Abbeyleix Community Hospital put on a wonderful party last Friday afternoon when their oldest resident reached his 100th birthday.
Richard Phelan, a native of Roskelton, Mountrath, has been living happily in the hospital for the past four years, and is healthy and well, according to his younger sister Margaret Tierney, who lives nearby.
“He is a great age, he is very well, with all his senses,” said Margaret, who is his only surviving sibling.
A large group of family and friends celebrated the special day with Richard, who was smartly dressed in his suit. The celebrations began with a mass by Fr James Kelly, PP of Raheen parish, at which he read out a beautiful letter sent to Richard by President Michael D Higgins.
Music and refreshments followed, though none of the alcoholic kind for Richard, who has been a pioneer all his life. Richard never smoked and indeed never married, and has a strong faith, all perhaps contributing to his long and happy life.
He was the third oldest of ten children of William and Mary Phelan, who had seven boys and three girls. He became a carpenter like his father, and worked the land too. A great GAA supporter, Richard played hurling with Raheen in his younger years, and loved to go matches.
Margaret praised the staff of the hospital.
“The nurses are wonderful, they are terribly good to him, they love him, sure he’s no bother,” she said.
She hopes the hospital which is threatened with closure, will continue to stay open.
“With the help of God he can stay on there. It’s terrible what’s going on. I don’t know where he’s going to go,” Richard’s sister said.
Her four children and seven grandchildren all joined in with the birthday celebrations, along with the staff of the hospital and many friends.