Like most of us, come the end of December, Joe Sweeney will be more than happy to kick 2020 up the arse and out the door.
It’s been a hell of a year for many, but, for the original of the Greystones species, it’s been particularly tough.
Still, through all the pain and the heartbreak, through the family illnesses and tragedies, and the handing over of his beloved chipper, somehow, the 88-year-old man standing in front of us this afternoon looks as dapper, daring and devilish as always.
We reckon this fecker must have a poitín still out back somewhere. Hidden behind the Fountain of Youth.
Joe Sweeney was born on Tuesday, August 9th 1932, right down at the harbour, in Arch Villas, beside the gone but not forgotten North Beach cottages. And he’s remained just a stone’s throw from his birthplace ever since.
Over the past 88 years, the man has weaved his way into the very fabric of Greystones, from his early days delivering papers to the years building homes all over town, fighting the good fight as a local councillor and, of course, standing tall at the helm of arguably Wicklow’s most famous chipper.
“I’ve always believed in the simple rule that if you can help someone in need, help them,” he says now. “You may not always be able to solve every problem, but you should always try. It’s the secret to a long and happy life – making sure everyone around you is happy first…”
Today, 13 years after his official retirement age, Joe Sweeney is finally putting his feet up. He’s got the afternoon horse racing on the telly, a comfy chair pulled up to the fireplace, and his favourite tipple by his side.
Which sounds like pretty much the perfect time to surprise Joe Sweeney with our Greystones Person Of The Year 2020 award.
Delighted, if a little stunned, Joe insisted that we don’t make too much of a fuss about him. As if we needed to.
Suffice to say, every man, woman and dog knows that Greystones wouldn’t be half the town it is today without this man. And we’d all be half the size.
Now, go jump back through our archives to find out just how Joe Sweeney got all the way from there to here.
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