Bronx Irish legend turns 100 and throws massive party in Yonkers
Joe Cunningham, music legend, celebrates in style surrounded by friends and family
Three days before the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 a special little boy was born. His parents, living in Crusheen, Co. Clare, called him Joe. He was the sixth child born into the family.
There would be one more after Joe Cunningham. Little did his parents know then that a century later their precious son would still be alive, healthy as a horse and living life to its fullest potential in New York.
Co. Clare export and Yonkers resident Joe Cunningham turned 100 on April 11. To celebrate this special and rare birthday Joe’s family threw him a massive bash at the Kerry Hall on Sunday.
The Clare man keeps himself young at heart. He doesn’t allow anything to stop him.
He is still driving his car. He has been known on occasion, mainly when there are events on at the Irish Consulate in Manhattan, to drive himself into the city.
He gets up every day, climbs down (and up later) six flights of stairs in his apartment building and drives himself to visit his wife Rose, a mere 95,, who now lives in a retirement home.
People came from all over to help this wonderful man celebrate his centennial. Friends and family came from Ireland. Others traveled from different parts of the U.S. and Joe, often dubbed the mayor of Woodlawn because he knows everyone, welcomed all his guests.
Donning a dapper tuxedo Joe, like always, wore a huge smile on his face. He was elated to be celebrating such a special birthday. He made it his business to get around to all his guests and tell a few tales.
Joe, accompanied by his wife Rose, 95, their children and grandchildren, is known for spinning a few yarns, and he didn’t hold back on Sunday either. He quickly made people forget their woes. There was nothing but smiles and good cheer around the Kerry Hall, and this was thanks to the birthday boy.
Several dignitaries attended Joe’s special day, including Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny and his wife Hanora. Joe’s guests were entertained by the Cunningham Brothers, Joe and Rose’s sons.
Joe set up the band many years ago and he was very proud on Sunday to have his own blood perform for his friends.
So what is his secret to living 100 years? The answer is his positive outlook on life.
Joe always has a kind word to say. He makes the best of a bad situation and always sees the glass half full.
“He never had stress, he never let himself get stressed,” Joe’s son Jim shared with the Irish Voiceon Sunday.
“He eats fried food and has never been sick a day in his life.”
Joe worked hard for everything he had. He never paid for items on credit and when he could afford something he would get it.
During the week he also attends art classes at the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers and is one of the main members of the very active senior group there. He keeps busy and never complains. He can even use a computer.
“I learned to type using all my fingers so when I’m on the computer I can always look up at Rose,” he once said.
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