Monday, May 22, 2023

Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Ireland’s oldest person, Mairin Hughes, still knows how to enjoy life.

The “inspirational” 109 year old still does the crossword regularly, loves birdwatching and “does everything you’re supposed to do to keep well”.

On Monday, Ms Hughes, who was born in Belfast and spent part of her long life in Kerry, Cork and Dublin, celebrated her birthday with her community at Maryfield Nursing Home in Chapelizod, Dublin.

As she arrived in the lobby of the nursing home, sporting a navy blazer and pink scarf, she expressed surprise at her fellow residents and a family member waiting for her with balloons and a big cake.

She was presented with medals for each year she has lived as a centenarian, and read out a quote to the room that accompanied her latest medal, which she remarked was very true.

“You have lived through remarkable times in the history of Ireland and the world. You have witnessed remarkable changes, unimaginable at the time of your birth in 1914.

“Sin a bhfuil,” she added afterwards, Irish for that is all.

Mairin Hughes birthday
A celebration is held for Mairin Hughes (Gráinne Ní Aodha/PA)

After her favourite song, Óró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile, was played, she and her friends boarded the vintage tea bus that awaited them outside.

She said her advice to people is to live life to the full and that not wasting time is important.

She said she does enjoy her birthdays, adding: “It’s nice to get cards and that sort of thing, it’s nice to know that people remember you.”

When asked if life gets better as you get older, she said “you learn a certain amount and you do advance that way, and you learn to cope with situations”.

She added: “I’m a cosmopolitan, because I was born in Belfast, and then dad was transferred to Dublin, and we were in Dublin for a couple of years, and then transferred to Killarney, and he retired while we were in Killarney so we still stayed there.

“When I married I moved to Cork.”

She said life at Maryfield was the next step in her remarkable journey.

When asked if she likes city life, she said: “I like the country, I want to see greenery. I like the quietness and the birds, which we have here. They’re gorgeous around the river.”

Mairin Hughes birthday
Mairin Hughes celebrated on the vintage tea bus (Gráinne Ní Aodha/PA)

Asked for her advice on a happy life, she said it is all about your attitude.

Orla Quigg, director of nursing at Maryfield, said she is a smart woman who loves doing puzzles daily.

“Mairin is a super lady. She really is inspirational to all of us here,” she said.

“She’s lived on the grounds of Maryfield for over 30 years. She lived in apartments at the front and then she moved into the nursing home when it was rebuilt.

“She plays Scrabble every day, she does a crossword every day, she does everything you’re supposed to do to keep well.

“She loves history and she’s part of history. She’s very witty, she’s so smart.”

She added: “She doesn’t like the fuss, she doesn’t see why she should be made a fuss of. She just does what she does, and she feels if you get up every morning, sure that’s enough.”

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