A Legend In His Own Lifetime

One Hundred Years Young



Neilus O'Leary, Derrinabourka, celebrated his 100th Birthday this year and he is one of our oldest and most respected gentlemen on this side of the parish.  1996, his hundredth year, has been a busy one for Neilus.  He has given a talk on Radio with many interesting stories and anecdotes.  He has also been the hero of many parties to celebrate his longevity.  Amongst these was the first O'Leary Clan Gathering in Inchigeela in September, where 200 O'Learys from all over the world, gave thanks and mementoes to celebrate the occasion.  All his fellow O'Learys join with all his many friends in the parish, in wishing him well, and hoping for many further happy years to come.

The following article taken from 'Cogar' 1990 gives an account of Neilus' eventful life.

Born on the 23rd of April 1896, Cornelius O'Leary has enjoyed a long, happy, and fulfilling life.  He went to Ballingeary National School until he was fourteen and then worked on the farm at home where he has continued to live and work, virtually without a break, ever since.  He always had a great love of horses and is one of the most knowledgeable and competent horsemen in the locality.  He farmed his holding in Derrinabourka with skill and tenacity over a great number of years where he kept cattle, sheep and pigs mainly.  He often had to get up at two or three in the morning to drive cattle to the Fair, sometimes as far away as Kenmare.  He is also known to have brought a sheep in trouble several miles across rough ground - on his back - as a true shepherd would do.  A man with a tremendous sense of humour and a great turn of phrase - in other words Neilus is a great man to tell a story or yarn.

Is maith is cuimhin le Neilus an lá a tháinig an teileagraf go Béal Atha'n Ghaorthaidh.  D'fhág sé an tigh go luath an mhaidin sin, ag déanamh ar an scoil, mar dhea.  Bhí sé ag súil le lá bríomhar, ach ní mar sin a tharla.  Bhí a lón ite aige roimh meánlae agus bhí lá fada, ocrach, leadránach roimhe.  An t-aon rud a chabhraigh leis dearmad a dhéanamh ar a ghoile ná an grúpa a bhí ag ardú pollaí teileagraif in aice leis.  Cé nár thaitin an scoil mórán leis, bhí an lá seo níos faide ná haon lá riamh.

One of the most athletic and at the same time strongest men in the locality, Neilus loved all types of sports, and he won several medals for Tug-of -War in the 1920's and 1930's.  He still takes a keen interest in Tug-of -War Competitions.  Each year at the Show (which he has never missed) he follows the Competition closely, but he hasn't much 'meas' on present day teams.  When comparing them to his own teams of long ago, he feels that they're not 'half the men'  'nor they haven't the shoes'.

He  was also an excellent dancer and could hold his own with men quarter of his age in Jig, Reel and Polka Sets.

Níor chuaigh Neilus rófhada ó bhaile chun bean chéile a fháil.  Bhí sé ag siúl amach le Ellie Hyde, Screathan Mór ar feadh tamaill fada sula bhfuair sé an misneach ceiliúr pósta a chuir uirthi.  Pósadh iad i mBéal Atha'n Ghaorthaidh.  Chaitheadar saol fada sona sásta le chéile go dtí go bhfuair Ellie bás i dtús Feabhra, 1987, cúpla seachtain roimh a ceiliúr pósta 60 bhliain.  Ar dheis láimh Dé go raibh a hanam.

Neilus loved fishing in the local rivers and in the lake on his own land.  He had his own double barrel shotgun and while he liked to shoot the odd woodcock, grouse, or pheasant, he got most enjoyment from hunting and shooting grey crows, magpies, foxes, badgers, etc.  He took the task so seriously that a whole area around Derrinabourka is a no-go area for all types of vermin.  Any rabbits, foxes, etc. which he failed to line up in his sights he succeeded in catching in his snares and traps which he was very good at setting.  He always had great sheep dogs and cattle dogs and is very fond of fox terriers about which he tells many true stories.

Neilus has rarely been sick and has never been in hospital for more than a few days.  He has been smoking 'ever', likes a drop of punch and has been known to murder a pint of stout after a hard days work.


I'm sure that all our readers will join with us in wishing Neilus a happy Christmas and health and happiness in 1997. 

(Niallus passed away on 25 January 2000 aged 103.
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis)