Wednesday 17 July 2019

Watch: Irish woman (81) chats with Australian best friend she has never met

The pair started off as pen-pals and are now fast friends

Zainab Boladale

An elderly Irish woman has found heart-warming friendship on the other side of the world without leaving the country.

May Sherlock (81) from Clontarf, Dublin has never travelled outside Ireland but this hasn’t stopped her from engaging in a long distance friendship with Joan Gill (94) who lives in South Australia.

While the two women have never met in person, through Skype calls and letters they regularly update each other on events in their lives, in and out of their nursing homes.

“We just talk about our families, how many children we have, what we do,” said May.

Their friendship began through a pen pal initiative organised by Sunhill Nursing home, Director of Nursing, Elaine Moloney and Barunga Village therapist, Darren Robinson.

“I knew Joan was a very good writer and a couple of other ladies here, so one day I was messing around on the computer, thought I’d try my luck somewhere in Ireland,” said Darren.

“I contacted Ireland and I came across May’s home and it took off from there”.

As part of ‘Nursing Home Week’ staff members from both nursing homes arranged a call between May and Joan and in between talks about upcoming family celebrations, haircuts, lipstick, bingo and their latest activities it’s clear that these two women have warmed to each other. No topic was off the table for them, not even their opinion of the men in their nursing home.

The humour between the two women was apparent as they joked about the mischief they’ve been up to.

May and Joan laughed about the fact that they’ve both noticed handsome men in their nursing home called Anthony.

The two women later reminisced on how different life was for both of them in their younger days.

May remembered being  “very happy” growing up in an Irish cottage.

“Ours was very small. I had three brothers and mammy and daddy in the one room and the water was outside the door,” she said.

In contrast, Joan said she grew up in a house with “lots of room” and that she remember playing tennis outside, to which May humorously replied that was for “only the posh girls” and the “the girls in the convent”.

While discussing the things they’ve sent each other, Joan told she once received a painting of an Irish cottage from May and that it was such a “thoughtful” thing to get. When asked about the painting which now hangs in her room she tells people that “it’s all the way from Ireland” and that she thinks of May every time she looks at it.

As  the conversation shifted to travel, Joan revealed she’s been as far as China and Hong Kong while May explains that the reason she’s never left Ireland on a plane is because she’s afraid of heights but that if Joan was to ever visit Ireland the first place she would bring her would be “Glendalough, because it’s beautiful”.

Their 40-minute chat concluded with them giving each other a virtual hug and Joan telling May that she “felt very lucky to have her to write to”.

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