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How did they get here? Niamh Matthews

By Rebecca Mills

From one small town to another, both Niamh Matthews and her husband, Colin, are from Ardee, Ireland. Ardee, a town with a population of less than 5,000, is located in the smallest county in Ireland, County Louth, also a midway point between Dublin and Belfast. Ardee is the hometown of of Fergal Reilly, a storyboard artist, animator, and, most famously, the director of The Angry Birds Movie.

Niamh and Colin left Ireland for the Untied States when Niamh was 22 years old. A few days prior, she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science, Animal Science. Their time in the U.S. was meant to be only a year, but their plans changed. They were determined to start their own dairy farm, and they found an empty diary for rent right outside of Garfield. For 11 years, the Matthews family poured their hearts into their dairy farm. A few years ago, the dairy herd was sold, and now their primary focus is working with beef cows.

The weather in Ireland is cold and, for lack of a better term, dreary. Niamh adores the warm, sunny weather that Emanuel County has to offer. “Even the hot summers are not too much of a deterrent. After growing up in Ireland, it is always nice to see the sun shining!”

Niamh does find herself missing home, particularly the opportunity to see family. While they, historically, were able to regularly travel back to Ireland, there was a five year gap that COVID only enhanced. With technology’s advancements, she was very thankful to be able to stay in regular communication with her family back home.

Nothing, however, beats seeing your loved ones face-to-face. In April of this year, they were able to make a very special trip home for their youngest daughter. It was her first time meeting her family, and she was able to celebrate her fourth birthday in Ireland! The trip was such a raging success that their older daughter has requested to do the same for her birthday. Their two sons have had several opportunities to visit family and their parents’ homeland.

When visiting Ireland, the Matthews family has a select list of foods to find. For dinner, roast lamb is a family-favorite. They aways indulge in chips (similar to what we call French fries, with more flavorful options including curry and garlic). Their favorite chipper is Mario’s in Ardee. A quick search of the web shows that Mario’s has a cult following for having the best chips in the area. Niamh and her children love the chocolate and candy that the shops have to offer. One of the kids’ favorite Irish experiences is walking down Main Street in Ardee to find their favorite ice cream, called a “99”. A 99 is, what Americans would refer to as, a soft serve cone. What sets a 99 apart is the stick of flaky milk chocolate that is stuck in the side of the ice cream. The Matthews kids will try several shops in their first days in Ireland in attempt to find the best, and then “become loyal customers for the remainder of their stay.

While the Matthews family enjoy their trips home to the fullest, Emanuel County is their home. “I am just trying to bloom where I am planted,” Niamh says. Their children were born and raised here, and the entire family is happy here. As they continue on their journey here, we wish the Matthews family the best.

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