Ned and Eileen Cusack, one of Ireland’s oldest married couples, mark their 73rd Valentine’s Day together

Feb 14, 2018

Ned and Eileen Cusack have no intention of buying expensive flowers or dining in a fancy restaurant but they could still teach the nation a thing or two about love and romance as they mark their 73rd Valentine’s Day as a married couple.

Had it not been for Hitler’s invasion of Poland in the autumn of 1939, one of Ireland’s oldest married couples would most likely have never met.

Ned – who will turn 99 in March – joined the Defence Forces in 1939 and within weeks the Emergency (the Irish government’s response to war breaking out) had been declared and he was fast-tracked into the officer classes.

“I was the cadet in the Curragh but when the war broke out we were all commissioned quickly and I ended up in the barracks in Galway.” The proud Cork man pauses for a beat before adding “against my best wishes” with a laugh.

There was only one place for young men and young women looking for a dance and maybe a bit of romance in Galway in the early 1940s and that was the Pavilion Ballroom in Salthill, a place universally referred to as the Hangar.

It was in the Hangar that Ned met Eileen, a “pure-bred Galwegian” two years his junior. She was living in the house in which she was born, next door to the Skeffington Arms Hotel in Eyre Square.

“I am the woman who puts up with this clown,” she says with a laugh as she takes over the story briefly. “I suppose I am glad he asked me to dance that night,” she says. “Mind you back then you’d be glad if anyone asked you to dance.”


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