Eileen reminisces on the past 100 years of living

There were celebrations in the Plunkett Home in Boyle recently when Eileen Cox (nee O Connor) turned 100.

Born 17th April, 1924, the youngest child of Martin and Ellen Conlon, Leam, Boyle, Eileen attributes her belief in the Sacred Heart to her strength today and of everyday she has lived. Each day after dinner she makes her way to the Oratory in the Plunkett Home to sit in front of the Sacred Heart picture.

Eileen also says she got loads of vitamins from the land, light little lettuce leaves, and fresh spring water from the well.

Today Eileen likes to watch TV, listen to the radio, take time to do a daily exercise workout and eat well. One of her greatest talents is her ability to converse with people about her life, making you feel at ease, as she tells her life story, how she farmed, how she survived while involving the listener with the odd question.

Eileen recalls that she worked hard all her life. She cooked dinners from 10 years of age and baked breads everyday too. She was born on Holy Thursday Easter week 1924 and was a twin with her brother passing away two weeks after birth and her mother on Holy Saturday night.

Her father looked after Eileen and her siblings, Jimmy, Peter and Margaret in their home in Leam, He often spent long days at the Fair. “Peter helped my father to look after us, he was six years older than me. Both Jim and Peter stayed with my father all the time” Eileen recalls.

“I spent some of my youth in Newtown, Cootehall with my Aunt Mrs Conlon who was married to Uncle Johnny Conlon”. Eileen talks about how good and kind the Conlon’s were to her, and how later, when she was older while shopping in Boyle she often met them for coffee.

“When we were young, we got slapped, so hard sometimes, I often got sick from it but we got on with it. We farmed the land, reared cattle, pigs, we were self-sufficient. All our foods were from our land. The potatoes, meats, the flour, breads. All healthy foods – straight from the farm”.

“We killed a pig every year. We had about 35 acres and daily chores to tend to, milking the cows and looking after the rest, sheep, pigs, cats, dogs, hens so we had eggs, meat, flour for the cakes / soda breads from the 10 stone bag of flour. We carried water from the well. Sowed the land, we had a horse, saved the turf on Canada bog, everyone had a Bog those days.

“We relished special times like Christmas and Easter when we always attended the Ceremonies. We had a goose or turkey in the pot over the open fire, we had the Wren boys on Stephens Day”.

“We cycled or walked 3 mile to and from the church in Boyle, crossed fields regardless of the weather – for Sodality, Confession, Mass and attended the Mission which lasted for one week, one week for men and one week for women and children. Confessions were also on different nights for different genders”.

“I attended Boyle National school until 14 years. That was the normal age children then finished up school.
I met Corny Cormac Cox, got married and moved to Grangemore, I was happy, we both worked hard on the farm, enjoyed music and going to dances together, I loved to cook and bake and I was good at it. A lovely neighbour Mrs Bridgie Fitzpatrick brought me to her house one night and showed me how to make a Christmas cake. I used to help her out and that’s where I learned”.

“Corny died in 2009, I continued to live at home until 2020 when Covid broke. I then moved taking up residence at the Plunkett Home.
On the 17th April the Director of Nursing at the Plunkett Nursing Home in her speech said: “Eileen is a great character and since last Christmas besides so much looking forward to the biggest Party event of the year for Eileen and seeing her friends, the Big cheque was very much anticipated. Eileen speaks of her family, husband and friends with great love and affection. We are blessed to have her here at the Plunkett Home, she is an inspiration to us all”.

Fr Gerry Hanly gave Eileen a special Birthday Blessing on the day.

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