By Jimmy Rhatigan, Reporter Editor
Pics: Donal Foley
LIKE MANY a romance of yesteryear, it was at the old Mayfair Ballroom in Kilkenny, a neighbour of the then Smithwick’s Brewery, that love blossomed for a local couple.
Jimmy Rhatigan from St Fiacre’s Place, Kilkenny City and Judy Keogh from Raheen, Dunnamaggin danced together at what later became known as our Ballroom of Romance.
Neither can remember exactly what it was that sparked the fuse of love but, as with many stories of romance and in the most plausible of fairytales, they are living happily ever after.
That was back in what Judy terms the Summer of Love in 1964. In their own words, Judy and Jimmy were courting for a while.
In fact they became neighbours. Judy was on the staff of Francis McGuinness’s Supermarket, our city’s first supermarket and Jimmy enjoyed a pint next door, in the then very popular Tommy Muphy’s or T’s Bar, whatever you’re having yourself.
Jimmy can’t remember going down on one knee but he proposed to Judy at Christmas 1966 and the couple were wed in St Mary’s Cathedral on February 3, 1968.
Fifty years to the day last Saturday, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner evening and cabaret for circa 100 extended family members and friends in the Village Club, home of James Stephens GAA Club of which Jimmy is a lifetime supporter.
As a dedicated troubadour, Jimmy Rhatigan of Cleere’s Theatre Monday night fame delivered a great night of entertainment, music, song and dance and a good dollop of comedy.
Watergate Theatre heroes, Joe Murray and Bobby McDonald were brilliant as they played with words in a super bar counter-like chat.
Poet Gerry Moran got to the bottom of matters when he recited a great piece about the life of a bar stool. Kerryman, Pat O’Brien’s theme was playwright, John B. Keane.
Nicky Lawlor, accompanied by his wife Mary, were wonderful warblers while Tullaroan Seanachai, Jim Maher again showed why he would sit comfortably on a professional stage.
Music was by Mick Walsh and his top class trad-style band. Brothers, Jimmy and John Rhatigan displayed their natural singing talents.
The Kehoe, Rhatigan wedding ceremony was performed by their cousin, Fr Eamon Rhatigan who was then Dean of Ecclesiastical Studies at St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny.
What was then called a wedding breakfast was held in the Metropole Hotel on the corner of James’s Street and High Street and a honeymoon, ‘for four or five days’, was spent at Wynn’s hotel, Abbey Street, Dublin.
The newly weds lived at St Fiacre’s Place with Jimmy’s mother, Mai, a wonderfully warm and caring woman, for two years before setting up home at Riverside Drive, Bishop’s Meadows, Kilkenny City which is still the family home 47 years later.
Family includes sons, David, Hugh, Niall and daughter Ann Marie.
That later became sons, daughters-in-law and son-in-law with eight grandchildren in tow. Ann Marie has four boys; David two girls and Niall two girls.
Ann Marie and her husband Ger Henderson’s boys are Ben, Tom, Seán and Ger. David and his wife Trish Brett’s daughters are Rebecca and Rachel, while Niall and his wife, Sinead Holohan’s girls are Sarah and Aoife.
The party was extra special for grand-daughter, Rachel Rhatigan who was celebrating her 11th birthday.
Jimmy’s brother, Tommy who died last year was remembered with a fond round of applause.
Our chat came to an abrupt end when Jimmy had to dash to do a school run, to pick up a grand-daughter from class.
He was in great form, one of the real joys of being a granddad.