A MAYO great-grandfather will be surrounded by at least 150 of his closest friends and family when he celebrates his 100th birthday in Leeds this weekend.
Patrick Ferguson, also known as ‘Pad’, ‘Fergie’ or ‘The Bull’, has been living in England since he was 17 years old, when he arrived with his father to work on the farms.
Among the guests expected for the party at the Leeds Irish Centre on Saturday, February 6 are some of Patrick’s 14 brothers and sisters, most of who spent their younger years in the northern city.
His birthday will also be marked by the awarding of The Centenarian Bounty on behalf of Irish President Michael D Higgins, which commemorates those who have reached 100 years of age.
Speaking to The Irish Post, great-granddaughter Georgia O’Rourke said that according to Patrick, the “key to old age is good genes and looking after your body, but that getting to 100 years of age is about being surrounded by people you love.”
Born on February 5, 1916 in Attymass, Co. Mayo, Pad’s first nickname was Podgeen. As the birth wasn’t registered until July 5, Pad has had two birthdays to mark over the years.
He moved from Ireland to England with his father when he was a teenager, travelling to different farms across the country for labouring work, including picking potatoes and beetroot.
Patrick continued to work as a labourer throughout his life, heading back to Ireland for a few years in between to live with elderly relatives.
He met his wife Margaret, or ‘Peg’, at a dance hall in Leeds despite living only a stone’s throw away from each other in Ireland.
They married in 1939 at the city’s St Ann’s Cathedral, established their home in Headingley and went on to have one daughter, Betty, three grandchildren, Carmel, Julian and Kieran and five great-grandchildren, Georgia, Olivia, Ciara, James and Edward.
Since Peg passed away in 2002 after 63 years of marriage, Patrick lives with Betty and Kieran in Morley.
The birthday celebrations this weekend will double as a family reunion, with 150-200 relatives expected to attend the party.