Cork couple celebrate 70 years of marriage

Tomorrow, January 24, Jimmy and Pat Skinner celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, writes CHRIS DUNNE
Cork couple celebrate 70 years of marriage

Jimmy and Pat Skinner, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, who are married 70 years.

JIMMY Skinner, as well as being a charmer, is a real diamond.

Speaking ahead of the 70th anniversary of his wedding to Pat on January 24, 2021, he said he didn’t want any gifts.

“I have the best present here with me that I ever got and that’s all I ever wanted”, said Jimmy, aged 98, who is from Mitchelstown.

According to Shakespeare, the course of true love never did run smooth and Covid, particularly lockdown, may have tested some relationships. But not in Jimmy and Pat’s case. Their undying devotion to each other is as clear as crystal.

“We are happy out here with each other,” says Jimmy.

Pat agrees.

“It is great to have him.”

Jimmy is blissfully happy with his life.

“She was my one and only,” he says.

The couple have seven children, Jimmy, Ann, Liam, Tricia, Finbarr and Clare. Kevin sadly passed away at three weeks old.

“It would be nice to see the family and have them around to the house for our 70th anniversary to have some cake, but that is not to be, due to the pandemic,” says Jimmy.

It’s not such a big deal when you are at home with your life-partner who is the love of your life.

“Pat and I have each other,” says Jimmy.

Jimmy and Pat Skinner, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork.
Jimmy and Pat Skinner, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork.

Jimmy was always Pat’s Prince Charming. And he was something else. “He’s my toy boy!” jokes Pat, who is the older of the two by five months.

It was a match made in colourful Clonakilty.

“I went to work in my boss’s brother’s new bakery in Clonakilty,” says Jimmy.

“Having worked in the bakery in Mitchesltown, the new man wanted someone with experience in the business and to help straighten it out starting off.”

The fateful move signalled the start of a fairy-tale love story destined to span over seven decades when the stars aligned perfectly for Jimmy and Pat.

“One day I was looking out the shop window onto Astna Square, watching the girls go by,” says Jimmy.

He set his sights on one of the girls who caught his eye.

“Pat stood out,” recalls Jimmy with a twinkle in his eye.

“I spotted this lovely girl with a short skirt who I noticed had lovely legs. She carried a camogie stick.”

Jimmy, already smitten, wasn’t all that observant.

“It was a hockey stick I was carrying!” Pat says, correcting her husband with a smile.

Jimmy made haste seeking out the lovely girl who had taken his fancy.

“I asked the secretary in the bakery, Kitty Houlihan, about her. She seemed to know about Pat.”

Jimmy didn’t hang about.

“I asked Kitty to arrange a date for me with her,” says Jimmy.

Kitty, delighted to take on the role-of match-maker, was happy to oblige.

“Pat’s family owned a butcher shop in town. They were big business people,” says Jimmy.

He was small-fry.

“I was just a green boy. I was a bit naive.”

But he was keen.

“I got all spruced up and made my way to Magner’s Butcher’s in Main Street.” Jimmy wanted to make an impression on the pretty girl who had impressed him.

“I was excited and I was really looking forward to meeting Pat.”

But there was no-show.

Did Pat give Jimmy a ‘fifty’?

“I waited for an hour outside the shop,” recalls Jimmy. “I was all dressed up,.

“Lots of people passing by looked me up and down, wondering what I was doing loitering outside the shop.”

Jimmy, intent on meeting Pat, was persistent.

“I knocked on the front door but no-one answered,” says Jimmy.

“After an hour; I just gave up.”

So there was no joy?

However, Jimmy, in his enthusiasm and flustered with the first flush of romance, had got his wires mixed up.

Kitty told him he should have gone to Hill House where the Magners lived. “The family didn’t live over the butcher’s shop at all!”

Jimmy, undaunted, and hell-bent on meeting the lovely Pat, braced himself to give it another go.

“I got ready for another date.”

Was Pat willing to give Jimmy a second chance, thinking she’d been stood up?

She had no choice.

“He was a charmer,” says Pat.

And she knew his intentions were good.

Jimmy charmed her immediately and the couple began ‘stepping out.’

Jimmy had a spring in his step.

“We got engaged in 1948,” he says happily.

There was never a stop to his gallop, even when he discovered his intended had very expensive taste.

“She picked up an engagement ring in Mickey Roches, Patrick Street, for 2,000 pounds!” says Jimmy.

That nearly stopped him dead in his tracks.

“I nearly dropped dead!” says Jimmy.

Pat reconsidered.

“She ended up costing me 200 pounds!”

Then Jimmy took his betrothed to meet his parents.

His mother knew a diamond when she saw one.

“My mother said ‘grab her while you can!’”

Jimmy and Pat Skinner on their wedding day.
Jimmy and Pat Skinner on their wedding day.

The happy couple got married on January 24 sharing their Big Day in St Patrick’s Church with Pat’s sister Eileen, who married Chris Kiely. The four love-birds went off on a jaunt to Dublin on their honeymoons.

Jimmy and Pat went to live happily in Mitchesltown. “My grandmother left me the family pub and grocery,” says Jimmy.

The love-birds feathered their nest with happiness and the blessings of beautiful children over the years. Did they ever row?

“Seldom,” says Pat.

“I always think in married life learning patience is a good thing.”

Jimmy chimes in.

“And if we ever did row, I could get round her.”

Jimmy, ever the charmer, cut a dash on the dance-floor.

“We loved dancing,” says Jimmy.

“We won’t be doing much dancing now!”

The couple had a lot in common from the get-go.

“Neither of us drank or smoked. We were very compatible. We were lucky. Life was simple then. There was plenty of work if you wanted it. There were no big expectations.”

The couple were lucky in love and lucky in life.

Their 70th anniversary was special because the couple, never apart, celebrated the occasion together, reminiscing over their charmed life.

Pat, the best gift Jimmy ever got, has the last word.

“I married my Prince Charming,” she says.

Jimmy and Pat Skinner, Mitchelstown, with three members of their family of six, Jim, Ann (standing) and Tricia. The photo was taken pre-Covid   
Jimmy and Pat Skinner, Mitchelstown, with three members of their family of six, Jim, Ann (standing) and Tricia. The photo was taken pre-Covid   

Tricia Skinner-Foley paid tribute to her parents on reaching the milestone.

“They have been wonderful parents to all their children and grandchildren.

“Seventy years married is a huge milestone which most of us could never dream of reaching but these two special people always were, and still are, very much the devoted loving couple they were in 1951.

“Due to current Covid regulations, unfortunately not all their children, extended family, friends and neighbours will be able to join them to celebrate with them — but we will all be thinking of them and celebrating in our own bubbles far and near.

“They are fabulous people. We love them dearly and wish them both a really happy 70th wedding anniversary.”

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