Marsh Road native only retired five years ago!
They don’t make them like Tommy Reilly anymore…
The Ship Street native just celebrated his 90th birthday, just five short years after his retirement.
Yes, you read that correctly; Tommy worked as a security guard in the Abbey Shopping Centre until he was 85!
"I didn’t do it for the money obviously, as I’ve enough of that to do me until I go,” says Tommy with a laugh. “It was more to keep me busy and get me out of the house.”
Tommy was surprised by 80 of his family and friends recently in the d Hotel, when his daughter lured him there under false pretences!
"They told me it was a party for my great-granddaughter Lily’s first birthday, and it was, but they also surprised me too,” explains Tommy, who has five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “It was really lovely and I enjoyed it so much, and my son David did a ‘This is your Life’ to me, and everyone had a great laugh at that.”
And what a life he’s having.
Born in Ship Street, off the Marsh Road on June 8th 1932, young Tommy was the only child of Esther and Thomas Reilly.
"My father died when I was only five years old, at the age of 29, which meant my mother had to go out to work and even though we had moved to Congress Avenue, I spent most of my childhood with my grannie and granddad Mary and Thomas back down on the Marsh Road,” explains Tommy. “I went to St Mary’s on the Old Hill, before going out to work like many back then at 15 years old.”
Tommy worked through the industrial golden age of Drogheda, starting in Woodington’s boot factory, where he spent seven years, meeting his lovely wife Mary Keenan from the Windmill Road.
The pair got married on St Stephen’s morning in 1955, settling back in the Marsh Road until Mary passed away in 1983, at just 50 years old.
"My next job was in Usher’s Mills in Greenhills, where I stayed for 38 years, until they closed down in 1993,” recalls Tommy. “It was hard work, but I enjoyed it, and I made many great friends.”
Living most of his nine decades ‘down the Marsh’, Tommy has seen many changes over those years.
"It was a hive of activity years ago, with WC McDonnell’s, the Oil and Cake, Woodington’s, the oil refinery, with maybe 600 or 700 people working there, around where Scotch Hall is now, and buses used to come morning and evening to bring them to and from work,” says Tommy.
"I suppose I came full circle, as I am 63 years living on the Marsh Road, and have so many happy memories, but it is all different now, and not one of those industries is still there.”
Tommy can not sit still and after leaving Usher’s, he worked for SVP, and at the age of 67, was asked to work in security for the Abbey Shopping Centre, and jumped at the chance, where he stayed for over 20 years!
"I have worked all my life; it just happened and I also spent 20 years with the Comhaltas, where I got to travel too,” he says. “I really enjoy dancing and telling stories, and also bridge, which kept my mind active over the years too.”
Also at the party in the d Hotel was Tommy’s neighbour on the Marsh Road Annie Geraghty, who will also celebrate her 90th birthday in August.
"There must be something in the water down here,” says Tommy cheekily, “as we all stay around a long time.”
So what is the secret to Tommy’s longevity and energy?
"I honestly don’t know, and to be honest, I never really think of my age, I just get on with things," he laughs. “I just take every day as it comes.”