Paddy Mulkerrin’s Birthday Party – May 1997
On 1st February 1997, a birthday celebration was held for Paddy Mulkerrins of Caheroyn Avenue at the New Park Hotel in honour of his 70m birthday. The party had been arranged as a surprise by his children.
Over 150 people attended including his eleven children, grandchildren and friends from as far away as the United States and South Africa. Paddy has spent his entire life living and working in Athenry. His mild manner and engaging smile are well known throughout the town.
It is less well known that he raised his eleven surviving children on his own, after his wife died when the youngest child was still in the playpen. He did this while working a full time job to support himself and the family. This was not a new experience for Paddy as he first became man of the house” at the age of eleven and a half, when his own father died. At that time he stayed in school and often worked the remaining hours digging potatoes, to help support his mother and seven brothers and sisters. At age fourteen Paddy quit school to work full-time cutting turf for four shillings and eight pence per day.
Paddy’s children realise that no work was ever too hard for him, nor any sacriﬁce too great, to keep the family together and bring them up as responsible members of the community while also maintaining a very positive attitude to life.
In July I995, Paddy’s ﬁrst cousin, Eddie Collins, who lives in America , visited Athenry during his ﬁrst trip to Ireland in search of his paternal roots He was accompanied by his close friend Dolores Stevens. During the time the spent with Paddy and his family, they developed a strong bond. They have the greatest admiration and respect for what Paddy who was able to accomplish during his lifetime under such trying circumstances. Dolores Stevens, who had worked for the Kennedy family for over twenty years, much of that time as Rose Kennedy’s personal secretary, was so impressed that she related the story of Paddy and his family to Senator Edward M, Kennedy of Massachusetts, and to the Ambassador of Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith. As a result, when Eddie and Dolores decided to come to Ireland to attend Paddy’s birthday celebration, both the Senator and the Ambassador were only too happy to send their best wishes. The Ambassador did this in the form of a letter and the Senator sent a personalised autographed picture.
Written by Ed Collins
Published here 18 Jan 2023