Sunday, March 22, 2015

Michael and friends celebrate his 70th

Michael and Betty and family at the party.
At one stage it seemed that there was Michael 'Porky' Lambe and a 'Ghost of Porky Past' in the house, both at the same time, at Michael's 70th birthday celebrations in Fallons last night, writes Brian Byrne.

That was because Vivian Clarke, in a two-hander with partner in drama crime Bernard Berney, brought before the birthday boy his past as Kilcullen's only still-in-situ 'Lord Mayor'. He was the first of three to be when he was 'elected' back in April 1977 as the biggest fundraiser for the Kilcullen Community Council of the time. He is the only one of them still living here, and he has ever since diligently put on the distinctive robes of the position when called on for various local events.

That particular Lord Mayor gig was organised by Jim Collins, to raise money to enable the Community Council to develop the Valley Park out of the impossible scrubland which it had bought. Jim was there last night too, in a celebration that brought out a cross-community full house to pay homage to the man Bernard Berney described in a rare moment of clarity as representing 'the soul of Kilcullen'.

With Michael, what you see is what you get. And what we saw last night is a man who is enormously happy in his skin, who has an unashamed love of his home town and all of the elements in it with which he has been associated. Equally obvious is his love for his wife Betty, their children and grandchildren, and in-laws. "And the outlaws too," he admitted after being prompted for neglecting those in the very short speech last night of thanking everybody who had been involved in the party.

It was a family affair, of course. They had organised it. Timed it for a few days after his actual birthday, because the weekend is always better for these things. "I don't know if he knew about it, you don't know with him," Betty told the Diary. "I was getting phone calls from the children, and he was asking me what was going on?" Last night, when he was transported to Fallons on some pretext, he may not have been surprised. But he was visibly moved.

There were 'Seventy Shades' of Michael there, in a scrapbook of clippings and pictures from the Lord Mayor journey, in a photo album of family and friends that reeled back to his parents' time and wound forward to recent years. There were people from Kilcullen GAA, the club with which he has had a relationship for what seems forever. Most important, much of the wider Kilcullen with whom he became involved since he was old enough to make friends, and who are still with us, were also there last night.

The Lambes are originally Main Street Kilcullen, and Michael and his family represent an important element of the underpinning heritage that makes Kilcullen what it is today. Which has made it the kind of place that has attracted so many people to come and live here over decades.

Somebody said last night that a lot of people lately have been celebrating the once-finite biblical three score and ten. We have. And the thing is, for most of us, getting this far doesn't at all seem like any kind of end. Certainly, Michael is with a very strong cohort of 'Club 70' Kilcullenites not planning on going anywhere else soon.

Happy Birthday, Michael. All the pictures are here.