ON FRIDAY night I headed for the Lisdoo where a surprise 60th birthday party was being held for well known haulier James Hanlon from Ballagan and there to make sure he had a most memorable night was his wife Patricia, kids Seamus, Yvonne, Colin, Roisin, Ronan, Paul, Raymond, Michael-John and Patrick who were there with their wives and husbands who included Sinead, David, Brian, Nicola, Liza, Caroline, Jaymie, Melissa and a few of their 26 grandchildren and a huge collection of family, friends and workmates.
James thought he was going for a meal with Patricia and another couple and got the shock of his life when he arrived in to find everyone there!
I wasn't too long in the door when I caught up with Patricia's cousin Martina Thornton from Willville who was with her husband Odran and she told me the look on James face was priceless and they were definitely on for making it a real night to remember.
Beside Martina I then got talking top James' sons Colin Hanlon from Ballagan, Ronan Hanlon from Upper Jenkinstown who was with wife Nicola, nephew Sean and Jennifer Hanlon from Greenore who wanted to wish James all the best and told me it was going to be a really great night for certain.
Heading for an adjacent table I then got talking to James' brother Michael Hanlon from Cooley who was with his wife Claire and Michael was having a laugh with James' main man, Frank McArdle from Park Drive who wanted to wish his good friend a very happy birthday.
Making my way over to another table I caught up with James' sister Bridie Oliver from Riverstown and she was having a great laugh with the birthday boy's sister-in-law Kathleen Hanlon from Muchgrange who was with her daughters Caroline and Sinead Coyle from Rathcor who was the official photographer for the occasion and Kathleen told me that Sinead would have an album of the best photos taken on the night ready for everyone to see the following morning and would be also sending some off to America. She also told me that her daughter Paula and brand new husband Mark Dowdall from Cooley got a bit more than they bargained for on their honeymoon, they were the couple featured recently on the RTE News as the honeymooners who got caught over in New York, just arriving before Hurricane Sandy! But thankfully they are home safe now.
Heading over to another table I then met up with my old friend and sister-in-law to James, Olive Curran and John Durcan from Piedmont who were with sisters- in- law Briege and Donal McCloskey who were home from Manchester for the party, Miriam and David McBride from Kilcurry as well as brother-in-law Patrick and Rose Connor from Gyles Quay who assured me it was going to be nothing short of a brilliant night.
Making my way over to two sisters who are both cousins of James I got talking to sisters Briege Murphy from Mullabawn and Mary and Brendan Doherty from Cooley who were in great form and told me they had a good laugh at the look on James face when he was eventually brought back inside to meet everyone there.
I then got talking to a workmate, James Doherty from Lislea who was with his wife Moyra along with Pat and John Doherty also from Lislea who told me it was going to be a good session and wanted wish James a very happy 60th.
Not too long later I got a word with Hubert and Eileen Garvey from Ravensdale who were enjoying the company of Bridie and Eamonn Clifford from Manydown Close who told me that Bridie had worked with James as Liaison Officer and were all delighted to be there to enjoy the celebrations with the big man.
After this I got a word with Henry McCloskey from Carlingford who was performing on the night and he introduced me to his, and James' niece Jenny Hanlon from Cooley and assured me he'd be asking her up for a song or two saying she is ' the best singer this side of the Mississippi'! They were joined by daughter-in-law Roisin Soraghan and not too long later by James' brother Peter Hanlon from Cooley who was with his wife Frances and kids Margaret, Jenny, Patrick and Peter Jnr.
Peter told me that it was going to be nothing short of an epic night of celebrations and wanted to wish James all the best on his big night.