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The Clare Senior Camogie team 1944, which included the McNamara sisters. Back row, Kathleen ('Dokey'); third from left and Eily, sixth from left. Front row: Cella, first on left and Tesa, far right.

Adventurous Eily celebrates her 100th birthday 


CAMOGIE has been a life-long passion for Quin’s Eileen (Eily) McMahon, who celebrated her 100th birthday in recent weeks.

Alongside her sisters, Marcella (Cella), Maisie, Teresa (Tesa) and Kathleen (Dokey), Eily was known for her skill, athleticism and her dedication to her club.

Now in her 101st year, Eily is President of Clooney-Quin Camogie and Ladies Football Club and Vice President of the GAA Club.

Born Eileen McNamara, Eily was the second youngest in a family of nine from Hazelwood, Quin.

Mrs. Eileen Mc Mahon of Danganbrack Quin who recently celebrated her 100th birthday at home with family and friends. Photograph by John Kelly

Her parents were Jim McNamara and his wife Etta (née Neylan) and her nine siblings were Maisie, Mike, Joe, Paddy, Kathleen, Tom, Marcella and Teresa.

Having grown up in a house steeped in hurling, Eily went on to prove her own sporting prowess and talent.

“Her brothers were hurlers and their home was close to a pitch,” her daughter Geraldine told The Champion.

“There were always people coming and going and the family had a great time growing up.”

Eily and her sisters were among the founding members of Clooney Camogie Club in 1934. Eily, Cella, Dokey and Tesa were involved in winning the O’Grady Cup, the Dr Daly Memorial Cup and the County Championship, between 1934 and 1937.

“The camogie players trained alongside the hurlers in those days,” Geraldine said. “The sisters were all very athletic and mad about sport.”

As the years went on, Maisie and Mike emigrated to America, where they made their lives. Maisie met her future husband on the crossing and Mike became a train driver in Brooklyn.

Back home, Eily trained in shorthand and typing. She got a job in Shannon, at a time of rapid and exciting development of the facilities there.

“My mother knew the famous Brendan O’Regan,” Geraldine said. “She would tell us about the era when the flying boats were coming into Foynes.

“Hostels were being built in Shannon at the same time and Eily had gotten a job as a receptionist for them.

“She seemed to really like that. She stayed at The Old Ground Hotel and Brendan O’Regan would bring her out to work every day. When the hostels were built, she stayed there. On her days off, she would cycle to meet her friends.”

Eily met her future husband, Jack McMahon, while her sister, Marcella, met and married his brother Tom.

While romance was blossoming, Eily still had a sense of adventure and traveled to the US in 1948.

She stayed first with her brother Mike in New York, before going to Philadelphia, where Maisie lived. A couple of years later, with Jack working at Shannon Airport, Eily returned home and the sweethearts were married.

The couple were blessed with a son and a daughter, Cyril and Geraldine; grandchildren Aoife, Tony, Shane and Edel; and great grandchildren, Dylan, Lucas, Molly, Jack, TJ, Kate and Kelly Anne.

To this day, Eily remains a huge sports fan. Her daughter-in-law Anne, paid tribute to her life-long dedication to camogie.

“With her sisters, she played for Clare and got to a final in Croke Park, where they were badly beaten to Limerick,” she said.

“Still, Eily loved sport and it was a huge part of her life. When she was with her sisters, all they talked about was camogie. She loves to watch sport on TV. She loves all kinds of sport, even horse racing.”

Eily’s 100th birthday was marked at home, in the heart of her family. Maisie’s grandchild, Michael Bradley, attended the party, where Eily was honoured by those closest to her.

To mark her centenary, on April 27, Eily was joined by Clare hurlers Ryan Taylor and Peter Duggan.

She received her letter from President Michael D Higgins, who congratulated Eily on her longevity.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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