Sat | Jul 11, 2020

70 - Patrons from all over come to celebrate Raymond George Kirlew’s birthday

Published:Friday | March 13, 2020 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
A section of the crowd that turned out to celebrate Raymond Kirlew’s 70th birthday at the Village Green in St Ann’s Bay last Saturday.
The Heart of Stone Gerreh Band from Westmoreland was present to put some traditional music into the mix.
And what is a celebration without the pot covers?
A good woman (Grace Kirlew) and good food are some of the reasons why Raymond Kirlew is still around at age 70.

From the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, country, city, and town had they gone to the Village Green in St Ann’s Bay to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the birth of Raymond George Kirlew of Discovery Bay, St Ann. It was the evening of Saturday, March 7, a soirée to remember for a long time.

It was an evening filled with an abundance of joy, love, and much camaraderie – not to mention fun – that unfolded on the dance floor as the DJ spun the music to soothe the senses and sensibilities of the revellers, who spanned many generational gaps. The dancing skills and antics of Captain Everton Phillips made sure it was smooth sailing until the magic was gone.

For the palates of those who went to drink the night away, the liquor was non-stop. And the food? It was more than enough to feed the big poolside gathering. Known for his love of good food and the ‘waters’ (which he had given up drinking), Kirlew outdid himself on his big day, and you could see that the man was happy. So were his family, relatives, and friends.

Kirlew has many friends: the good ones, the ones who do not put him in trouble, the ones whom he chooses to embrace and let into his space, and the ones who love his stories. Yes, he is a great storyteller. There is never a time when he doesn’t have a story to tell, and he tells them with such energy and passion that listeners have no choice but to listen. And sometimes, he himself is the subject of his colourful stories.


The one that many people cannot get enough of, and which was serialised in this newspaper about 10 years ago, is the one about how he brought his wife, Grace, also known as Yvonne, back from the brink of death by treating her with a concoction of soursop leaves and barks. People from all over the world have read this amazing story and are still talking about it.

The story and the media attention that it got were brought up in a somewhat emotional way by Dwight, Kirlew’s stepson, who attributed his mother being alive today to what Kirlew had done for her. His speech was one of many from relatives and friends who ignored the limit to the number of people who could talk.

In his response, among other things, the affable grandfather asked for another 70 years, and it seems possible because he has the energetic movements of a 27-year-old, dropping all sorts of legs on the dance floor, sometimes with his wife, who had bought the dress in which she would have been buried and had prepared her own funeral when she felt that the scourge of cancer would have taken her to the other side.

On Saturday, she was at her husband’s side dancing up a storm herself, two ‘teenagers in love’. When Living sat with them while they ate, one of the things Grace Kirlew said was, “I adore him!” She went on: “He’s wonderful in many ways.”

There was much adoration for Ray Kirlew, who told Living, “Tell yuh the truth, sir, it feels no different from yesterday when I was 69. However, I feel very happy, very elated, to see my niece, nephew, friends, family joining me on this momentous occasion.” Having a big party for this milestone was very important for him. He said, “The Bible say once yuh reach three score plus 10, you know how it guh. You’re on borrowed time.”

From the look of things, it’s going to be a long “borrowed time”. For “good food”, “a good woman”, “plenty sleep”, “plenty water”, and “keeping away from drugs” are some of the ingredients in his longevity. And he also advised, “Don’t be selfish.”