WHEN you have spent two decades creating your own labour of love, what could be better than dedicating it to the people you love?
ONE of the tunnels is named after Mike’s parents, Tom and Maureen Kelleher.
Maureen, nee Donovan, attended St Marie’s of the Isle and left at 16 to work with the Hanover Shoe Company.
She married Tom, who left Blarney Street CBS at 14 for a job with Lunhams bacon curing factory, where he worked until his retirement at 68. They had two children, Mike and Joe.
Mike says: “My mother ran a small shop for a while in Gillabbey Street, and was an early feminist, always referring to herself by her maiden name, Donovan.
“My one disagreement with her arose when, at 16, I decided to join the reserve defence force (the FCA) to have funds to tide me over the study years.
“She wanted ‘no soldiers or uniforms in her house ever’, but I joined up anyhow, although I imagine she was privately delighted when, at 22, on leaving for a job in Dublin, I told her I had formally resigned and signed a discharge.”
At Lunham’s, Mike’s father was a key driver of new processes such as cooked ham canning, and spam production for the UK market.
Mike’s-in-laws, Bill and Mai Cahill, also have a tunnel named after them
Born in Kilbrahan, Co. Kilkenny, Bill (left) went to UCC and was a fine hurler. He helped UCC to a Fitzgibbon Cup in 1947 and also that year played a key role as corner forward in Kilkenny’s All-Ireland final win over Jack Lynch’s Cork.
A foul on Bill in the dying moments earned the Cats a free to draw them level. He then made the final pass to Terry Leahy for the winning point.
Read more stories like this in the 2020 Holly Bough. In the shops now and available online at hollybough.ie