At the 90th birthday bash for twins Kathy Fahy and Tom Cuffe, (standing from left) Stephen McGrath, Joe Murphy, Jason Nugent, Megan Pendred, Paul Gibson-Brabazon, Netta Murphy, Frank Brady, Anna Pendred, Tracy and Olivia Cuffe, Jacqueline and Paul Fahy, Nancy, Esther, Yvonne and Adah Cuffe, Una Ryan, Jacqueline Cuffe and Fr Oliver Devine; seated, Barry and Katie Cuffe, Susan Carroll, Kathy Fahy, Thomas Cuffe Junior, Tom, Brendan and Breda Cuffe, Anne Kelly and Jodie Glynn; (front) Kathleen Pendred, JP McGrath, Eliza Cuffe, and Sarah, Tommy and Bryan McGrath.

Twins celebrate 90th birthday

Twins Kathy Fahy and Tom Cuffe celebrated their 90th birthday with their families in the house in which they were born at Newtown, Ballymore, on Wednesday December 13. Very Rev Oliver Devine celebrated Mass in the house, after which refreshments were served and reminiscences were shared.

Kathy is the older of the two, by 15 minutes. Their mother Katie Cuffe, née Moran, did not know she was expecting twins. The local midwife Mrs Percival was in attendance and after Kathleen was born, she realised there was another on the way. Dr Grimley, who lived next door, was called and Tom came into the world.

A neighbour Kitty Lynam, who was on hand to help, had to hold baby Tom out the window for him to get his breath.

"My father (Tom Cuffe Senior) and grandfather (Jack Cuffe) were gone with turkeys to a turkey market in Streamstown that day. Turkeys were three ha’pence a pound and when they came home, we were born," Tom said.

Kathleen and Tom already had four older siblings – Jack, Bill, Maureen and two-year-old Martin, who was running around the kitchen during the excitement. Katie and Tom Snr went on to have three more children – Brendan, Kevin and Peggy. Only the twins and Brendan and Peggy are still living.

"I sleep in the room I was born in," Tom declared proudly. He attributes his long life to "hard work and good living" and of course, to being cared for like a king by his wife Nancy.

Tom and Kathy went to school in Ballymore, but Tom moved to Forgney NS when he was 10 "because the master beat the lard out of me", he explained. Kathy went on to the Convent of Mercy Secondary School and Tom to the tech in Ballymahon.

After school, Tom worked around home with Mike Maloney, Paddy Conlon, Jess Russell and other farmers. Aged 17, he and his first cousin Joe Moran went to England. "We were in England during the Coronation of the Queen; I worked in London airport," Tom recalled.

Subsequently, he joined his brother Jack in Wales, where he trained as a plasterer and learned to play cricket. When he came home from Wales, Tom met Nancy and they both headed off to London, where they were married.

The couple came home to Newtown in the early 1960s and Tom worked on the buildings until he set up his own construction company, Tom Cuffe and Sons, specialising in building and renovating filling stations around the country.

Kathy also moved to London, where she worked as a legal secretary. There she met John Fahy from Caherrnahoon, County Galway, in an Irish Club, and they were married. She helped John, now deceased, run his construction company, which did work all around the city for Greater London Council. They returned to Ireland in the 1980s, first to Mucknagh, on the shores of Lough Ree, and later to Moate.

Kathy and John had three children – John who lives in Kent, Paul, Crookedwood, and Jacqueline, Moate. Kathy has six grandchildren – Amy and Dominic, Donal and Aoife, and Isabel and Ella, and two great grandchildren, Elsie and Mabel.

Tom and Nancy had four children – Kathleen Pendred, Mearescourt, Jacqueline Cuffe, Ballymore, the late Noel, whose death in 2020 was a tragic blow to the family and community, and Barry, who lives in Ballymore. They have eight grandchildren – Megan, Sarah, Anna and Harry, Jodie, Adah, Thomas and Katie, and three great grandchildren – Bryan, JP and Tommy.