Gutsy gran (105) who took on Aras dies
Published 26/11/2010 | 05:00
ONE of Ireland's oldest citizens, who took on President Mary McAleese and forced a change in the law, has died aged 105.
A campaign headed by Hanoria O'Leary resulted in all non-resident Irish people getting a cheque from the President when they turn 100.
It is understood the bonus will remain untouched in the forthcoming Budget. Mrs O'Leary made national headlines in 2005 as Aras an Uachtarain refused to hand over the centenarian's bounty when she turned 100.
Mrs O'Leary, originally from Sneem, Co Kerry, had been denied the cheque for €2,540 because she had been living with her daughter in England since she was 75.
However, Aras an Uachtarain had to make a U-turn on its policy when her family campaigned tirelessly to have the decision overturned.
Thanks to Mrs O'Leary, all Irish people living abroad who reach 100 have been entitled to the presidential gift since 2006.
Mrs O'Leary's son Jim said that, ironically, his mother was never too interested in money. "She used to say, 'if they don't give it, they can stick it'," Mr O'Leary said.
She never got too worked up about money anyway. She always said that nobody takes it with them."
Mrs O'Leary passed away in England earlier this week and her remains will be repatriated to Ireland for burial in her native Sneem.
Mrs O'Leary, a grandmother and great-grandmother, had moved to England to live with her daughter Bridie 30 years ago. She returned to Sneem to celebrate her 100th birthday in June 2005.
However, her birthday celebrations were soured by a letter from Aras an Uachtarain outlining their policy on non-residents not getting the gift.
"We fought it tooth and nail and my sister Maryanne lobbied all the TDs. They changed their minds and she got the cheque," Mr O'Leary added.