A message across the miles for my granny Anna Kelly

Mrs Anna Kelly last November surprised her granddaughter Laura McCool on her 40th birthday by delivering a special message via the Derry Journal as the family couldn’t travel to be with her as a result of COVID restrictions. Now Laura has got in touch with the Journal to organise her own surprise message and to wish her grandmother a happy 92nd Birthday all the way from the Alicante region of Spain. Mrs Kelly will turn 92 on Thursday.

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 4:47 pm

Well, can you imagine my surprise when back in November my granny enlisted the help of the Derry journal to send me a wonderful 40th birthday message! It seems only fitting now her birthday is upon us, that I return the gesture. So here we are once more, this time to wish my wonderful, beautiful wee granny a fantastic 92nd birthday!!! (Applause applause, deafening applause!)

Now, if you don’t know Anna Kelly, you would be forgiven for imagining a frail little old lady in her dressing gown, swallowed up by an armchair and whose marbles left her a long time ago? Well not this 92 year old! Isn’t that right granny?! You are always impeccably dressed, mostly in lilac, creams or pinks with a brooch on and your hair is always done. You are elegant, quick witted and always checking in on us all and sending love. You have your beautiful home that holds more memories for us all as a family than you could ever imagine! And it is always so wonderfully welcoming, stocked with teabags and treats, (as every good granny’s house should be!) Unlike many people of half your age, you can use an iPad and I look forward to the morning video messages on the family chat that you always sign off with your weather announcement with “bye now, god bless”.

You are who we turn to when the car is getting its MOT, or we have a test or are unwell so you can light a candle. In fact you light candles at a frequency for us all that should be quite concerning for the local fire brigade!

Laura with her grandmother in times gone by.

Granny, you really are quite amazing and being able to communicate with you via WhatsApp and viber during this past year has been an absolute blessing, not to mention a real opportunity to see the fun and silly part of your personality shine through, especially on video calls. You are a little wild and a lot of witty and it has been a joy to see. We laugh a lot online together, I guess we are all a little nuts, hence the reason I refer to us as the nuthouse family!

With five daughters, I don’t know how you made it to 50 never mind 92 with all the shenanigans they put you through. Remember all the times they filled your bed with frogs? Or when Maria pretended she had gone to Mass but actually hid in a cupboard? When they taunted my mammy and said she wouldn’t fit in the baby’s high chair, so she got in it, got stuck and had to be cut out of it! Haha, why you don’t have more wrinkles I’ll never know!

At your 91st birthday when we all last celebrated together you were still awake with us all at 4am and promptly told everyone ‘GET TO YOUR BEDS’ so I guess you can still handle your five unruly daughters and the rest of us too! You are and always will be, the boss!

This is the first year since you were in your 80s that we will not be able to celebrate as a family. We normally travel from around the world for your birthday and I hope you know how much we all look forward to it every January. In 2020 we all became so much closer and like many people through this pandemic, realised the importance of family and friends and human connection, not to mention the importance of good health.

Anna Kelly with her five daughters, from left to right: Catherine, Paula, Maria, Christine and Anita.

You have sadly outlived your twin brother Tony and my grandfather Frank (who passed many decades ago) and I have no doubt they would both be very proud of the woman you are and the family you have raised. I am sure they will both be on your mind and in your heart today as they are in ours. I actually only found out recently that your twin Tony (Anthony) was awarded an OBE for his service to the community, Which got me thinking and brings me to this.... this year I wanted to do something very personal and special for you granny that could also impact the community, even the country!

So inspired by you and the family I am launching on January 28th (your actual birthday) my handmade clay business called The Littlest Acorn. And of course our first collection is dedicated to you. The ARDGLEN collection. When people purchase something, not only will they be receiving a one-off handmade item, but a percentage of every sale will be donated towards tree planting/reforestation in Ireland.

In your message to me in the Journal, you said: ‘I wish you all the love and joy and happiness, you deserve it, and never forget your roots,’ so granny, this collection is for you, because YOU ARE MY ROOTS,

We all love you very much and are so grateful for your presence in our lives. I hope for your next birthday I can tell you that were able to plant a whole damn forest because of you! What a legacy!

'My grandmother Anna and her husband Frank performing in a play that written by my great grandfather James McGeehan wrote. He was a former Derry City Councillor who also wrote and produced plays.'

God help Derry when we are all able to meet again and celebrate! You may start lighting candles now because it’s gonna be one we will never forget! Until then, if anyone sees my granny around town, feel free to shout a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her from me! xx

Anna Kelly had sent special birthday message to her eldest granddaughter Laura McCool ahead of her 40th birthday. Laura's mother and aunts had been planning to visit her in Spain where she has lived for several years but they couldn't meet up because of travel restrictions in both countries.
Mrs Anna Kelly turns 92 on Thursday.