GAOTH Dobhair woman Annie (Winnie) O’Donnell, Knockastolar Bunbeg, is celebrating her 101st Birthday today.
She was born in Culacrick, Annagry on December 4 1921.
Her mother, Winnie (Neddie Shorcha Óg) Boyle was a native of Bun na mBeann, Annagry, while her father, Paddy O’Donnell (Paidí Johnnie Sheáin Óig), hailed from Culacrick, Annagry. Annie was the eldest of a family of seven children and her living siblings are John (Annagry), Sally (Dungloe) and Rosha (Cúl an Chnoic). Her other siblings, Bridget, Danny and Eddie are all deceased.
Annie attended Annagry school but left at the age of 13 to help her mother with the housework.
A few years later she started working as a maid with the Gorman family in Dungloe, before taking up the same position with the Houston family in Kingarrow near Fintown.
Annie subsequently worked as a maid with the Cunnanes, two local teachers in Falcarragh, where she stayed for two years.
Annie spent some years doing agricultural work in Scotland.
When the war ended in 1945 she was no longer restricted to farm work so she applied for a job as a maid in Newlands, suburb to the south of Glasgow where she spent around five years working for an unmarried brother and sister who owned a factory there.
Eoghan was also working in Scotland at this time and he and Annie married in Glasgow on March 1 1950.
Shortly after they married, Annie and Eoghan returned to Knockastolar, Bunbeg where they raised a family of five children – PJ, Connie, Úna, John and Éamonn. She has five grandchildren, Deirdre, Conall, Eoghan Colm and Feidhlim and three great-grandchildren, Tarlach, Ultán and Conor. Her husband, Eoghan died in September 2012 and sadly her eldest son, PJ, passed away suddenly in December 2017.
One of Annie’s great hobbies over the years was baking bread, a skill she acquired from her mother at an early age.
As regards baking Annie believes that things should be kept simple. She does not use weighing scales or measuring glasses and she sticks to the soup spoon and wooden spoon.
She says that she must have been good at baking because people always seemed to enjoy her bread.
She won first prize for her brown bread at Annagry Festival 30 years ago.
A few years ago she was invited to Ionad Naomh Pádraig in Dore to demonstrate her baking skills.
Annie has also had a life-long passion for gardening and she can still be seen pulling weeds in her garden during the summer months.
Annie has been attending the Gaoth Dobhair Day Centre at Derrybeg for many years now, where she has enjoyed meeting fellow senior citizens from the locality. She is also full of praise of the kind and beautiful staff there.
She is also has praised the voluntary staff at Ionad Naomh Pádraig at Dore where she has attended Christmas dinner and other events.
Annie’s memory is as sharp as a blade and despite her advanced years, she can still vividly recall events that happened during her youth and has a wealth of stories going back many decades.