Swinging down to Joe Sweeney this afternoon, we wanted to find out, given that the man has spent his entire 87 years, three months and 22 days so far living down at the harbour, what were his fondest memories.
And being the smart man that he is, Joe immediately said that no.1 was marrying his good lady wife.
It was during his years working as a bus conductor that Joe met the love of his life, Ann Garvey, who was sweet sixteen and equally smitten. Joe was more than happy to punch Ann’s ticket, Greystones’ Sweeney clan having long known Bray’s Garvey clan. So, introductions were hardly necessary, and the young lovebirds were soon married, and raising a family of five strapping kids.
“I just knew Ann was the one for me,” says Joe now, as the couple get ready for the 60th wedding anniversary next year, “and I was right. We’re still together, still as happy as ever, and that’s definitely been the most wonderful part of my life…”
Such a long, happy union is hardly surprising, given that Joe Sweeney tends to do everything the right way, from his years building many of Greystones’ estates – all of them still standing, of course – to taking over The Anchor takeaway in 1976, and taking over the town as a councillor in the 1980s too.
He’s come a long way from his birth, on August 9th 1932, down at the long-goneNorth Beach cottages, the young Joe [pictured left in the line-up above] starting his working life at The Anchor when he was just 14. It’s been a good life, even if, as with us all, family tragedy struck, with the early loss of his brother, John, pictured above, with his pet donkey.
“Such is life,” says Joe. “It’s devastating, to lose a family member like that, long before their time, but you have to deal with it, accept it, and move on. Miss John still, of course…”
Today, with his youngest, Siobhan, taking over the day-to-day running of that legendary harbour chipper, Joe is in happy semi-retirement, lending a hand most days, just as his grandchildren get involved too.
“I’m very lucky in that this is very much a family business,” says Joe, “and that means we all pull together whenever that extra push is needed. It means that the place kind of runs itself, because it’s a second home, and second nature, to us all. That’s a wonderful way to work, with those that you love and trust…”
Having spoken to Joe about his take on family, fishing and fate back in November 2015 and again in May 2016, we reckon a catch-up with the unofficial Mayor of Greystones was long overdue…
Plenty more Joe Sweeney shenanigans right about here.