Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod


Siblings Reunite

In what has been described as a one-in-a-million success story, a brother and sister, separated for over half a century, have finally been reunited thanks to chance discovery of a message on a Mohill website.

Desmond Beattie and Mary McGonigle were separated and raised by different families over 55 years ago.

Years later Desmond, who was born in 1947, began a search for relatives of his mother's family, Josephine Beattie, unaware that he had a younger sister still living in Leitrim.

In 2002, Desmond posted a message on Mohill town website appealing for information on relatives of his mother, Josephine Beattie.

Although he received some details from his cousins, it was only when local woman Maura Mahon visited the site that he realized his younger sister, Mary, was living in the Ballinamore area.

"When I saw Desmond's message posted on the website I couldn't believe it," Maura admitted.

"I had been going to bingo with Mary in Cloone for a number of years and she'd told me how her mother was Josephine Beattie from Mohill."

After contacting Desmond, Mary and her long-lost brother were finally able to meet up for the first time in half a century last week. Sadly their mother, Josephine passed away in the early 1980s in England, but the siblings have enjoyed the chance to catch up on a lifetime of memories.

"I'm just delighted that this story has had such a happy ending. It was just by chance that I happened to be on that website but I'm glad I was able to help," said Maura.
- Leitrim Observer
Oldie But Goody

The pffice of President Mary McAleese has confirmed that O’Callaghan’s Mills man Paddy Gleeson, who celebrated his 106th birthday on May 20, is Ireland’s oldest man.

Gleeson, who resides at Raheen Community Hospital in Tuamgraney, ranks seventh, however, among Ireland’s oldest people, with six women ahead of him on the list, the eldest of whom is 108.

Gleeson now boasts six presidential medals for each birthday he has celebrated since turning 100 in 2004.

He moved to Raheen Community Hospital in 2006 but lived independently there in Knockatullish until 2008 before he was welcomed into the main hospital.

Like many birthdays before, the staff at the hospital rallied around and held a party for Gleeson in the day center for all his family and friends.

He was formally presented with his sixth commemorative medal from President Mary McAleese by staff at the hospital and he was delighted at such an achievement.

Maggie Atkinson, acting director of nursing at Raheen Community Hospital said, “All who were present were very proud to be part of such a significant milestone in Paddy’s life.”

“Paddy took pride of place at the party and reminisced about his past when he was a young man getting the better of the Black and Tans,” she said.

Atkinson also remarked about Gleeson’s attitude to life. “He remains very positive about his life, and his reasons as to why he has lived to such a huge age are due to his being nice to everyone and that they were nice to him. He never drank or smoked and he never got married.”

Local historian Tomás MacConmara commented on the wealth of local knowledge Paddy continues to provide to his community.

“One of his interesting stories about the War of Independence describes the time he had to climb a tree to escape the Black and Tans. He was up the tree from 7 p.m. to midnight watching them raiding houses. It is just a powerful connection to have,” MacConmara said.

“To have the recollections of someone who was a teenager at the time, I just can’t emphasize enough how unique it is to have his memories.”
- Clare Champion
Rental Market Soars

Property sales may not be a hot topic at the moment, but the ever-expanding rental market in Ireland is generating some interesting new trends.

“Because people can’t get finance they are resorting to long-term rental. So all those properties not sold are being channeled on to the rental market until it picks up again,” reports Westport auctioneer Teresa Walsh.

However, because of this new demand for rental properties, those most commonly on the wanted list are creating new shortfalls.
“My experience in Westport is that good quality three and four-bed properties are in very short supply. Because it’s more difficult to get finance people have no alternative but to rent,” Walsh says.

“However, the type of properties prospective tenants are seeking are difficult to find top end properties, with the best of furnishings and fittings and a good garden for the family.”

Olivia Needham of DNG Needham auctioneers has experienced a similar trend.

“We’re definitely under serious pressure with some clients who can’t get a house. There is a reasonable supply of apartments but a lot of them are unfinished so the supply is choked up,” she says.