A CHANCE meeting at a dance led to an union that has lasted over fifty years and has produced six children, 16 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Jack O’Neill, who is originally from Paulstown met his wife to be Mary Sutherland, whom he describes as the love of his life at a dance in 1960. “We got dancing and we made a date. At the time Mary was working at the Tara Arms in Tullow. We had a couple of dates and all was going well once we lost touch.
“Back then people didnt have phones and when I rang her at work I couldnt get through to her. I didn’t realise that she was in hospital in Dublin with a fever. I went to other dances to look for her but I couldn’t find her. Around six months later I spotted her sister Sally at a dance in Bagenelstown and she told me that Mary had been asking for me. She had a number and I told her that I would come and visit Mary the following Sunday.
“Sunday came and there was heavy snow. I had a motorbike and there was a foot and a half of snow. On the way up there the snow got heavier and I fell off my motorbike there times. I remember thinking to myself no woman is worth this. It took me twenty minutes to dig myself out from under the bike and I went back home but then I changed my mind and turned around and went back. When I arrived at Mary’s family home and she was standing there at the gate. I was 21 and Mary was 18 when we met and we got married a year and a half later. She is a great woman and I love her very much,” he said.
When asked the secret to a long and happy marriage Jack explains that good communication is key. “We always talked to aonther. There is give and take and you have to respect the other person’s privacy. We always talked after a row and never went to sleep on a row. We both worked hard on it, it doesn’t always come easy but we have a great sense of humour and Mary is always smiling.”
The couple are now retired and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with a family dinner and a party in Paddy Brennans pub.