Mrs. Eilish Geaney: A Remarkable Life – So Far
‘Work, work and more work,’ is the recipe for a long and healthy life. This was the prescription given to me on Sunday last by Mrs. Eilish Geaney who turns 95 this week.
Calling to see Eilish has been one of my greatest pleasures since moving back to the parish as she transformed from being solely a contemporary of my parents into someone that I now look on as both a role model and friend.
In Eilish’s long life she’s seen a great deal of change not just across the globe but in the rural and domestic sphere in Ireland.
A Wonderful Grandmother
“My father died when I was very small and my wonderful grandmother – Bessie McAuliffe – took me to live with her,’ Eilish explained.
“It wasn’t until I started school and someone pointed out my sister MaryAnn to me in the playground that I got to know my family again.”
Marrying in her early 20s Eilish, like so many women of her generation, took up the role of farmer’s wife.
“I’d be up each day at 6am, to get the old open fire lit. You’d work shoulder to shoulder with your husband and workmen at milking, the turf and saving hay, going back to the house throughout the day to fix the meals.”
Ingenuity and Management
The amount of ingenuity and management needed to keep such a busy household running to schedule would defy modern housekeepers today even with all of the conveniences at their disposal. On most days, Eilish would have to feed at least 15.
“I had a system that in addition to the pots on the crane over the open fire, I’d make a smaller fire off to one side on the hearth to cook something else. I didn’t think anything of the work involved. I just got on with it.”
Four Cakes of Bread Each Day
‘I’d bake up to four cakes of bread each day, they’d be washing clothes by hand, darning and knitting.
“You never sat down for a minute with your hands idle,” Eilish explained with a laugh.
“The men might be able to come in after the outside work was done, sit in the corner with the paper, but that wasn’t a luxury women had.”
Made Clothes for 10 Children
“I made every stitch of clothes for my 10 children when they were small. I can recall Anne coming in from school one day and being disappointed that she didn’t have something special to wear for a school event that was happening the following day.
“Working with a few yards of fabric, I stayed up till 4am that night and when Anne woke there was a new suit hanging up waiting for her.”
All of these reminisces are recalled with Eilish’s usual practicality and positivity.
The Arrival of Electricity
The arrival of electricity to the parish was the biggest improvement in domestic life for Eilish. As well, she believes that the greater equality in the home between the roles of men and women is another necessary improvement in the world today.
1926 was a remarkable year for births with Queen Elizabeth, Fidel Castro and Marilyn Monroe arriving onto the planet.
A Queen, A Rebel, An Icon
Eilish could be viewed as an amalgamation of these three individuals, namely, a queen, perhaps a bit of a rebel but definitely an icon.
“Keep going while you’re able to and no complaining,” are Eilish’s parting words of wisdom as I was leaving.
“I’m planning on making 100,” she added with a smile.
You know what, I wouldn’t doubt it. Happy Birthday Eilish, it’s a pleasure knowing you.
A New Chapter for Eileen
Congratulations to Mrs. Eileen Fitzgerald who recently retired from teaching.
She brought so much more to her teaching life than a focus on pure academics. The school garden in Banteer is a tribute to her skills in passing on her life’s knowledge to her young students. Wishing you a long and happy retirement, Eileen, where no doubt you will be planting more seeds and cultivating many new pursuits.
GAA News: Brosna’s Spirited Performance
Brosna put on a spirited performance against Ballydonoghue in the North Kerry Championship semi-final deferred from 2020.
The game in Moyvane saw Brosna draw level at full time, requiring an additional 20 minutes of extra time to be played.
The goal in extra time by Ballydonogue proved to be the bridge too far for Brosna.
With the light fading fast and a heart stopping goal chance by our side that just skimmed wide, the game slipped away.
Congratulations to Ballydonoghue who go forward against Desmonds in the final on 14 November which we will be hosting here in Brosna at 2pm. Full-time in Moyvane: Brosna 0-17. Ballydonoghue 3- 12.
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