Well, it all started before Christmas, when my friend Bev and I received the loveliest card from Lily Finnegan, a 91 year old lady, who lives near Gort.
She follows my adventures in the paper and even keeps the cuttings of my articles. My number one fan!
Lily loves cats and dogs but she said she especially loves me. I was so happy to get the card that I was nearly in tears and determined that I had to meet Lily.
From her card, I knew she lived beside the Round Tower in Kilmacduagh, but how to make contact in secret? As a roving reporter, it was easy. I went onto the world wide woof and saw that there was a B&B right beside the tower. Surely they’d know Lily? I got the hoomans to ring, as on the phone, all barks sound the same and besides, I’m deaf so the phone is useless to me.
We got through to Josephine and wouldn’t you know it, she turned out to be Lily’s daughter-in-law. Now we were really getting somewhere.
I barked at my editor and made him assign me to the story – my very first interview. Maybe I’d get the Pawlitzer Prize.
I decided to make the day extra special, so directed my hoomans to take me to visit Lily on Valentine’s Day, with some flowers and chocolates to thank her for her lovely card and thoughts. We picked up Bev in Gort before driving to Kilmacduagh, as I wanted her there as well.
When the door opened, I thought it must be some mistake. There was no way this lady was 91, but indeed it was Lily. She’s as fresh and spritely as myself. I was dressed to the nines in my new AG Dog Fashion Valentine’s dress and it was worth all the effort to see Lily’s face light up as she realised who was at the door.
Lily bakes every Tuesday, so the hoomans had lovely looking scones while I had some treats. I helped Lily finish her baking in the kitchen before we settled down for a chat.
She has always loved dogs and cats, her first dog being a Pomeranian, who waited for her to come back from school every day. Her last pets, Brownie, a dog who lived to 15 and Sooty, her black cat were best friends and are buried together in the garden with stones and flowers to mark their graves. What a lovely thought that they’re looking after each other still.
Lily remembers her childhood cat sleeping with her until it started purring and was discovered by her mother and removed from the bed.
She raised one daughter and six sons in a thatched cottage not far from where she now lives. She had no electricity or running water but she managed with her husband, who passed away 20 years ago.
All her family still live nearby and her son Noel, lives with her. He works for the Office of Public Works and is currently working across the road in Kilmacduagh.
In the course of conversation, I discovered that the hoomans know Lily’s nephew, Cathal, and in fact were at his wedding. I’ll never get over how many people the hoomans know. It must be half of Clare at this stage.
Through Lily’s life, she could never abide cruelty to animals and wouldn’t let cattle or any farm animals be mistreated but cats and dogs are still her first loves.
Every Thursday, three papers, The Farmers Journal, The Connacht Tribune and The Clare Champion come into the house and Lily’s first question is ‘is Daisy in the paper?’
I was so happy to visit Lily and her lovely family. It’s impawtant to make memories and connections and I’ve made a friend for life.
Photos by Paul Corey.
Motoring editor - The Clare Champion
Former Chairman and voting member of Irish Motoring Writers' Association