The community of Longford came together recently to host a surprise presentation in the Tally-ho in Longford town, in honour of two departing ‘blow-in’s.
The event was organised by the Tally-ho trad session group as a way to thank founding member Pat Finnerty and his wife, Margaret, for their dedication to both education and the county, after they departed for pastures new in Co Cork. Pat, who hails originally from Loughrea in Galway, first moved to the county over four decades ago after qualifying as a teacher.
One of the organisers of the presentation and trad group member, Sean Sweeney explained, “Pat got his first job teaching in Granard when he came out of college, while Margaret was a teacher in Ballymahon secondary school.”
Pat Finnerty added, “I spent my working life in Longford. I am 41 years in Longford. I started working as a primary school teacher in the hill in Granard in 1978.
“I went from Granard, then spent some time in Dromard and moved to Newtowncashel in 1996, where I was principal for 14 years.”
His wife, Limerick native Margaret, retired from her role as a teacher in Ballymahon secondary school over ten years ago.
Pat said, “I retired in 2010. Margaret retired a few years before me.”
Fast forward four decades, and after retiring from their roles as educators, the pair have now set off in search of a new life in Cork.
As Pat is a founding member of the Tallyho trad session group and known for his prowess with the pipes and whistle, the group - who were due to play in the Tallyho on the night itself - decided it was fitting to honour Pat and his wife.
“Pat was one of the founding members of the group. He played the pipes and the whistle,” Sean Sweeney explained.
“They were both very involved in the bridge club too.
“It wasn’t really a surprise, they knew there was something on as I told them to be at the Tallyho at a certain time, as we were having a little bit of a send-off for them.”
Pat added, “It wasn’t that I have done anything wild or wonderful, it is just my seat is going to be empty.
“I was there from the start at the Tallyho sessions. We just happened to be in the Tallyho one of the nights and passed the remark that it would be a nice place and suitable to a trad session.
“Not every pub is suitable, but it was nicely set up for it.”
On the night, the group presented Pat and Margaret with an honorary plaque, with their son Brian present to witness the occasion.
“We got a plaque made for them and presented it to them on the night. They really weren’t expecting it,” Sean said.
Pat admitted their whole presentation was ‘lovely’ and says he will miss the many friends he made in Longford down through the years.
Pat said, “It was really nice and there was a lovely presentation. A lot of musicians turned up.
“I am grateful for all of the friends I made and all of the fun we had. That was one thing, we always had great fun at that session.
“The session was always really enjoyable and great fun. It will be one of the things I miss most.”
Although now departed for pastures new, Pat conceded that it won’t be the last Longford sees of him and says he will be ‘up and down’ if there is a sniff of a trad session.
“I will try and get up for a Tuesday night if there is music on. Go back to annoy them again,” he chuckled.