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Tony and Irene Dempsey celebrate 65 years of marriage on Valentine's Day

Date published: 12 February 2018


A local couple will celebrate 65 years of wedded bliss on Valentine’s Day.

Tony and Irene Dempsey (née Finegan) married at St Anselm's RC Church on John Street, Whitworth on 14 February 1953 before a reception at Whitworth Working Men's Club. The date was chosen as the first Saturday after Irene turned 21 on 9 February.

Tony and Irene met at Dublin Company cotton mill on North Street, Whitworth in 1948. Although they were aware of each other, they actually first got together at a dance at The Whitworth Conservatory Club. Tony had to do his National Service during the years of 1948/1950 and during this period, they were corresponding with the occasional meet-up.

Irene and her sister, Teresa, moved to Whitworth from Middleton when Irene was 14 years old. Tony is one of seven children, having five brothers, Frank, Joe, Bernard, Peter and Johnny, and a sister, Kath.

Shortly after they married, the couple moved onto Springmill Crescent, Wallbank and later moved to Eastgate, Wallbank, which overlooked the railway line and the park. They went on to have three children together, Bernard, Maureen and Eileen.

They recall watching the last ever train pass through Whitworth Station and Tony seems to remember that was in 1963. They now live in Tong Lane Flats and have lived there for 10 years; prior to this, they lived on Grove Terrace for 40 years.

If you ask them what is the secret to a happy marriage, Tony believes it's the 'luck of the draw' that you find the 'right one' in the first place, and Irene said, 'give and take.' Both feel their children also helped.

Family means absolutely everything to them and they feel blessed to also have six wonderful grandchildren – Matthew, Sarah, Sammy, Paul, Lydia and Amelia – and three great-grandchildren, Jack, Joe and Leah.

Irene spent almost all of her working life in the cotton mill, and spent many years working at Orama Mill, Hall Street, Whitworth, where she made good friends and although, hard work, she has happy memories. She ended her working days working part-time at Tonacliffe School as a dinner lady, which she enjoyed very much.

Tony worked at Fred Smith's Engineering Company on Market Street, Whitworth, for 18 years, as an Engineering Store Keeper. He then moved to J&J Makin, Kingsway, Rochdale until his retirement in 1993.

When asked how it feels to have been married for 65 years, Irene and Tony both agree that they cannot believe it has been 65 years: they do not know where the time has gone at all, as it has passed so quickly. They also agreed that they would not change a single thing if they had to do it all again.

Bernard, Maureen and Eileen said: “We are so happy to be celebrating our parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. We are immensely proud to call them our parents. Although, it is not said very often, we are grateful for all the sacrifices our parents have made and how very hard they both worked to provide the best they could for us: something you don't always appreciate when you are very young.”

They added: “Thank you Mum and Dad for always being there for each and every one of us, your love shines out and touches us all. Have a fantastic anniversary, for you truly deserve it.

"All our love always from Bernard and Sharron, Maureen, Chris, Lydia, Amelia and Emmet, Eileen, Paul, Sammy and Paul, Sarah and Leah, Matthew, Marie, Jack, Joe and Eve, and Jane and John.”

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