By Peg Prendeville

Peg O’Grady R.I.P.

Peg O’Grady R.I.P.

My neighbour Peg O’Grady passed away last weekend. This year marked her 90th birthday, which she celebrated in Brown Joe’s last August, and her 66th wedding anniversary which occurred on 15th October. She and Jack have lived together in Glenbawn since 1958. She was the last of her family. Sincere sympathies to her husband Jack, daughter Eileen, sons Thomas (& Marcella), John (& Mary) and Noel (& Noreen), grandchildren; Kieran, Orla, Leona, Kim, Ciara, Andrew, Robert, Suzanne and Jack; greatgrandchildren Jack and Tommy.

The following are extracts from a piece I wrote in the 2012 Loughill/Ballyhahill Newsletter about Peg.

Peg is one of the eight children born to John and Ellen Sheahan in Knockdown, Athea. Born in July 1925, Peg walked to school in Clounleharde. They walked barefoot in the summer while during wintertime they wore shoes. Her teachers were Master and Mrs Barry. Mrs Barry taught sewing and cookery as well as the usual primary school subjects. Now and then each girl in her class would be asked to bring the ingredients of a cake of bread and were taught how to make it and bake it on an oven over hot coals in the open turf fire. Peg was considered one of the best bakers there, as she had been taught at home. She still makes a great loaf of home bread! Peg did not tell me this herself but I have been told that she was also a great scholar going to school!

After attending school until 14 or 15 years of age both Jack and Peg went out into the working world. As well as helping her mother at home Peg went working in the bogs footing turf for the Limerick Co. Council who had a scheme going during the war years. Peg, and many girls of her age, would foot, and re-foot and fill lorries of turf in Spahill bog. It was hard work but it was a means of earning money. I often heard my father say that women worked hard in the bogs at that time in the days before pants were worn by women. No matter what the weather was like they all wore skirts and dresses as was the custom then. Just as Peg was a dab hand at making bread she was also known for her hard work in the bog and would be one of the first to be called on every year by the Council.

At that time O’Shaughnessy’s house in Knockdown, now Tigh Neidín, was a bit of a rambling house for card players. Remember there was no TV or electricity during those times so people would come from all around to pass the time playing cards like ‘41’ and so it was at a “Gamble in Molleens” that Jack O’Grady of Barneigue met Peg.   As a couple they would go to dances in Behane’s Hall or Pierce’s Hall.

One day in January 1949, aged 25, Jack decided he had enough hard work done at home and he “hit off for Newcastle West and bought my ticket to England for 2 pound and ten shillings.” Peg decided to join him. A few days later Jack cycled to Ardagh train station and, having sold his bike the evening beforehand, left it at the station for the new owner to pick it up. Meanwhile Peg got a lift to the station. Her cousin Annie Sheahan went with her also. Emigration was very common then, like it is now unfortunately. They got the train to Rosslare, the ferry across to Fishguard and the train again to London. It was a daunting experience for them as they had not been in a city before. “I was very lonely leaving my father and mother,” Peg admits. She went to live with her sister, who had gone before her, and Jack stayed in a Salvation Army Hostel for one shilling per night. Both got work immediately, Peg at housework and Jack in a furniture factory. That same year, in October 1949, they got married in London and moved into a flat to begin their life together. They came home that first Christmas for a short holiday. In 1958 they returned for good and built their house in Glenbawn.

One Sunday in 1962 Peg, now a mother to three young children, complained of an awful pain in her chest. Dr Kevin Barrett, RIP came and announced that Peg was seriously ill and would have to go to hospital “But call the Priest first as she may not survive the journey” he told Jack. Fr Guiry, CC in Ballyhahill at the time, came to her house and gave her the last sacraments and at Mass that morning he asked the parish to pray “for a young mother who was seriously ill”. Peg ended up having open heart surgery in Glanmire Hospital, Co Cork; she got a valve replaced and, 33 stitches and 3 months later, she came back home. “ L/B News 2012

They did a good job on that heart because it lasted for 53 more years. She was a great wife and mother and her children adored her. But Peg was ready to go now. “I had a good life” she said to me recently “tis time God called me home where my mother will be waiting for me.” Peg always had her Rosary Beads in her hand and took great comfort in them until she exhaled her last breath. May she rest in peace.

Don’t forget to support the Killeaney AFC by buying some lines for the Christmas raffle which takes place this Saturday night in the Knockdown Arms.

Congratulations to Cáirde Dúchais on the very interesting Athea Journal now on the shelves. It is good to see it continuing. Sad to hear that the BRJ will not be going to print anymore but time moves on and changes take place. We must keep on adapting.