One hundred and counting ...
Published 20/01/2011 | 05:00
HE is probably Ireland's oldest immigrant and this week he was celebrating many happy returns on the double, with best wishes from two heads of state.
John Sweeney celebrated his 100th birthday with greetings from both President Mary McAleese and Queen Elizabeth.
He received the President's letter and the queen's birthday card as he is British-born though now lives in Ireland. Born on January 18, 1911, John left his native Scotland just four years ago when his only son Danny (67) persuaded him to move to Ireland and live with him and his Donegal-born wife Agatha, now deceased, in Drumaweir, Greencastle.
The hale and hearty 100-year-old puts his longevity down to a frequent glass of stout and a puff of his pipe. He kept his lean, wiry physique by walking four miles a day well into his 90s.
"Time passes on. It's been a happy life and I had a wonderful wife," beamed John. "I liked to go out for a walk, stop to talk to people and smoke my pipe."
Relatives and close friends, some of whom travelled from Glasgow and Cornwall for the celebrations, heard John described as a "modest, unassuming man who was always full of fun".
Still good on his feet, he celebrated by waltzing some of the women around the floor in the local Greencastle pub, the Sean Ti.