THERE are very few out there who can hold a candle to Willie Birrane, who celebrated his 92nd birthday last week, and is still driving.
There is a story above about Cappamore legend John Hayes and Willie is another one. Indeed, there is a good book in Mr Birrane too.
He worked in the Dairygold Creamery in Cappamore for 37 years and his house is full of set dancing and waltzing trophies won with his wife Mary.
He is a familiar sight in the parish in his Fiat Punto, and Mr Birrane has no plans to stop.“I’ve no intention of giving up, I’ll keep on driving. I used to do a lot of driving one time but I don’t do so much anymore. We used go to dances every Sunday night,” said Mr Birrane.
His first car was a Morris Minor bought in the late fifties.
“I was old when I started driving, I was 40 anyway. I’m driving ever since,” he said.
This clever reporter asked Willie why he started driving so late in life and not when he was a younger man?
Of course you wouldn’t meet too many cars on Limerick roads in the late thirties!
“There was no cars on the road at that time, cars were very scarce,” said Mr Birrane, who has two daughters and three sons - Mary, Helen, Liam, Johnny and Dan - and 13 grandchildren.
He has been driving for over 50 years now and hasn’t had as much as a scratch in all that time.
Mr Birrane’s insurance premiums must be at an all time low with no claims in a half century. However, due to his age he has to get a medical report to get his driving licence.
His doctor gave him a complete MOT last year and Mr Birrane has a clean bill of health, as well as a clean licence, for the next three years.
“I’ll keep driving,” smiles Mr Birrane, who many will know from the old local creamery.
A jack of all trades, he made butter, went out in the lorries and in the early days was there to leave in the farmers early in the morning with their churns of milk.
His quick feet on the dance floor in Scor and dancing competitions certainly haven’t done him any harm when it comes to pressing the brake and accelerator pedals either.
Proud daughter, Mary says her father will keep driving as long as he can.
“He is hale and hearty thank God. He drives to the shop and Mass, it’s great independence for him,” said Mary, who adds that she knows one or two others in the locality still going strong behind the wheel. Mr Birrane has the occasional pint but he gave up the cigarettes years ago. However, you won’t see him giving up driving or slowing down anytime soon!