Delia’s 105th birthday celebrations

As a New Year dawned across the world on Thursday last a special celebration was taking place in Bangor Erris as family, friends and neighbours marked the 105th birthday of Mrs. Delia Gallagher.

Born on New Year’s Day 1899 to proud parents James and Bridget Ruddy. Delia has lived all her life in the village of Shragraddy on the banks of the Owenmore River. The fact that Delia has emulated her father by reaching the ripe old 105 is surely a rare family longevity record and is testament to the healthy lifestyle they enjoyed.

Delia had three brothers, John, Pat and Martin and four sisters, Mary, Catherine, Nora and Margaret. In 1920 she married her neighbour Michael Gallagher and they had one daughter Mary Jane (Kilker) with whom Delia still resides with. She worked in Hickson’s in Bangor for a time and enjoyed a life filled with hard work, health and the happiness that is generated in a tight-knit community.

On Thursday last her birthday was marked by a visit from the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Frank Chambers accompanied by Cllrs Frank Leneghan and Tim Quinn. Mass was celebrated by Fr Brian Conlon P.P. in the presence of a large gathering of family and friends. Present to mark the occasion were Delia’s daughter Mary Jane, seven of her eight grand-children, Mary, Angela, Colette, Jimmy, Michael, Peter and Patrick, while a message of congratulations was received from Brendan, who was unavoidably absent for the celebrations.

A number of her 12 great-grandchildren were also present as neighbours reminisced about Delia’s extraordinary life. Many theories were put forward as to the reason for her longevity with the proximity of the salmon from the Owenmore and the odd glass of brandy receiving particular support.

“A great neighbour who enjoyed a laugh and was never sick a day in her life,” was how one friend described her as the celebrations got into full swing.

The fact that six of Delia’s neighbours are aged in excess of eighty gives rise to the theory that the fountain of youth may indeed be situated on the banks of the Owenmore.

Courtesy of the Western People
January 2004