Mike Neylon with his daughter Maggie and that prized Limerick Leader
FOR THE best part of 64 years the Limerick Leader has been winging its way over the Irish Sea into the eager hands of Mike Neylon.
But a recent edition will come as an extra surprise as we wish him a happy 90th birthday. Mike, who was born and bred in Caherconlish, moved to England in 1953.
To keep in touch with home his mother Margaret posted it to him every week and when she passed away his late sister Peggy Nash continued with the task. When she died in 2013 the paper stopped coming for a while.
Mike’s daughter Maggie, who made this all happen by contacting local notes correspondent Pat Hourigan, said her father was “bereft” without the Leader.
“He felt really cut off after all those years so I contacted an old friend and neighbour, Anthony Ryan, from High Street, and pay him to send it to dad now.
“There is a special place in his heart for his home village of Caherconlish. With so many family members and old friends now passed on, the Limerick Leader is a vital link to home for him and keeps him apprised of all the local and county news.
“I’m very grateful to Anthony for doing this as dad can’t get along with the digital version and doesn’t have broadband anyway! So the physical version of the paper is everything to him.” said Maggie.
She got Mike to pose with a copy of the Leader under a different guise and emailed it on in time for his birthday on March 31.
The Caherconlish of today is far removed from the one of Mike’s childhood.
His first job, aged 14, was at Lynch’s pub. His second one was on the farm at Garrett Ahern’s. Mike rose at 5.30am to milk the cows, then take the milk to the creamery, return and wash all the churns out before getting on with other farm duties. He remembers particularly the hard winter of 1947. He said you couldn't break the water in the bucket to make tea because it was frozen solid.
After that he went to work at the cement factory in Limerick city.
“Again, it was hard work, lifting hot slabs of concrete with just your fingertips, or else it would shatter, then run 100 yards to load it on a pallet before running back again to get the next one - all day long. The money was an improvement though - £5 a week - and he bought the family their first radio and paid two shillings a week for it. He brought it all the way home on his bike,” said Maggie.
Like countless others, Mike left these shores in 1953. He met his late wife, Margaret, in the same year as they went to the same church.
Mike worked for a variety of building contractor companies over the years. He was a skilled pipe layer and eventually sub-contractor of groundwork. Although he’d no formal training as such he could read plans better than the surveyors.
After retiring, he worked as a security guard in a factory then as a ‘chucker out’ at a local pub and finally in the stores of a building supplies merchant. After starting work at 14 he finally gave it up aged 77 and now resides in the seaside resort of Bognor Regis.
“I am so proud of my dad for achieving the fantastic age of 90. He worked hard all his life and I am pleased that he has been able to enjoy so many happy years of retirement.
“He has been the most wonderful father to me. He really has been the guiding light in my life, always with his kind manner and selfless attitude. Apart from being so thoughtful and considerate, he has a wonderful sense of humour too, which has brightened the lives of all that know him,” said Maggie.
And hopefully a surprise appearance in the Limerick Leader, just in time for his 90th birthday, will brighten up Mike’s day in Bognor Regis.