Nora O’Carroll (right) at her 80th birthday celebrations with, from left, sisters Kathleen, Dolly, Bridie and Nan.

Nora O’Carroll (right) at her 80th birthday celebrations with, from left, sisters Kathleen, Dolly, Bridie and Nan.

A Mullinavat family, long left the village but well and fondly remembered, enjoyed a big “do” in a stylish Dublin hotel recently.

Nora O’Carroll, who moved to the capital with her late husband Ker (Kieran), The Forge, Main St., and their young family all of fifty years ago, was at the centre of a 200-strong gathering of relatives and close friends in the Clarion Hotel near Dublin Airport. They were celebrating her 80th birthday.

Hale and hearty and sprightly – she’s still a dainty operator on the Pitch and Putt course – Nora was entitled to feel something of a youngster in the company of her four big sisters, Nan, Kathleen, Bridie and Dolly. The latter, the eldest at 93, has retired to Piltown from Guildford where she lived most of her adult life. The other three came to the party from various locations in England while younger sister Phyllis (77), was hugely disappointed not to be able to make it from Cumbria.

Others who travelled for the celebrations included Bridie’s daughter Noreen O’Brien, who flew in from New Jersey and Emele and Monique Rassam, in-laws of Nora’s son Michael, who came all the way from Toulouse in the South of France.

The six sisters survive from a family of twelve children born to Mary Walsh who was better known in the Mullinavat area as “Mrs. The Thatcher”. They were reared in the landmark little cottage, on the corner beside Mill Bridge, fondly remembered for the hundreds of bicycles parked in its garden at times of big dances in Harney’s Hall or matches in the local hurling field. So much was thought of generous hearted Mary that some swear she had the biggest funeral ever in the parish.

Nora’s beloved Ker, a fitter in the National Board and Paper Mills when they married in 1948, brought his wife and kids briefly to Granagh before the move to Dublin where he became foreman fitter at Lenihans of Capel St. He passed away in 1988 but Nora, strong, resilient and effervescent, has hidden her heartbreak through the years since, aided by a busy life as mother to Rody, Eamonn, Anne, Michael and Mary, as well as grandmother and great-grandmother.

All of her children and many of their offspring were at the party where tale after tale was recounted, mainly dating back to sunny childhood summers and white Christmases in South Kilkenny, as well as camogie matches in which a skilful, teenage Nora displayed some silky touches.

(Recalled too was Rody’s adventurous escapade in 1971 when he drove a Mini across the Sahara Desert for a bet. That attracted widespread publicity at the time and clearly his skill and enthusiasm was passed on in abundance to his son Kieran. Young Ker started racing karts in 1992 at age 10 and retired at 21 having won every award possible in the sport, including six national championships in his last two seasons and he was number one driver for Ireland in the Inter Nations Championship held in the UK in 1999).

Also helping Nora celebrate octogenarian status were nephews and nieces, grand-nephews and grand-nieces and friends from The Brock Inn Pitch and Putt Club of which she is secretary, along with many neighbours and friends from the Glasnevin North Active Retirement Association.

The party was a very special, warm occasion which further cemented relations among an especially close family, the older members of which, in their native place at least, will remain forever young.