Fond memories of fantastic neighbours in close-knit Killeigh

As part of its efforts to highlight the need for a new community centre on the site of the old Macra Hall in Killeigh, the development committee has been putting together profiles of local people. Goretti Egan is the latest person to be featured


"I came from Killoneen, Daingean, County Offaly. My mother was Maureen Gorman, and my father was Tom Christle. They got married and had six children; Josie, myself, Kathleen, the late Michael (who died tragically in Australia in 1988), Jeanette, and Maureen.

In the same year that Michael died, I had a bad stroke which affected my mobility and cognitive function. Thankfully I recovered, with the support of family and friends, and was left with a slight disability. I also must thank the great staff of the Irish Wheelchair Association in Ballinagar, where I attend.

My mother and father worked very hard raising all of us. We had a small farm of six cows and had our own milk and butter. I remember my mother churning the butter. We also had hens and used to collect the eggs.

We grew our own vegetables, potatoes and cabbage. As kids we worked hard picking potatoes, and my mother tinned beet. She was a great cook and was well-known for her brown bread recipe - unfortunately the recipe was not shared with any of the family! I remember her so well selling fresh brown bread and scones around the Daingean area.

My mother also taught as a substitute teacher in Killeigh school, both the old and new school buildings, when required. We also kept greyhounds and were fortunate to have a greyhound called Honeypot Lady who was probably the most prominent, winning a big prize which prompted a huge celebration afterwards.

I went to school in Daingean and Esker, and we had a long cycle to get to school. Discipline was much stricter back then. I went to a dance on Easter Sunday and met this red curly-haired man named Tom Egan. We hit it off very well. When we were 'going out' we travelled to dances in the Harriers and the Central ballroom and to the pictures and out for meals in Tullamore.

Tom and I got married on March 31, 1975, and moved to Lockclose, Killeigh. Tom had come to Killeigh when he was 13. My first introduction was to the Conroy family, Liam and Annie, recently deceased. They were great neighbours.

We were very proud when our only daughter, Martina, was born a year later. I love Killeigh and where I live now in Lockclose. It has a real community spirit, and all the neighbours are wonderful.

This was especially evident when my late husband Tom was left with paralysis from the waist down arising from a sudden-onset back injury. Following months of rehabilitation in the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dublin (a phenomenal hospital), the community arranged for purchase of a mobility scooter for Tom.

This was presented by the then-owners of the pub, Matt and Kathleen Doyle. This was also the venue for my 60th birthday, and my late husband's 70th. Those are lovely memories to have. The pub is now owned by Carol and Willie Grennan. We are lucky to have this local amenity available to us.

Tom worked in Cappincur Joinery, Kilroy's, High Street, and with local farmer John Kearney. He once relayed a story about ringing a bull and how he avoided being injured by climbing over a gate. He would have been well-known from his time in Kilroy's putting up television aerials. He always had a story to tell about any area he had visited, and was good at fixing lawnmowers, bicycles and chainsaws.

When we moved to Killeigh he was involved in the building of the Macra Hall, and the Killeigh group water scheme. He also was actively involved with the cemetery committee prior to onset of his disability.

Killeigh sports was an event we all looked forward to and it drew in crowds from the locality. The wheel of fortune was very popular, with everyone watching the spinning of the wheel in anticipation of your ticket being drawn and collecting a prize.

In the earlier years there would be dances held in the Macra Hall afterwards. Great times. There were also the GAA fundraising auctions which we supported. I loved to attend the matches in the local GAA field, and the rivalry of Daingean and Killeigh, and remember the late Mick O’Rourke who did umpire at the matches in Killeigh.

In the early days of telephones Mick and his wife Ann, who were neighbours at the time, were very generous in allowing us to use their phone to contact relatives.

The post office was the centre of all social networking where you could catch up on all the local goings-on in the village. Joseph and the late Brigid Plunkett did a wonderful job running it and when it closed it marked a great loss to the local community. They were true ambassadors for Killeigh village.

In these times we have the local town link, which connects between Portlaoise and Tullamore, and facilitates transportation to and from the local town. The local shop (Gorman's) has kept us all in supply of essential items during Covid and are to be commended for their hard work. I also have a local hairdresser, Clare Langton, who calls to my house to do my hair. Sure, where would you get it?!

We attended the senior citizen parties in Tullamore and it would be wonderful if this could be held locally. A local community hall would be a wonderful resource to the area of Killeigh, and would enable social networking among the community.

I commend the work of the local committee and look forward with the community of Killeigh to the renovation of the hall and participating in social gatherings in the future. I wish the committee all the best with their latest fundraiser, which is a raffle with a prize of a new three-bedroom house in Enfield valued at €355,000."