Kilkelly couple celebrate 73 years of marriage

Posted in Connect on February 23, 2017.

KILKELLY couple Bill and Mary Hunt celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary last Saturday. And this remarkable duo took it all in their stride.
Before the party in the family home in Derrynalecka just outside Kilkelly, Bill (98) was brought into Kilkelly where he spent two happy and contented hours in The Corner House Bar where he made himself very much at home. It set him up nicely for the party that was to follow.
Family and friends celebrated in style in Derrynalecka and, getting into the swing of things, Mary (94) also enjoyed a hot whiskey or two along the way.
Mary (Lavin) was born in Woods beside Midfield in 1922 and was one of a family of eight.
When Mary finished school, like almost all of her generation, she worked at home and on the farm. She was just 16 when she left for England. Her sister Katie was already over there working as a barmaid.
Mary went to Erdington, five miles from Birmingham, where she worked in the same bar and restaurant as Katie, cooking and cleaning and undertaking other tasks as well.  Her father was also over there at the time and worked on a nearby farm.
The War broke out shortly after Mary went to England. She still has clear memories of a bomb that was dropped close to the pub where they worked and seeing aeroplanes overhead at night and taking shelter in the cellar under the pub.
Bill was born in Derrynalecka in 1918 and came from a family of nine. He attended Kilkelly National School and worked on his father’s land in his young days. There was nothing easy in those times. It was all hard manual work making stone wall ditches, saving the hay, and growing the crops.
He went to England in 1937 and his first job was in Newport on the Isle of Wight, thinning sugar beet, digging potatoes, and other crop related work. He was paid £2 a week at the time.
Bill met Mary Lavin during the Christmas of 1943 in Willie Campbell’s dance hall in Midfield. The venue has been owned by John and Mai Julian for many years now.

Quick decision
He asked her for a dance and it all started from there. After just eight weeks of courting, Bill had his mind made up and he asked Mary to marry him. She accepted on the spot.
Back in those times, you could not marry during Lent. Bill and Mary decided another seven weeks was too long to wait so they got married on Shrove Tuesday, February 22, 1944 in Swinford Church!
Canon Higgins officiated at the ceremony. After Mass all the guests had a couple of drinks in Douglas Kelly’s pub (where Moore’s shop is now) and they returned to the Hunt household in Derrynalecka for a celebration party and dance for neighbours and close friends. There was an 18 gallon barrel of triple x Guinness and whiskey and they enjoyed set dancing and a sing-song after.
Mary and Bill raised a family of four, William and Michael who reside in Derrynalecka, Josephine who is in Dublin and Eileen who resides down in Tralee. They have 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. One of them, Karen, who resides nearby, ensures that they get the very best of care.
What is the secret of a long and contented life together? Take it from the experts: “Hard work, a drink in moderation, small meals often, patience and communication, and a bit of compromising.”

Mayo News – 23rd February 2017

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