RETIRED Council employee and popular community man Michael Hayes got the surprise of his life when a cavalcade drove passed his door to mark his 80th birthday.
With pubs, restaurants and hotels currently closed due to Covid-19, many milestone birthdays and family occasions have been postponed.
The Hayes family in Clonakilty faced the same dilemma, wondering how to celebrate their dad’s 80th last Tuesday.
Knowing him to be a man of simple pleasures, Michael’s adult children, Paul, Kevin, Deirdre and Marie arranged the drive-by on his birthday, February 16th.
They put a call out on social media – safe in the knowledge that Michael wouldn’t see what they were plotting – and at 7pm on Tuesday evening last, a cavalcade of cars gathered at the Tawnies Crescent estate where Michael, his wife Vera, daughter Marie and grandson Aengus live.
The mayor of Clonakilty, his neighbour Padraig O’Reilly, accepted an invitation to attend and led the parade of cars, which had loudspeakers playing Happy Birthday. For about 30 minutes, cars – festooned with balloons and placards – snaked around the estate, beeping and calling out their good wishes.
Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said his dad was both surprised and deeply touched by the turnout. A drone operated by Ronan Archbold captured the spectacle from overhead, while photographer Martin Walsh snapped some lovely shots of the special occasion.
Michael’s grandson Jack appeared with a guitar and Michael duly obliged by giving an impromptu song, before family and neighbours sang Happy Birthday!
It was the final surprise that really took the biscuit: Michael was presented with a pint of Heineken, kindly donated by O’Donovan’s Hotel. It was his first pint since September 28th, and Michael relished every drop!
Michael and his family are immensely grateful to all who turned up on the night and sent messages. They are already planning another celebration at Michael’s ‘local’ later in the year, when it is safe to do so.