Sunday 27 October 2013

Nellie Shortall's 100th Birthday

Nellie Shortall
On Thursday last, 24th October, I had the privilege of being present for the celebration of the 100th birthday of Nellie Shortall, The Valley, Fethard, Co.Tipperary. Nellie and my late mother, Margaret Callanan, were first cousins. I lack the required ability to describe adequately Nellie's fine qualities, and I will merely write that she is a very special lady.

Originally Fitzpatrick, in 1949 Nellie married Larry Shortall from Gowran, Co.Kilkenny. Larry died suddenly, while doing his work, in 1978. Happily, their children Marie, John, and Ann were all present with their own families for Nellie's special day last week.

The Fitzpatricks were evicted from their farm in Tullaroan, Co.Kilkenny, in the 1880's, when their first cousin, and neighbour, paid the rent to the landlord and took over the land. The land should have been restored to the Fitzpatrick's under the 1905 Land Act, but never was. The family went to reside with a relative near Grangemockler, Co.Tipperary, quite close to the famous Hogan family of Currisila.

Nellie's father, Paddy Fitzpatrick, was an outstanding ploughman who won five All Ireland horse ploughing championships in a row. He also worked on the Bagwell Estate at Marlfield, Clonmel and joined the Irish Guards. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, he was called into action. He, thankfully, survived and, shortly after returning home, took up employment as a linesman at Jonesborough, Co. Armagh. He was killed in very suspicious circumstances while working at the Station in 1920 during a violent period in Irish history. Nellie was only seven years old at the time. Her mother was distraught with three young children and expecting a fourth. Her husband's body was taken back to Fethard where the family had a connection. They had no grave of their own, but a kind gentleman from Fethard came forward and offered his own grave as he knew, and respected, Paddy Fitzpatrick. The offer was accepted and Paddy was laid to rest in the old grave yard on the New Inn Road out of Fethard.

Nellie worked in Kildare, Dublin, and London. On her marriage to Larry she resided in Fethard where she remained to the present day. Her sister, Josie, died last year at her home in the Bronx, New York, aged 101. Her brother, Tommy, aged 93, resides in New York, where he has been for many years.

The mass in the Church of The Holy Trinity, Fethard, on Thursday was highlighted by the beautiful music provided by Nellie's grandchildren, her son John and daughter Ann; and the magnificent singing of cousin Cherrie Betts-Hally. When Cherrie sang How great thou Art with an arm around Nellie, my tears came down. A wonderful occasion for a wonderful person.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Christy,
    Just finished reading your article on Nellie.
    It was fascinating.
    Look forward to hearing more when you come up at Xmas
    Look forward to seeing you soon
    Kind Regards
    Ann & Phil