous the reunion was with all the family members you've lost over the years. What a celebration you'll be having. 

I would like to read a poem from my Nana to you all:"

"Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there, I do not sleep

I am a 1,000 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 light

I am the soft star that shines at night

Do not stand at my grave and cry

I am not there; I did not die."

"Although she will no longer be at the end of a telephone or behind the door as it opens. My Nana lives here (point to heart) for each and everyone of us.  So when we miss her we only need sit and she'll be right there with us always ......never forgotten."


"Marion had moved house from Niddrie to Hyvots Loan and then about ten years ago to the house in Ross Gardens where she was to spend the rest of her life. By now she had stopped work and she still lived for her family and they in turn were devoted to her, happy to repay her for the love and care she had given them.

As you came in you heard the song “Ain’t no mountain high enough”. It’s a song that means a lot to the family.  The words say “If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, No matter how far, don't worry, Just call my name, I'll be there in a hurry.”  That was Marion, and these are the values that will live on in the family because she has lived.

Marion’s health began to fade. Being Marion, a strong minded and determined woman, she refused to go into hospital and had even threatened to “haunt” her children if they let her go to hospital! For the last three years she had been nursed and cared for at home by her elder son Pat. Rena, Peter and Marion will always be grateful to their brother for the outstanding care he gave Marion in her last years.

On Saturday 19th of January Marion had planned a Tea Party and the family gathered for food and laughter.  By all accounts she looked fabulous and was cheery and laughing, and packing away the stovies as she wanted to “bulk up”. Because of the snow the fun continued the next day with Marion insisting that the stranded members of the family stayed with her and she got beds made up for them and food was made ready. She was radiant and happy surrounded by the family she loved so much.

The very next day Marion’s enormous strength finally left her and she died peacefully at home with her family by her side, on the 21st of January 2013. Just after Marion died, as the doctor’s car pulled sadly away from the family home there was a remarkable pattern left in the snow, You can see it on the photo on your order of ceremony today.  Who knows, maybe it’s a pair of magic fairy wings?

Marion had been part of the lives of five generations of the family from her parents Thomas and Isabella in Arthur Street early last century, to her great grandchildren in the present day. Marion was the heart of the family. She was the boss, giving the family their drive, their humour and their strong love for each other. For Marion’s family, the world will be a darker place without her.  She was a much loved woman and she will be greatly missed.

We will now take a short pause for reflection when you may choose to say your own, private farewells. At this time, please take a moment to remember Marion in your own personal way, while we listen to a piece of music chosen by the family to remember her. For Rena, Pat, Peter, Marion and the rest of this close and loving family, the message is in the words of the song. It is 'Wind beneath my wings' by Bette Midler."

Music –“Wind beneath my wings” by Bette Midler.

We have now come to the part of today’s ceremony when we will say our formal farewells to Marion. If you are able to, will you please stand?

"Every living being has a beginning and an end, and for each of us, there’s a time to be born and a time to die.  Marion, we’re glad that you lived, we’re glad that we saw your face and we felt your love.."

Now in peace and thoughtfulness, we bid you farewell.

We took delight in your love and friendship.

We treasure the life we walked with you;

We cherish the memory of your words,
your achievements, and your character. 

On a wave of love we leave you in peace.

With respect and love, we bid you farewell.

Marion’s life has come to its end but her personality will live on in your memories. The pain of her loss may fade, but not the light that she brought to all of your lives."

Please take your seats again.

All of us have Marion’s family in our thoughts and I know your presence here today has been a comfort to them and has helped to pay tribute to Marion. The family invite you to join them after this ceremony at the Minto Hotel in Minto Street, here in Edinburgh.

All of you, family and friends, have lost the joy of having Marion around in your lives. But love is never lost, it just changes to a different kind of love. In future you might see a Valentine’s card and you’ll think of Marion and have a wee smile to yourself. I think she would have liked that.  When you carry Marion’s memory in your minds and hearts and remember the things that made her unique, that made you love and care for her, you will find that she will be never be far away from you.  This sense of love and memory is expressed in the short poem “Love Lives On” by an unknown author."

"Those we love remain with us,

For love itself lives on,

And cherished memories never fade

Because a loved one’s gone.

Those we love can never be

More than a thought apart,

For as long as there is memory

They’ll live on in the heart."

Marion’s family would like to thank you all for coming today. They greatly appreciate your comfort and support.  As we leave we’ll listen to another song chosen by the family to remember Marion, it’s 'Unforgettable' by Nat King Cole.

Could you please now stand, as the family leaves?

Music –. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole.



-  Eric Gold, East London, England (nephew of Marion Deighan) for providing a copy of this service.

-  Rena (eldest daughter of Marion Deighan)  for permission to reproduce a copy of this service.

February 19, 2013


Dumbiedykes  -  People and Play

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