GALLERY: 100th birthday celebrations for beloved Portlaoise great granny

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

A special Christmas birthday was celebrated by Portlaoise lady Evelyn Shore recently, surrounded by her family and friends.

Mrs Shore, from Old Knockmay, now lives in Droimnín Nursing Home in Stradbally, where her son Gordon and his wife Hillary, four of her grandchildren and 13 of her great grandchildren celebrated her 100th birthday on December 23.

There were flowers, music by great granddaughter Holly on the ukelele, and a big cake for all the residents with some of them joining in the party celebrations.

Gordon, a retired prison officer, is her only surviving son. Her other son Robin worked for Aer Lingus and he passed away some five years ago in England. Between them, Mrs Shore has six grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren.

“Her birthday was a lovely day for her, she got a nice letter and a cheque for €2,540 from the President. The nursing home gave us a big room and made us very welcome,” Gordon said.

A native of Inchicore in Dublin, Evelyn moved aged 15 to Portlaoise as her dad worked as a clerk for the railway. Her mother was a Young from Mountrath. The eldest of 8, she was talented at piano and met her future husband John, a mental nurse, when she played the organ for services in the Church of Ireland chapel in St Fintan's Hospital.

Gordon recalls his mother doing 'invisible mending' for Worsted Mills in Portlaoise. The family never drove a car but cycled everywhere. They even went as far as Carlow to visit their relatives the Fennell family, with the two boys on the handlebars.

Her husband passed away 30 years ago, but Mrs Shore continued an active life in Portlaoise.

“She was very strong and independent with lots of friends. She was in the Mothers Union, and loved to go on trips with O'Briens Coaches. She was always healthy and always active, though she did smoke up to 30 years ago. She is still good physically, she can still walk as fast as any of us,” her son said.

Mrs Shore was a talented seamstress, knitter and crocheter too he said, making crochet blankets for all her grandchildren.

She played piano for Portlaoise pantos over the years too, and greatly enjoyed going into town on her bicycle and chatting with younger mothers in the shopping centre café.

Just ten years ago she went on a rather more exciting trip.

"When she was 90 she went up in the helicopter over Stradbally Steam Rally, she said she wanted to do it. She was a very strong independent lady," Gordon said.

Scroll through our gallery of photos from Mrs Shore's party, taken by Michael Scully.