Back in 1955 Tom Ahern from Dungourney spent five days at sea before landing in New York, on his own, having left behind his happy and carefree life in Ballyknock to seek his fortune abroad. Finishing his schooling in Dungourney School at the age of 14, Tom worked firstly as a Ploughman and, Gifted with a love of sports, he played with the Dungourney team. "I left behind my happy life with my brother and three sisters in Ballyknock" “Tom told The East Cork Journal "because I knew that farming was not for me. Four car loads of family and friends came to see me off at Cobh", he said, "and I was sick all the way to America". Arriving in the USA Tom became a Bus Driver, and retired after 37 years with the Bus Company saying "Sundays were always the hardest because I worked a route that went to Gaelic Park and all the Irish lads and lassies would be going to the Match. I was often lonely for home".
Married to Kathleen, they have six children and twenty grandchildren. On Friday night last a great Ahern get-together was organised in Youghal for all the Ahern relatives, which now extends over five families - two Aherns, Doocey, Griffin and Whelan, and there were upwards of 100 at the Reunion. Hosted in Farrell's of Summerfield, Tom and Kathleen with five of their children and eight grandchildren from the USA, his sister Maureen and all 'the clan' celebrated in style, and enjoyed a wonderful night of music, song, great food and many reminiscences.
Tom "I always thought about home but I’ve had a very happy life in the U.S. I made good friends, went to all the Irish dances, and I met Kathleen at a Ceilí!" Over the many years, Tom always maintained a close relationship with his Dungourney/East Cork families and got a rousing cheer from all his relatives when he said "I could safely say we have a unique bond".
Tom, Kathleen and his family hope to make many more trips "home" to Ballyknock, Dungourney, where there is always a huge welcome for them.