Bessie feels the love on 100th birthday

Bessie Connors was feeling the love this week as she celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family from her support bubble. With COVID restrictions preventing Bessie’s family from organising a big party to celebrate her momentous birthday they instead called on the people of Dundalk to send a card to Bessie with the hope of getting 100 cards for the popular Muirhevnamór lady.

In the end Bessie received almost 300 cards which left her staggered by the kindness on show from the people in her town. According to family member Louise McFarland the last year and a half has been tough on Bessie given the fact she has had to cocoon and the family wanted to make sure her 100th birthday didn’t pass without doing something special for her.

“Bessie was born on 6th July 1921 and has lived all her life in Dundalk. She started off in O Hanlon Park, moving to Hyde Park, Greenacres, St Clements park, and Muirhevenamor. She is fiercely independent and still lives in her own home. She’s as cute as a button and you’ll not get much past her! She left school at 14 and went straight to work in Rawsons for 30 odd years then a few other shoe factories around Dundalk before retiring from Winebergs,” explained Louise McFarland.

“Bessie is my partner Michael Harvey’s Auntie, but she reared him and therefore effectively his mother and Nan to our Son Mac and Michael’s two son’s Gary and Darren Harvey.

“I came up with the idea of ’100 cards for Bessie’ – one for every year of her life. The reason behind this, was because the past year and a half has been exceptionally tough on everyone, but especially Bessie. She has been shielding alone and not been able to get out to her groups and see the people she usually would. But she’s made of stern stuff and not moaned once. I thought if I could get 100 cards sent it would let her know that although people hadn’t been able to visit they certainly hadn’t forgotten about her.

“We had not been able to get over from the UK and would usually visit several times a year. The idea proved to be a huge success, the community in Dundalk were brilliant, they all rallied round and cards came flying in from all over the world and still are.

“When we left Ireland this week, we were a fraction off 300! People were so kind, they’d sent flowers, balloons, and gifts. There were hand-crafted cards from children it was just amazing. We really can’t thank everyone enough and of course to Colin Fee who allowed his garage The Maxol on the Castletown Road to be a drop off point.

“Bessie was totally overwhelmed. I don’t think she could quite believe that all these people knew it was her birthday and wanted to wish her well. She was staggered by people’s kindness and it totally made her day. The day of her birthday was spent celebrating with her family and close friends who had been in her support bubble. It wasn’t quite the ‘party’ we had planned for such a monumental occasion but given the COVID restrictions, we made the best of it whilst adhering to all guidelines. There was also a special Mass at the Holy Family Church in Muirhevenamor, where they also presented her with a huge bouquet of flowers which topped off a great day for Bessie,” stated Louise.

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