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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Come on Eileen!

Feature from today's Irish Examiner
Two best friends head to a music festival, camp out for the weekend, and get up to all sorts of mad adventures. That will be the blueprint for many a festival-goer at Oxegen this weekend, but what happens when said best friends are two grandmothers looking to recapture some of that old-time rock and roll?

Kerry women Eileen McGillycuddy (70) and Eileen Murphy (65) will give TV viewers the answer to that question tomorrow night on the RTE 1 series One Thing To Do Before You Die.

The popular series is all about older people stepping outside their comfort zone to experience things that they’ve always wanted to do. Last summer, the two Eileens, who hail from Kilorglin, fulfilled a lifelong ambition to rock out when they travelled to the Electric Picnic music festival in Stradbally, Co Meath – and the TV cameras were there to capture all of their hijinks.

Eileen McGillycuddy explains that the adventure started when the other Eileen’s daughter entered her mum’s name into a competition for tickets to the festival on The Ray Foley Show on Today FM.

“Ray Foley then called us both one day and asked us if we would camp at Electric Picnic for the three nights and take in all the excitement,” says the mother of 10, grandmother of 27, and great-grandmother of one.

“We said we’d give it a go. It was definitely a first for me. I was never even at a rock concert. I’m more a fan of Irish dancing. I have done the hornpipe since I was 3 or 4 year of age, and I also do the Kerry Set. There wasn’t an awful lot of that at Electric Picnic!”

The two intrepid grannies, who have known each other for 18 years, dove into the challenge and quickly became a huge hit amongst their fellow campers on the festival site.

“We had lovely neighbours around us who put up the tent for us and advised us on what to do,” Eileen recalls. “One young lad offered to make us breakfast on our first morning there, so we got tea and burnt toast delivered to us!

“I have been camping with my family for many years so it was nothing new to me. But the cold at night was the worst thing this time. I’d normally bring a big duvet camping, but I just had a sleeping bag which wasn’t enough really.

“The mud wasn’t that bad either. I had a big pair of heavy boots on me, and there were steel paths all over the site so you could avoid a lot of it.”

Eileen admits they were both a bit nervous about the reception they would receive from the youngsters at the festival, but they found that their rocking grannies reputations had preceded them.

“No matter where we went we were recognised,” Eileen laughs. “The young people made it for us. They kept coming up to kiss us and give us hugs. One girl told me, ‘I wish my mother was like you’. They never made us outcasts or anything like that. We were just one of them.”

Having being made feel right at home, the two Eileens could concentrate on having fun. “We did reflexology and went up on the big wheel, and I even attended a Mock Wedding,” Eileen reveals.
“There was a big inflatable church, and this fellow over from England was getting married. He asked me to partake so I was a bridesmaid and was dressed up for it and everything.”

Eileen bursts out laughing when I ask if she or her pal had any festival romance themselves. “We’re not interested in getting a partner again, no way!” she replies. “But Eileen’s niece Elaine was with us as our chaperone so we tried to find someone for her. I think she had fun.”

So what was the highlight of the festival for Eileen – musical or otherwise? “The most enjoyable band was the Beastie Boys,” she laughs. “Their music was a lot of fun and again the young people made it for us.

“Meeting Diarmaid Gavin was something else. The bandstand he had made was oval shaped, with all sorts of colours over it, and it was magnificent.

“The evening time was beautiful too, just sitting outside, with all the music going on around us, eating burgers, and drinking a glass or two of beer. We just met so many lovely people and we were treated like queens. We would love to do it all again!”

Since their festival experience last year, the two ladies’ appetite for adventure hasn’t waned in the slightest. “Both of us are used to going away and travelling so it wasn’t a bother to us,” Eileen explains.

“We go every place we get a chance. We were in Tunisia a little time ago, and I’m just back from London. I’m also going to America in September.

“My nephew is getting married in Staten Island and I have two brothers and two sisters over there too so I have loads of family to visit.

“Eileen and I love travelling – this is our time. We’re going to enjoy the years we have.”
So having accomplished one of her dreams, is there anything else Eileen would like to do before she dies? “I’d love to visit the Valley of the Kings in Egypt,” she answers. “I’ve always wanted to do that.

“Both of us would be open to most things within reason. Eileen has gone gliding before, though I couldn’t do it. But we’d be up for anything if it was put to us!”

For now, the two pals can just sit back and bask in their fame. “Eileen was in Wexford at a wedding last weekend, and when she walked into the church, everyone clapped,” Eileen laughs.
“They all recognised her. I’m a bit wary about seeing the show tomorrow night because I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened. But I think we behaved ourselves!”
*One Thing To Do Before You Die, RTE 1, tomorrow, 7pm

1 comment:

Ciara said...


Granny Ents :)