Kevin McGeough (100) shows no sign of slowing down
Clutching his Centurion Bounty celebration letter, signed by President Michael D Higgins, Kevin McGeough posed for photos at his 100th birthday celebrations at St Peter’s Nursing Home with a fresh-faced look that belied his landmark birthday.
Born on May 8th 1918 in the Lynns in Annagassan, Kevin joined a sizeable family of ten children – Kitty, Rose, Moya, Tommy, Michael, Gerry, Peader, John and Jemmy.
A pupil of Kilsaran NS, he left at aged 14 to become a trainee butler to Lady Bellingham - her first butler it is understood. Perhaps not a man born to serve, that posting didn’t last long.
He worked on farms all around the area and all the while kept a part time job in McGuinness’ in Annagassan – plus Kevin was arguably a pioneer of the ‘mobile business’ in that time. Known as ‘The Roving Barber’, he travelled around on his motorbike – latterly a car – providing haircuts in back rooms of pubs.
For some rural men, the idea of travelling into a nearby town to a barber wasn’t one that appealed.
In 1945, aged 27, Kevin joined the Great Northern Railway where he worked in Dundalk. However, with a family of nine to support – eight children and wife Kathleen who had married in 1949, Kevin also undertook salmon fishing to make sure enough food was on the table.
Kevin has lived the most extraordinary life. Born just as the First World War drew to a close, his life has taken in the Irish War of Independence, the Black and Tan era, the Irish Civil War, the Second World War, the assignation of John F Kennedy and much more.
They, remarkably, all took place in the first half century of his life. The world has changed much since then too. “In 1969, we sat together and watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon,” son Fergal recounted at his party.
With 24 grand children and 18 great grand children at St Peter’s last week to celebrate Kevin’s great landmark, Fergal was quick to point out that if the youngsters wanted to see ‘cool’, they should look no further than centurion Kevin.
Kevin’s children took time to pay tribute to all of the people who have been generous to the family and their father in particular, including neighbours, particularly Tess Rowe, and staff at St Peter’s in Castlebellingham for their care, professionalism and friendship.
According to his children, Kevin always was and continues to be a man of many proverbs. One of his favourites, as recited by Fergal at last week’s party, is ‘If you have to say something let it be like an ass’s gallop – short and sweet.’
Kevin’s life has been far from short, but altogether sweet. He has thought positively, enjoyed his children and enjoyed his life. In doing so, he has become the first centurion in the McGeough family.