Happy family: The Lynchs and O’Connors at the birthday celebration for Nora in Athea Pictures: Bridie Murphy Photography
ONE hundred-year-old Nora Lynch’s family told her they were taking her for a drive on Thursday evening and she got the nicest surprise of her life.
Athea Tidy Towns pulled out all the stops to celebrate their only centenarian.
Damien Ahern, secretary, said a large crowd lined both sides of the street in anticipation of Nora's arrival by garda escort. Many of the premises on Colbert Street had also been decorated for the occasion.
“At 7pm, the siren from the garda car could be heard approaching the village followed by Nora being escorted by her son Jim. The crowd cheered and clapped and held up banners made by some of our younger residents.
“Nora was paraded up and down the street before entering the church grounds where a mini concert was organised for Nora,” said Damien.
Treasurer of Athea Tidy Towns, Henry Moran welcomed Nora; gave a brief summary of her life and congratulated her on reaching her 100th year.
Canon Tony Mullins then sang Happy Birthday to Nora as well as Limerick You're a Lady. Born and bred a Kerry woman, Nora's favourite song - The Valley of Knockanure – was sung by Hannah Mai Collins accompanied by Nora. Local musicians also provided entertainment.
The birthday lady also took the microphone to thank everybody for coming and wished them all health and happiness.
There were presentations of flowers and of 'Nora's box of wishes'.
“This box had been left in Collins’ shop in the week leading up to Nora's birthday. People were encouraged to write their birthday wishes on a piece of paper and place it in the box. It was wonderful to see the younger members embracing this idea by colouring and painting pictures for Nora.
“In the midst of the Covid pandemic, it was a wonderful occasion for the community to come together to celebrate a positive occasion and to honour our centenarian,” said Damien.
One of Nora’s three children – Hannah O’Connor – said her mum “enjoyed every bit of it”.
“It was fantastic. It was a joyous occasion and it was a total surprise to mum. She didn't know a thing about it.
“We told her we were bringing her for a drive into Athea. She knew absolutely nothing about it,” said Hannah – one of three siblings with Jim and John.
Married to Diarmuid and living in Killeedy, they have two daughters – Angela and Yvonne. While Jim and Bridie Ann Lynch have one son – Jason. They were all there on the night to celebrate with their famous relation. Nora’s second son John lives in New York with wife Concepta.
“There was a huge crowd out. They put up banners and there were beautiful hanging flower baskets. There was lovely music played by musicians - it was all absolutely lovely.
“Athea Tidy Towns pulled out all the stops. Great credit must go to Damien Ahern and to Eileen and James O'Sullivan and to Henry Moran and all the other members of the committee,” said Hannah.
She said her mother is “in great form for 100” and “her health is very good”.
While Nora never smoked she did enjoy an odd social drink.
The church grounds was a fitting location for the celebration as Nora has a deep faith.
“Every night she puts on the rosary before she goes to sleep. She has a cassette tape, she puts that on before she goes to sleep and she turns that on again in the morning.
“She loves to read the paper and is very interested in current affairs. She listens to Radio Kerry and does wordsearch. She has her own kind of routine. She is very content,” said Hannah.
And as well as the newspaper, Nora has lots of birthday cards and lovely messages to read this week.