Jim McManamon with his eight children and some of his 31 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren outside his home in Skirdagh. Pic: Michael Quinn
WHEN the family of Jim McManamon made plans to organise his 100th birthday celebrations, they decided that due to Covid-19, they would have to keep it a low-key affair at the family home. But their neighbours in Skirdagh, Glenhest and Newport had other ideas and felt that Jim 100th birthday deserved the special treatment.
Unbeknownst to Jim’s eight children, 31 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, they organised a Garda led parade in a vintage 1948 Ford Anglia car all the way into Newport with neighbours and friends lining the roads to wish Jim a happy birthday.
“We were genuinely blown away by the love and generosity of it,” Jim’s grand-daughter Ailis McManamon told The Mayo News after last Thursday’s celebrations.
“We were going to organise something small at the house just for family to mark the celebration but the neighbours around granddad took it into their own hands to organise a parade and for the whole community to come together. They all organised the parade, the garda escort and the vintage car and for everyone to be out at a certain time.
“Going through Newport was just something else. All the businesses stood out with balloons and flags and banners. It was actually breathtaking to be able to drive through town and see this was all there for granddad.”
Born in Skirdagh outside Newport on July 9, 1920, one of nine children to John and Nora McManamon, Jim lived his whole life in the house he was born in. His son Noel puts his long life down to working outdoors all his life as Jim was, up until two years ago, feeding sheep on the family farm. However long-life is also in the genes with his father living until he was 97 and his sister Winnie was 101 when she died two years ago.
‘Best day ever’
Noel described Thursday’s celebrations as one of the best day’s ever and said his father took it all in, waving at the crowds from the front of the vintage car ‘like the Pope’.
One of Jim’s great passions is the card game 25 which he plays ‘religiously’ every Thursday and Sunday and it was those friends and neighbours who gave him a guard of honour to start off the parade.
Ailis said the family never expected their neighbours would go to so much trouble and they are really appreciative of the effort they put in.
“We have to thank all the neighbours and the people of Newport who made the day so special. They showed the calibre of community in Skirdagh and in Newport especially after everything that has gone on. It was so nice to have a positive celebration. Being part of that as grandchildren is something we will never forget.”
Ailis explained that family is the most important thing to her granddad and together with her cousin Emma Duffy, they said that growing up they loved visiting their grandparents. Emma added that when Jim’s wife Mary died in 2011, he continued to make her brown bread for them and all the family go to Skirdagh for a gathering every Christmas Eve.
“Always and forever grandad has been a people person and always believes in celebrating occasions with family. That has gone through our family,” said Emma. “All the cousins are so close because granny and granddad have given us a house we were able to build our relationships in. We’d all pal around granny and granddads house during the summer.
“We are in our twenties and granddad has never been old fashioned, he has always been so much fun and loves life. He loves and adores his family and loves people to be in the house. We always got that love and affection every time we visited the house in Skirdagh. I know everyone feels the same about their granddad but he is 100 percent our hero … there is something so special about granddad Jim.”