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Celebrating 100

October 7, 2019

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Peggy Hussey pictured with her husband Dermot and their children Tony, Frank, Nuala, Emer and Deirdre after they’d disembarked from an Air Lingus plane at Idlewild Airport in July 1961.

 

By Peter McDermott

You can’t really call Peggy Hussey part of the YouTube generation. She was born on Oct. 8, 1919, after all. But she gets a lot of her information from that online source. “Irish news. English news. Canadian news, French news,” her daughter Nuala Hussey reported. “She reads the Irish Times online.”

The former Margaret O’Riordan, who grew up at ”Lisduane,” Granagh, Co. Limerick, will be the story herself tomorrow, at least for her family, neighbors and friends, as all roads will lead to her apartment door in a building on Saunders Street in Rego Park, Queens, to celebrate her 100th birthday.

“She’s the sweetest mom,” her daughter added.

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Hussey made a little blip in the news when her New York City story began back in July 1961. The Irish Echo photographer Tom Matthews took a photo of her with her husband Dermot and their children Tony, Frank, Nuala, Emer and Deirdre after they disembarked from an Air Lingus plane at Idlewild Airport.

 

Peggy Hussey photographed with members of the 3rd and 4th generations of her family.

 

Dermot Hussey was headhunted the previous year for an important job in the United Nations. “They didn’t use that word then,” said his daughter. Whatever word or words they did use, he and his wife agreed to leave behind the lives they had at Calderwood Avenue, Drumcondra, in Dublin.  The Tralee, Co. Kerry, native Hussey had been a soldier in the Irish army during World War II (or the Emergency as it was known in neutral Ireland), qualified at college as an engineer and was employed by Con Smith, the Renault car dealership, and would now work in procurement for the UN Secretariat.

“He was one of the first Irish citizens to get a job with the Secretariat,” his daughter Emer Casey said.

During the early 1960s, which were exciting and perilous times in the world, the Hussey children studied at the international school with children from different countries. But when their father was posted to the Middle East by the UN, he liked the idea of at least some of his children being educated at home in Ireland. “I went with my sister Emer to Holy Child in Killiney [County Dublin],” Nuala Hussey recalled. She would live for many years in Dublin, and the connection was always kept up with her first cousins who own the farm in Limerick.

These days, however, all of Peggy Hussey’s children live in the New York area or in Canada. “She’s doing brilliantly. Her health is pretty good,” her daughter said. She puts that down at least partly to the diet which Nuala oversees herself. “No processed food. I do everything from scratch.”

Dermot Hussey, who died four days short of his 93rd birthday in 2011, loved good food, too, and was a beneficiary of his daughter’s cooking.

Nuala Hussey revealed two other things about her mother.  “She loves port and dark chocolate,” she said.

The open house planned for Tuesday on Saunders Street, then, should make for a great party.

 

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