I was very fortunate to have had the experience to grow up with two of my grandparents Katie and John Donnelly. Both enjoyed very good health up until very close to their deaths. Katie died on 15 September 1960 age 77 years. John died on 15 December 1965 age 90 years. My two grandparents on my mother’s side were dead before I was born.
I was also fortunate to have lived 49 years with my mother and father on the farm in Conicare. They also enjoyed relatively good health up to their deaths. It was a great shock to me when both of them died within three days of one another. I buried my father on Sunday morning 12 May 1996, my mother died that night at 2.30 am on the 13 May 1996. They were both in their 88th year and if they had lived for another thirty seven days they would have been fifty years married. While it was very sad and a great shock, I now realise how happy it must have been for both of them.
My grandparents married on 19 February 1908. My grandmother inherited the farm in Conicare from Matthew Broderick and came to live in Conicare sometime in 1906. Matthew Broderick was her uncle, a brother of her mother, Mary Broderick.
My grandfather and grandmother told me many stories about their life. They told me that a person named Duddley Joynt owned the farm before the Brodericks. From Griffith’ Poor Law Valuation I know that Matthew Broderick (Snr) occupied the farm in 1856. His wife was Ann Hayes from Feakle.
There are two memories of Katie that will always remain with me. On my first day going to Abbey National School in 1951, she walked to the front gate with me to meet Paddy Joynt who brought me to school. On our way to the front gate, ESB workers were digging a hole with spades and shovels to erect a pole. I remember one of the persons was Hubert Fahy from Culleen, Abbey and he said if we put one of the two dogs that were with us down in the hole young dogs would grow. That pole is still there in 2007. The second memory I have is a sad one as it was the day Katie died. I was at the fair in Loughrea with my father buying ewes. My father bought me a long trousers. When we came home I put on the long trousers delighted because that time it was a big thing to move from wearing a short trousers to a long trousers. I decided I would cycle up to my cousins Michael and Larry Donnelly to show off my long trousers and collect the daily paper at their shop. Katie walked to the front gate with me and her last words to me were she was happy to see me a man. I was home in less than twenty minutes and she was dead in her bed. My mother and Mrs Finnegan were there. Fr O’Reilly arrived sometime later. For some time prior to Katie’s death she used to suffer loss of memory as she had a slight stroke about two years before that. My mother told me she was keeping a watch on her that evening and on her way back from leaving me to the front gate she said she would like to lie on her bed. She just lay down on her bed and said ‘God bless you’ to my mother and closed her eyes and died. It’s important I write this because she was always praying and she would mention having a happy death. John was on holidays in Dublin with his daughter Birdie. He came home next day and was very upset. Katie did a lot of praying as did John. The Rosary was said every night after supper. Katie would give out the Rosary and say the 1st decade, John the 2nd, Mary the 3rd, Connie the 4th and I the 5th. When she died my mother took over. Religion was very important. Mass, Confession. Communion, fasting on Fridays, first Friday Mass and first Saturday Mass. Fasting during lent was very important.
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