LOOKING BACK - January 30 edition

Ross and Dermot McCourt on their wedding day
Ross and Dermot McCourt on their wedding day

Ross and Dermot McCourt

Ross and Dermot McCourt celebrated their golden wedding in South Africa on January 4 - but their story so nearly didn’t have a happy ending.

Ross and Dermot McCourt celebrating their golden wedding

Ross and Dermot McCourt celebrating their golden wedding

Just a week before they were due to be married on November 9, 1963, they were passengers in a tragic car accident in which three people sadly died. Walking home from a dance they’d accepted a lift and the crash happened less than 300 yards later in Bilton Road. Although they were both badly injured - Ross was in a coma until mid-December- they were well enough to rearrange a quiet wedding in the new year and begin 50 happy years together.
They had met on Christmas night in 1962, when Dermot’s mother was in hospital and he suggested to his father they invite a few of the nurses to a party at their house, 37 Lytham Road. Three student nurses came - Ross, Mary Scally (who married the late Joe Kane and now lives in Johannesburg and was a guest at their golden wedding party) and Noleen Daily, who now lives in Burdoran County Donagal. 
For Ross and Dermot’s first date on New Year’s eve they went to a dance at the town hall, with Tom Ward’s band playing. 
“Within a week we had agreed we would marry and planned to get engaged on Valentines day, but my mother died on that day so we put it off until Ross’s birthday on April 1,” explained Dermot. “The wedding was to be held at St Marie’s Church, with Father Gates officiating and a reception at the Railway Club in Hillmorton Road for 130. The accident which happened the weekend before changed everything, but thankfully Ross was discharged in time for Christmas .”

On January 2 their specialist Mr Ian Sharp said they needed to convalesce somewhere quiet and they decided to go to Ross’s parents farm in Blacklion, County Cavan, and any wedding must be a quiet affair too. And so it was, just two days later.

After their honeymoon, they rented a flat at 22 Manor Road above Jack Ayres butchers and later bought their own house at 20 Belmont Road. Their son Aaron was born in 1967 and daughter Collette in 1973. Aaron has a daughter called Kerry Lee aged 14 and Collette married Adam, an Australian man, last year. 
Just before the accident Ross had passed her final nursing exams and was working as a staff nurse at St Cross in the medical unit and Dermot was a telecoms engineer for Plessey. In 1972 he was offered a two-year contract in Durban, South Africa where they have lived ever since in a suburb called the Bluff. Ross worked at Wentworth Hospital as a senior sister for more than 30 years and is still a nursing sister at a retirement centre. Dermot stayed in the telecommunications field and in 1978 joined a technical replacement company as a consultant, before going into partnership and working as the HR Director in a labour broker firm from where he semi-retired in 2012.

“We never did work out the cost difference between the two weddings!” added Dermot. But the couple hope to return to Rugby for a holiday in July so that those who missed out on their wedding reception can enjoy a get together and share a few beers and memories.