Much travelled couple celebrate 65 years of marriage in Tipperary

From Germany to South Africa to Tipperary

Much travelled couple celebrate 65 years of marriage in Tipperary

Tipperary has hosted the 65th wedding anniversary celebrations of a couple who travelled the world before making Tipperary their home.

Heartfelt congratulations to Inge (Ingeborg) and Heinz (Heinrich) Gillessen on their 65th wedding anniversary.

Inge and Heinz hailed from Cologne in Germany and are now happily settled in Clerihan.

Seeking a better life, the young couple and their first born, Erika, made the arduous journey to relatives in South Africa in March 1955.

They departed Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam in a twin-engined Vickers Viscount. They flew for four days with 25 others, stopping only to refuel in France, Egypt, Sudan and Kenya.

Their journey ended with an emergency crash landing in Zimbabwe (former Rhodesia). Once local farmers rescued them, they completed the final leg of their trip by train through Musina (Messina) and on to Pretoria.

Their next child, Rudolf, arrived in November of the same year. Gabi completed the family’s happiness when she was born in 1965. The family settled in Pretoria and enjoyed many years among relatives and friends.

Irish nuns who had become close family friends, educated their children. With guidance from these nuns and another close family friend, Fr. Peter Byrne CSsR (RIP), they decided to immigrate to Ireland in 1984.

Their attraction to adventure and new horizons never diminished across the years.

They were still paragliding in Austria into their late 70s. They also made many trips to India with Gabi and her husband Van into their 80s.

Heinz and Rudolf worked in engineering together in Pretoria. Father and son set up their own workshop, Gillessen & Son Engineering, when they arrived in Ireland.

Over many years, they became known the length and breadth of Tipperary and further afield. Their unique ability to make any custom part that their clients needed was well known.

Heinz was a gifted tool maker; Rudolf a talented fitter/turner. Their combined trades resulted in creative, practical solutions to their client’s needs.

Inge is a terrific homemaker and is renowned for her baking, cooking and preserves. Every day after school, Rudolf’s children made a beeline to Inge's house to see what goodies were on offer. They were never disappointed! Flower arranging was also a big part of Inge’s life.

She, and a dedicated group of volunteers, looked after floral arrangements in the local church, St. Michael’s, in Clerihan.

Inge also gave German lessons to interested locals.

Their family celebrated their wedding anniversary in Cahir House Hotel on 21 April. It was wonderful to see Heinz’ elder sister Liesel, now in her late 80s, who had come all the way from Germany. She came with her granddaughter Martina and partner Bodo to surprise the happy couple.

Family members Erika, Gabi, Van, Rudolf, Mary, alongside friends Eileen, Eddie and Kasha were there for the celebration. They were joined by three of their five grandchildren, Jack, Adam and Róisín.

Their other grandchildren, Donovan and his wife, Susanne and Damian as well as great-grandchildren, Saoirse, Sean and Dorothea were in touch from Connecticut and Malta to add their good wishes to the celebration.

A wonderful night was had by all.

We wish Inge and Heinz continued happiness and many more adventures into the future.