Dungloe man, John McGlynn, celebrates his 101st birthday in the States with friends and family

The last surviving member of the Dungloe County Championship winning side of 1940 enjoys a great day

Dungloe-native , John McGlynn, celebrated his 101st birthday recently in the United States of America. 

This year, celebrations were different due to the current pandemic. 

However, the day was very much enjoyed by John his good wife, Bridie, 94 and their large family. 

The couple who have seven children, like many, have found that life has changed this year. However, they are being very much cared for by their children who bring their dinner to them at alternate times.

They are also blessed with having a great backyard where birds and small wild animals frequent.

Their nephew Oliver Ward, who resides in Letterkenny said their home is lovely and 'great for pensioners.'

"He is doing very well at 101," Oliver said. 

The secret to living a healthy and long life lies in the great food that John and Bridie share, Oliver feels. 

"They never buy pre-packed food. They always have a salad at mid-day and eat good hearty Irish meals," he said. 

Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher

John McGlynn has been close to the former politician Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher for many years - both have a lot in common - both being from Dungloe and having a great love of sport. 

Every year, Pat calls John on his birthday and they speak for some time. Last year, when John celebrated his 100th birthday, Mr Gallagher called him using Facetime on Facebook and they enjoyed a great catch-up. 

Central to American life

John performs grand marshall at the St Patrick’s day parade every year. This year, due to the pandemic, things didn't run as normal. Over the years, the Dungloe band have visited the area on St Patrick's day. John and Bridie have never missed a Mary of Dungloe festival and always choose the Mary of Dungloe for Bayonne.

Takes things in his stride 

Every evening, John goes out and has a cigar and a glass of wine and continues to be as healthy as he always has been. 

John McGlynn always led a healthy and sporting life, testament to this, is the fact, he is the last surviving member of the Dungloe County Championship winning side of 1940.

John immigrated to America in 1951 from Dungloe and is a longtime residence of Bayonne, New Jersey. Mr McGlynn who lives in the township of Brick,  served as President of the Donegal Association, a past President of its Grand American League and a prominent member of the Ireland 32 club.
John was also named Irishman of the Year in 1986 and in 2014 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame for achievements in Gaelic Football.

Last survivor of all-conquering Dungloe '40 team

One of John McGlynn's favourite memories is the day that Dungloe played a Ballyshannon side and beat them 3-8 to 1-3 to take Donegal's top title, eight decades ago. 
John McGlynn was a prominent player on that team and he remembers the other key players as, C Campbell, J McGlynn, M McGonigle, P McPaul, J Breslin, J McGarvey, D McGarvey, S Gallagher, H McGarvey, P Sweeney, J O'Brien, J Mulhern, W Sweeney, E Woods and N Sweeney.
John recalls the game being very different back then compared to today.
He remembers the lack of proper playing and changing facilities and so much of the work done - especially managing teams - was on a voluntary basis. The Tuberkeen-man's brother Pa Waldrip was also very active within the GAA back then.
John has many fond memories of playing Gaelic in the early days.

Early days
On one occasion, the Dungloe team was late for a game against St Eunans in Letterkenny.
The players had to disembark from their cars, on the side of a country road and get togged out, much to their amusement.
John loved playing GAA with Dungloe and it was a big part of his life.
He was part of a strong Dungloe side that enjoyed much success at club level at various age-groups.
John remembers how by 1948, the Dungloe side was particularly strong, made up of excellent players.
He felt the team could have really progressed but disappointingly, that just didn't happen - the team failing to fulfill great potential.
The Dungloe-team reflected the difficult times that were being experienced by the people of Donegal at the time.
Work was scarce and many of the team had to leave to seek employment in England.
Whilst in England many of the players joined teams across different parts of England. They were a welcome addition to their new clubs, both on and off the field.
The Rosses men were regarded with respect, they worked hard both on and off the pitch.
Many of them missed home and they would often write to their families and attended dances where other Irish and Donegal people would be in attendance.
The moment they savoured the most, at that time, was boarding the boat to come back to their home in the Rosses.
The men always returned home to take to the field for Dungloe when the opportunity arose.
Whilst John was focused on playing Gaelic football, his sister Hannah was proving a formidable force on the Dungloe camogie team.

Hall of fame
In 2014, John was inducted into the Dungloe GAA Hall of Fame at a well-attended function in the Bayview in Dungloe.
Many former and current GAA stars were in attendance at the function, among them Declan Bonner, the Donegal Senior team manager and both Eamon McGee and Neil McGee from Gaoth Dobhair.

Memories of love, life, emigration in a very different time

Born in Scotland on July 31, 1919, John McGlynn came to live in Dungloe in 1923 at the tender age of four.
Times were very different then and money and employment were scarce across the region.
Many people from west Donegal had to leave to find work in England, Scotland, the United States of America, and in many cases, further afield.
John acquired his first job as a part-time postman delivering letters and parcels to local homes.
At that time, the mode of travel for the postman was by bike.
John was athletic and he enjoyed the sporting element of his employment.
The Tuberkeen man cycled from Brockagh to Croveigh which encompasses a fifeen-mile round trip.
He made good friends during his journeys and was mannerly and friendly to those whom he met.
Turf-cutting and fishing were the two main modes of employment in west Donegal at the turn of the twentieth century.

Seasonal work
Many men fished the seas during the season and, on many occasions, the fish that was caught was cooked and enjoyed at dinner time by families in homes across west Donegal.
Turf-cutting ensured that the hearth would heat the home during cold winters, as well as cook food and dry clothes that hung over the wide-mouthed fireplace.
In 1940, John emigrated to London with many of his team-mates from the Dungloe GAA club. It was an unwelcome decision but a necessary move for many young men and women of that time.
For John emigration did reap great benefits and in 1951 he met the love of his life, Bridie, a trainee nurse, in the bustling capital city of England.

Moved
John's sisters Hannah Boland and Mae O'Donnell moved to the US and their move inspired John to join them and seek his fortune there.
Shortly after, he was delighted to be joined by Bridie and the two were reunited after a short period apart.
They married and settled in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1952 and became the proud parents of seven wonderful and loving children.
The family moved a lot during their early days in the US and they still find it ironic that every house they ever lived in was house number 7 on the street - without a doubt the number has certainly proved very lucky for the McGlynn family.
John and Bride now enjoy a peaceful life in the US.
John has been an integral and valued part of his community over the years.
These days, John remains very active and he and Bridie are very much enjoying their golden years. They spend time in their expansive garden and enjoy the company of their friends and growing family.

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