Four generations of a Derry family have dedicated their lives to fighting fires.

The Feeneys’ connection with the fire service, both north and south of the border, stretches back more than 70 years.

Mickey Feeney joined the fire service in Derry in 1944.

His son, also called Mickey, started his career as a firefighter in 1966 went on to become the Chief Fire Officer at City of Derry Airport.

Sean Feeney, another son of Mickey senior, joined the airport’s fire crew in 1988.

Three of Mickey senior’s grandsons, Conor, Kieran and James, are currently members of the auxiliary fire service in County Donegal.

And the family’s link with the fire service is set to continue after Mickey senior’s great-grandson, 18-year-old Gerard Feeney, also recently signed up to be a member of the Donegal auxiliary team.

The auxiliary volunteers act as a back-up to the full-time fire crews in Donegal.

Mickey junior, who retired from the City of Derry Airport in 2009 but continues to help out the auxiliary fire service in Donegal, said he was very proud of his family’s association with the fire service.

“We have all taken inspiration from the previous generations,” he said.

“I grew up watching my father working as a fireman and he inspired myself and my brother to follow him into the service.

“I was very proud when my own three sons took an interest in the fire service and now my grandson Gerard is continuing that link into a new generation.”
Mickey was born in Nelson Street in the Bogside in 1949 but his parents, Mickey and Peggy, moved to Creggan a short time later where they raised their 14 children.

Mickey, who now lives in Glenowen in Derry, has happy memories of his father’s workplace.

“As work was hard to find in those days we were very fortunate that my father had a job in the fire service.

“He started in the early 1940s near the end of the war years in the National Fire Service and there were several wartime fire stations in Derry, at Strand Road, Hawkin Street and at Prehen Road in the Waterside.

“I used to always look forward to my father coming home from the fire station after finishing a 24 hours shift on duty and talking about his experiences.”
Mickey joined the auxiliary fire service in Derry at the age of 17 but the service was disbanded in 1968.
He spent several years in the Irish Army and also toured for a number of years as a drummer in showbands, before taking up a post at City of Derry Airport in 1979.

Despite his retirement several years ago, Mickey said he still enjoyed helping the next generation of firefighters.

“This job has given me so much and I am delighted my sons and grandson are following in my footsteps.”
Photo shows Peggy Feeney with her sons, grandsons and great-grandson who are all firefighters, from left, Conor, Kieran, Sean, Mickey, James and Gerard.

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