COMBERMERE – On March 13, there was a gathering at Madonna House to celebrate Patricia McConville’s 97th birthday almost a century after she was born on a western tip of Connacht, in Murrisk, County Mayo in 1921. “It was a time of turmoil in Ireland. It was just before Ireland became independent from England,” McConville said. In the first few days of her life, McConville had a lucky escape. The tradition at that time was to baptize babies quickly. Four days after her birth she was being taken in the village’s only taxi the two miles to mass at Leckanvy chapel. Under a small bridge, someone was waiting for English soldiers. McConville said, “The IRA were waiting for the Black and Tans. They heard our car coming along, they were about to blow up the bridge, to kill them. “One of them peeked up ahead and saw it wasn’t the Black and Tans and said, ‘Don’t shoot,’ “Otherwise, I would have been all blown to bits,” McConville said with a laugh. The Black and Tans were not real soldiers explained McConville, they were prisoners let out of gaol and didn’t have proper soldier uniforms, they had black pants and tan tops. McConville said that the hills and waters of Combermere remind her of the beauty of the place of her birth. She was born into a farmhouse with 4 feet thick walls a field away from the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a field away from Croagh Patrick on the other. According to tradition, St. Patrick fasted 40 days and 40 nights on Croagh Patrick seeking God’s blessing to bring the Catholic Church to Ireland. For more pick up a copy of the March 28, paper.