SHE has spent sixty years in Celbridge and remains well known in her community not least due to a great talent for recitation.
On 20 October last, Theresa McNally celebrated her 90th birthday in the Kildrought lounge, close to St. Patrick’s Park, her home since the mid 1950s.
While the dominant work culture of her early years, determined that men went out to work and women stayed at home,
Theresa’s life suggest a more complex story from the time she married her Leixlip husband, Eamon McNally.
Eamon, a carpenter by trade, who was also attracted to the stage, passed away seven years ago, aged 82.
In the company of her daughter, Antoinette, Theresa, outlined to story of her life until now, where she cares for eight grandchildren and a ten month old great grandchild.
Born on 18 October 1922, she was the daughter of a small cattle farmer and his wife, Pat and Ann Hanbury, who lived near Gort in Co. Galway.
There were twelve children, of whom, three survive, Theresa, her 96 year old sister, Mary Kerwick, and 80 year old Margaret Finnerty, who attended her 90th party.
Theresa went to Kilaconty national school and, like many of her peers, left full time education at the age of fourteen.
She worked in child care with a Garda based at Edgeworthstown, Longford, for a period before heading to work in Leixlip, where she met husband, Eamon.
She was eighteen when she went to work in London and they got married there in 1922.
The priest was a Fr.Bell, from Leixlip, working in Kilburn parish.
The couple returned to Ireland shortly afterwards.
“He was a carpenter and got plenty of work,” said Theresa, who worked for 17 years in St. Raphael’s in Celbridge, making breakfast for the Brothers.
She recalled rising at 6.30am in 1960 to make breakfast for twenty St. John of God Brothers.
Before the St. Raphael’s period, she worked for a shorter while in the wool business in Celbridge Mill.
She also recalled herself and her cousin doing housework in the Hone household on Captain’s Hill, now Leixlip House Hotel.
These days, she has an active life attending the Maynooth Day Centre and the Silver Thread club in Celbridge, not forgetting a regular call to bingo.
Theresa has two daughters, Antoinette (Celbridge) and Siobhan (Drogheda) and son, Larry, Carlow.
Like his late father, who took part in amateur drama, Larry continues that tradition.
Another family member, Antoinette’s cousin, Gerard Hanbury, has just written a book on Oscar Wilde
It was while attending a play in Leixlip, the Collen Bawn, in which Eamon was taking part that Theresa met him.
“He was a good carpeneter,” said Theresa, who recalled a older much Celbridge. “We didn’t have to lock bicycles.”
She and Eamon lived in the Coneyboro area of Leixlip near the Salmon Leap canoe club for a short while but moved to St. Patrick’s Park in the mid 1950’s.
Theresa’s memory remains very good in some aspects and marvellous in others.
At her recent birthday celebrated she used her memory skills to recite a couple of long poems.
- Henry Bauress