Four generations of one family gathered in celebration last Saturday, as one of Kilkenny’s oldest citizens marked a milestone 100th birthday.
Iseult Derlua O’ Connor, a resident of Archersrath Nursing Home on the Hebron Road, was joined by her daughter Leueen, her granddaughter Christine, and her great-grandaughter Phoebe (aged 11). They had temporarily left their homes in Manhattan for Kilkenny City, escaping New York the same week it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Ms O’ Connor enjoys remarkably good health in her advanced years and was delighted to celebrate the occasion, with Phoebe helping to blow out the candles on her birthday cake.
Ms O’ Connor was very active for many years in both the Kilkenny Golf Club and the Bridge Club. In her younger years, she also indulged a passion for tennis.
She has always been an outspoken woman, never afraid to voice her opinions or speak her mind on matters. She was ahead of her time in many ways.
She takes a keen interest in political and economic affairs; she has an inquisitive mind and followed stock market trends and the affairs of the day. She has always been a fiercely independent and private person.
Originally from Limerick, Ms O’ Connor’s maiden name was Gaffney, and she is the only surviving member of her family. Her father, James Gaffney, was the crown solicitor in Limerick for several years and one of the first presidents of the Irish Law Society – as was her brother Niall Gaffney, who inherited the solicitor’s firm.
The second-youngest child in her family, she had one brother and five sisters. She was sent to boarding school in England with her sisters at the tender age of seven.
Ms O’ Connor came home from England in 1941 during World War II, on the insistence of her mother. She had been active in the war effort, driving a truck and volunteering for the relief of people in Devon and Cornwall.
She married bank manager (the late) Rory O’ Connor in 1942, and together they had four children. Her sons Malachie and John passed away, while daughter Joan currently lives in Dublin, and Leueen in Manhattan.
When Mr O’ Connor was transferred to Kilkenny, the family moved to their new dwelling on Castle Road in the city. He was the manager of the AIB on Patrick’s Street, where he was a popular figure locally. After his retirement, they decided to settle in Kilkenny.