Friday, June 16, 2017

Anne Downey celebrates 100 years

A former longtime Kilcullen resident will be celebrating her 100th birthday on Saturday with her extended family, in Carlingford, Co Louth, writes Brian Byrne. She is Anne Downey, who with her late husband Paddy worked on the New Abbey Stud estate when it was owned by the late Ken Urquhart.

Her son Tony sent the Diary this piece about his mum's life. We're delighted to know that she is very good form and looking forward very much to the celebrations, which will begin with mass in St Anne's Church, Mullaghbuoy, on Saturday morning.

Many happy returns, Anne, from all in Kilcullen who fondly remember the Downey family.

Anne Downey of Mountbagnal was born on 12 June 1917 the eldest of 11 children of John and Margaret (nee Eaton) Doherty of Gyles Quay road, Riverstown. Anne attended Ramparts National School then took a position of Nanny and Governess to children of the Gaskin family of Dundalk. After several similar roles she found herself working with the family of a prominent trainer of the day, Tommy Nugent. This was initially on Co Meath then in Co Kildare when the business moved to The Curragh. It was here that she met her future husband Paddy Downey and eventually they both ended up working for the Urquhart family who ran a stud and mixed farming business.

Anne has many colourful stories of her time as a nanny including the bombing of Dublin in the Second World War.

Anne and Paddy married in 1945 and enjoyed more than 60 years of marriage until Paddy’s death in 2009 at the age of 91.

Anne was born with the Irish travel gene and had her first overseas trip in the 1930s, to Bournemouth in England, with the family she was working with at the time. Anne’s four children inherited the travel gene from her and all migrated to foreign parts. Not to be outdone by this, Anne and Paddy regularly visited all of them. She has made several trips to Australia and New Zealand (with various Asian stopovers), the Middle East, America and extensively throughout Europe. She only gave up overseas travel 18 months ago but still makes trips within Ireland.

She has always been a keen gardener and still tends her rose garden and continues to win occasional awards at local flower shows. These days she is quick to recruit help for heavier work from her many visitors. She takes a strong interest in politics and current affairs both Irish and world. She is well informed on issues of the day and has her own opinions on solutions which she is quick to substantiate. Anne remembers two world wars, a civil war, numerous regional wars, the great depression, the Troubles and the prosperity of the Celtic Tiger.

Anne is celebrating her 100th birthday with her four children and their partners, most of her seven grand-children and their partners and many of her nine (two more imminent) great-grand-children. Also celebrating with her are her four sisters and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.