Dinnertime in the Kelly household was always an epic affair, but never more so than when all 19 siblings gathered to celebrate their mother Nora’s 90th birthday.

The 13 sisters and six brothers returned to the family home at Ardaneanig, Co Kerry, to mark Nora’s special day in the house where they all grew up and where Nora still lives independently, though with youngest son Lawrence keeping an eye from next door.

Then it was off to Killarney for dinner, where Nora was joined by 50 of her 58 grandchildren and many of her 16 great-grandchildren.

All bar one of the siblings, UK-based Bernadette, live in Ireland but even so, getting everyone together is a feat.

“There’s always something on that someone can’t get out of so it’s been four or five years since we all met up,” said Seamus Kelly, or ‘number 14’.

With the oldest, Eamon, in his mid-60s and youngest, Laura, in her mid-40s, there was a new arrival every year but somehow, Nora and her husband John, who died in 2003, managed to keep order.

“We had a small farm and grew everything ourselves so there was always a job to be done. That kept us out of mischief,” said Seamus.

Despite rarely having a moment to herself, Nora wasn’t one to put her feet up as the children got older but got heavily involved in the Irish Kidney Association and the Kerry Parents and Friends Association.

“She was always involved in the community and thankfully she’s still in great form and enjoying life,” said Seamus. “We knew no different growing up but looking at my own family, I don’t know how she did it. I have three and I think that’s a crowd!”


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