Bridget "Breda" Cahill (nee O'Rahilly), a resident of Pompton Plains, New Jersey for almost 58 years, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, January 23, 2022.
Born in 1940 in Knockeen, Castleisland, County Kerry, Ireland, Breda was one of seven children to Denis and Catherine O'Rahilly. Breda came to the states at the age of 14, and resided with her paternal uncle in Pontiac, Michigan, where she earned her high school degree, finally attending Marygrove College in Detroit. Nearby University of Detroit is where she met Phil Cahill, who was a waiter at her campus cafeteria. They soon fell in love and were married in Pontiac, Michigan on February 10, 1962. This year would have been their 60th wedding anniversary.
After Phil landed a civil engineering job in New Jersey, the couple moved to a small second story walk up apartment in Nutley, NJ, where they welcomed two daughters in 1962 and 1963. In 1964, they moved to Van Riper Avenue in Pompton Plains, where they welcomed a son in 1968. Breda joined the Junior Women's Club in town where she met some of her best friends. They became active parishioners at Holy Spirit Church, and her three children attended Holy Spirit School where Breda was a frequent volunteer. Later, Breda and Phil moved their family to Rockledge Terrace in Pompton Plains, where she remained until her death.
Breda was a stay-at-home mom until 1977, when she took a position at Pequannock Township High School as an assistant to the principal, and a secretary in the Guidance Counselors office until 1985. She then worked for March of Dimes up until 1989, when she and Phil purchased Multi-Pak Corp, a trash compactor manufacturing and service company. Breda worked at the company with Phil until she retired in 2005.
Breda was an established, self-taught seamstress, often making clothes for herself and her children, along with custom window treatments and pillows and quilts. She had quite the flair for the latest fashion and was always updating her home interiors to stay on trend. On any given day of the week, her house was immaculately kempt, and her daily attire was fit for Sunday mass. She was truly old school and maintained an air of elegance about her that her friends and family would often admire. She was a fabulous hostess, paying great attention to detail, while entertaining guests and family regularly at her kitchen and dining room tables. Breda was an excellent cook and made “THE best chicken parmesan ever” as per Phil Ortolani. Countless delicious meals were shared and enjoyed by her husband, children, grandchildren, friends and extended family on hundreds of special occasions. Breda enjoyed attending her 9 grandchildren’s sporting events, religious sacraments, musical concerts, dance recitals, plays, championship celebrations, along with 9 eighth grade, high school and college graduation ceremonies. She also reaped the benefit of sharing quality time with her children and grandchildren on dozens of summer vacations on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and at the Jersey Shore, and also in Ireland.
Breda was extremely proud of her Irish heritage, and in turn instilled that same pride in her children and grandchildren. She devoured news from home, reading and re-reading the Kerryman paper and the Irish Echo. She loved telling stories about her youth, and how she and her siblings grew up milking cows on the family's Dairy Farm, collected eggs from the chicken coop and fed and cleaned up after the pigs. She would repeatedly tell the story about the long walk to school "through the river and back the road for 3 miles with worn out shoes, carrying a brown bagged lunch with a bottle of milk and a biscuit.” That story never got old for her.
Her family, and her children’s families have made dozens of trips back home to Ireland, and each one of us have maintained that tradition, nurturing and cherishing relationships with our extended and still growing family. Fittingly, two of her grandchildren were in Ireland at the time of her death. She would have been proud to know that. We will all remember and cherish those times abroad with our mother and grandmother, and plan to return her ashes one day to her homeland.
Breda O'Rahilly Cahill is lovingly survived by her husband Philip L. Cahill; her children Catherine Cahill Ortolani and her husband Phil, Brigid Cahill Wykoff and her husband Greg, Kevin Cahill and his wife Pam; her beloved grandchildren Christian, Olivia and Sam Ortolani, Alexandria, Mitchell and Aidan Wykoff, and Erin, William and Claire Cahill; her sister Mary and her husband PJ Hayes, her sister-in-law Catherine O'Rahilly, and 17 nieces and nephews and more than 35 grandnieces and grandnephews. She was predeceased by her siblings Helen, Daniel Joseph, Carmel and Roger O'Rahilly, and Kathryn Griffin and her husband Monty.
Mourners can be received by the family in the atrium of Corpus Christi RC Church, Chatham, starting at 10:30 am on Saturday, February 5, 2022. A Memorial Mass will follow at 11:30 am. A repast will be held immediately following the services in the Victorian Suite at the Madison Hotel, 1 Convent Road, Morristown, NJ. A block of rooms is available for reservation at the hotel under Breda's name for out of town guests. Cremation was held privately by her immediate family.
The Mass will be live-streamed by Corpus Christi Church. To access the livestream, please visit https://www.corpuschristi.org/parish-livestream.
In lieu of flowers, a donation in Breda's memory would be greatly appreciated to the Alzheimer's Association and can be made here.