Tuesday 21 May 2019

Family and friends celebrate Ned's 100th birthday at Wilton Castle


Ned Fenlon, Galbally, Bree with his wife Bee and daughters Anne Marie, Jacinta and Catherine, sons-in-law David and Nikk, and grandchildren Edward, Caitlin, Garry, Patrick, Aaron and Kyle at his 100th Birthday Party in Wilton Castle
Ned Fenlon, Galbally, Bree with his wife Bee and daughters Anne Marie, Jacinta and Catherine, sons-in-law David and Nikk, and grandchildren Edward, Caitlin, Garry, Patrick, Aaron and Kyle at his 100th Birthday Party in Wilton Castle

Brendan Keane

Wilton Castle was the venue for a very special birthday celebration when Ned Fenlon, from Galbally, celebrated his 100th birthday among family members and friends.

Born on April 25, 1919, Ned had 10 brothers, of whom he is the last one remaining.

To mark his landmark birthday Bishop Denis Brennan presented him with a special boxed Rosary beads that was given to him by the Pope.

A man of deep faith it was very fitting that Ned received it as a gift.

For his birthday celebration he was joined by his wife, Breda, daughters, Jacinta, Anne-Marie and Catherine, grandchildren, Edward, Caitlín, Garry, Patrick, Aaron and Kyle and extended family members.

Some of his brothers emigrated and worked in different industries but he was the one who took up farming.

He worked in the farming sector all his life and started his career in the industry with a farm in Raheenahone which he worked with his late mother.

After his mother passed away he continued with the Raheenahone farm for a couple of years before selling it and starting a new farm in Galbally.

Three years after setting up that farm he married Breda.

Very involved in the church all his life he is also a life-long member of Fianna Fail.

However, he is very well known and respected for his involvement in his local community and donated land to facilitate the building of his local community centre.

'He has always been very civic minded,' his daughter, Anne-Marie, told this newspaper.

A pioneer all his life Ned has also never smoked and in his younger years was a keen bingo enthusiast.

Anne-Marie said the family is very grateful for the help Ned receives from HSE care-workers who have ensured that he is able to still live at home.

His recall of events is amazing and he loves chatting about things that happened 90 years ago as much as he does about current events.

Ned has always loved conversing with people and his popularity was underlined by the rapturous reception he received when he entered Wilton Castle for his birthday celebrations which was akin to a film star entering a gala event.

The Easter Sunday mass in his local church was also dedicated to him and that was reflective of his community involvement and his deep religious faith.

A special presentation was made to him by Fr Billy Caulfield on behalf of the people of the parish.

He received a very large amount of birthday cards acknowledging him becoming a centenarian and he also received his letter from President Michael D Higgins marking his historic birthday.

There were around 80 people at his party and some of them travelled long distances to be in attendance.

Ned's nephew, Jimmy Byrne, gave a speech in which he outlined some of the historic events that have taken place during Ned's lifetime while another nephew, Nick Power, highlighted aspects of Ned's life growing up.

His daughter, Catherine, also spoke on behalf of the family and his grandchildren read a six-verse poem in which they captured events from his lifetime.

Ned was presented with a very special birthday cake which was styled in the form of an old newspaper.

Music was provided by Stephen Murphy and local musicians who contributed to a great sing-song.

The party began at 4 p.m. and Ned was one of the last people leaving the venue at 11.30 p.m.

Some of the momentous events that Ned has witnessed during his lifetime have included: the original Bloody Sunday massacre in Croke Park; the founding of the Irish Free State; the publication of Joyce's 'Ulysses'; the death of Michael Collins; the Tailteann Games in 1924; the first Aer Lingus flight (1936); the election of Eamonn de Valera as Taoiseach; the establishment of the Irish Constitution; World War II; the roll out of the Rural Electrification Scheme; Ireland leaving the Commonwealth and becoming a Republic through the Republic of Ireland Act 1948; the filming of 'The Quiet Man'; the debut of Beckett's, 'Waiting for Godot'; Ronnie Delaney winning gold in the 1956 Olympics; the setting up of Radio Telefis Eireann; the visit of JFK; the Beatles performing in Ireland; the beginning and end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland; four different currency changes; Ireland joining the EEC; the fall of the Berlin Wall; Live Aid; the first 'foreign game' being played in Croke Park when Ireland play England in rugby; the smoking ban; and the visit to the Republic by Queen Elizabeth II.

Gorey Guardian