At 100, Mayo's Katty Delaney proves she’s certainly got the ‘write’ stuff
A MAYO Abbey woman - as she approached the milestone of her 100th birthday - has written not one but two memoirs about her busy and productive life.
Katty (Catherine) Delaney, who has given more than 80 years of service to the Catholic Church as a sacristan/housekeeper, became a centenarian this week.
Relatives and close friends joined her for a special Mass in the Church of our Lady Queen of Peace & St. Gerald.
The Mass was followed by a small (Covid restricted) party in the nearby community centre.
Apart from Katty herself, pride of place at the intimate gathering was given to her two books, compiled during the Covid lockdown, ‘Priests in Mayo Abbey in my time’ and ‘My century in Mayo Abbey.’
Both publications have been very well received and are regarded as having added significantly to the social history lore of the central Mayo area already available.
There are marvellous stories of bygone days in both, tales that will intrigue and provoke laughter.
One of the many tasks Katty had to perform during her days as a cleric’s housekeeper included milking cows, saving hay, and growing vegetables.
She even looked after a Suffolk ram which won many show-day ribbons for the late Canon Heaney, parish priest of Mayo Abbey in the 1950s.
Katty served Mass for Canon Heaney in Latin Mass times. As a result, the Canon was summoned before Archbishop Walsh in Tuam as it was against the rules of the Catholic Church at the time for girls to serve Mass.
The wily Canon put the issue to bed when he informed the archbishop that Katty had been serving Mass for his (archbishop’s) secretary Fr. Geraghty in Mayo Abbey long before Canon Heaney was appointed to the area.
Local priest Fr. Austin Fergus paid tribute to Katty in the local parish newsletter: “You have served the parish of Mayo Abbey very generously over the past 80 years in your work as sacristan and carer for the church.”
Quite unusually for someone of such advanced years, Katty took advantage of lockdown to produce two books – ‘Priests in Mayo Abbey in my time’ and ‘My century in Mayo Abbey’.
A smiling and relaxed Katty spoke to The Connaught Telegraph about her life and times.
“Did you ever think you’d reach 100?” was one of my first questions.
“No, I did not,” she replied, smiling. “I’m just taking it as it comes.”
A great fan of all sports (except rugby) Katty also follows the exploits of the Mayo senior football team.
When I asked did she believe in ‘the curse’ as an explanation for Mayo not winning an All-Ireland since 1951, she replied: “I shouldn’t, I suppose, but I do.”
Katty, a believer in the value of simple food as a means of maintaining good health, never smoked and never in her time entered through the doorway of a dance hall.
Asked why she never went to a dance, she replied: “It’s just that I didn’t go. I never bothered.”
Longevity may well be in Katty’s genes for her grandfather, Walter Hughes, was 103 when he died in 1939.
In her just published memoirs, Katty, hailed by Fr. Fergus as ‘an extraordinarily devoted servant of the Church down through the decades’, wrote: “There have been big changes in Mayo Abbey too in the course of my lifetime.
“Everyone is well educated, the people have plenty to eat, they live in comfortable houses and can communicate with their friends at home and abroad simply by taking up a smart-phone.”