© 2012 Nuala Ni Loinsigh
On entering Big Dan's lounge in Sliabh Luachra, on Saturday June 9th, the blaze of coloured balloons and various bright candles set the atmosphere for this enjoyable party, when Hannah celebrated her seventieth birthday. Nobody was in any doubt about which birthday it was, as the number was conspicuously placed on each wall and on the balloons. Her age was no secret. In fact, she was proud to proclaim it to all the sixty people who attended, between family, extended family and good neighbours. There were various plates of food, salads, meats and mouth watering confectionery, all prepared by themselves.
On the night, with her natural curly grey hair framing her face, Hannah was dressed elegantly in a silk-like floral dress. She cut a dash as she entered the room.
Though her life has been often troubled even to this day, she enjoyed the gracious efforts of her family who treated her. The music was supplied by a guitarist (and his drum box) who entertained us with folk songs native to the area.
As the night wore on, and the vocal chords were lubricated, different people sang their party pieces. Her daughter Mary sang many a song, but my favourite was "Ellis Island". Some people from the Muskerry Gaeltacht regaled the crowd with their rousing rendition of "An Poc Ar Buile" and "Gile Mear".
However, the highlight for Hannah was watching her grandchildren dance a few sets in perfect rythm. How proud this grandmother was, seeing these champion dancers step it out, as she had done herself as a young girl. They owe their dexterity of foot to her genes and her dedication in driving them to competitions over the years. Now she saw the fruits of her tenacity and their labours on this special occasion of her birthday.
Weeks later, Hannah still talks of this memorable night. Every so often, she contemplates the many compliments bestowed on her that night. She holds her head high, as she reflects on the many people who appreciate and value her.