Wednesday 23 May 2018

Are these Ireland's longest friends? Eleanor and Nuala on their 73 years of friendship

Nuala Barry (left) with Eleanor Walsh in Barcelona in 2009
Nuala Barry (left) with Eleanor Walsh in Barcelona in 2009
Pictured is Ritann Allen as Queen of the May in 1947. Nuala Barry is the second girl on the right holding the basket and with her hand up to her head and looking away
Ritann Allen, Eleanor Walsh and Nuala Barry on a Legion of Mary outing to Inchydoney in 1960
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Two Cork women have revealed their secret to a long lasting friendship after spending 73 years by each other's side.

Eleanor Walsh (77) and Nuala Barry (78) from Ballinlough, Co Cork first met 73 years ago in junior infants at Our Lady of Lourdes N.S. in Ballinlough.

More than seven decades later, the pair are still best friends and have travelled the world together.

"We met in baby infants when I was four and Nuala was five. Our mothers were friends and we lived in the same area so we were always with each other," Eleanor told Independent.ie.

Ritann Allen, Eleanor Walsh and Nuala Barry on a Legion of Mary outing to Inchydoney in 1960
Ritann Allen, Eleanor Walsh and Nuala Barry on a Legion of Mary outing to Inchydoney in 1960

"We stayed together throughout primary and secondary school and were inseparable. We just clicked.

"We used to go dancing together and play tennis and squash. We'd cycle everyday to school together and had a lot of fun."

Eleanor, who has two sons and two daughters, said that herself and Nuala constantly kept in touch after school.

"Nuala married Mike when she was 21 and I was her bridesmaid and the godmother to her first child Susan. I got married when I was 26 and moved to England with my husband Tom for two years, but I never forgot about Nuala.

"We just to write letters to each other all the time, because we didn't have phones back then. I used to knit a lot, so I made lovely things for Susan, and we sent photos of our children.

"When I came back to Ireland we met up all the time with our kids. As young mothers, we visited each other, we went for walks and we enjoyed each other’s company. We used to holiday with our families in Youghal, Ardmore and Crosshaven. It was a simpler time."

Pictured is Ritann Allen as Queen of the May in 1947. Nuala Barry is the second girl on the right holding the basket and with her hand up to her head and looking away
Pictured is Ritann Allen as Queen of the May in 1947. Nuala Barry is the second girl on the right holding the basket and with her hand up to her head and looking away

Eleanor said that when their children grew up, the pair travelled the world together.

"Then in our 50s when the children left, myself and Nuala travelled the world together. We went to Scotland for my 50th birthday, then to Spain, to Madeira and Barcelona. We had a great time on a 14-day European tour."

Eleanor said that the secret to a long-lasting friendship is to communication.

"We just never lost touch and we would always check-in on each other. We had different hobbies, but we didn't let that stop us. We just always clicked and we're very lucky to be blessed with each other."

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