Friday 30 September 2016

Dublin woman's secret to living to 105? The odd glass of sherry and good moisturiser

Published 23/06/2015 | 17:36

23/06/2015 Nieces of Elizabeth Dempsey (L to R front Row) Miriam Scott & Anita Fitzgibbon celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Nieces of Elizabeth Dempsey (L to R front Row) Miriam Scott & Anita Fitzgibbon celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

She has lived through the 1916 Rising and two World Wars.

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She retired 40 years ago at the age of 75 - and remembers how the Metropole and the Gresham hosted the best dances.

As Dublin woman Elizabeth Dempsey celebrated her 105th birthday today, she is more than happy to recount her time, as well as share a few of her secrets to ageing well.

And what are those secrets? Investing in a good moisturiser and the odd tipple of sherry is advised.

23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey & her niece Anita Fitzgibbon celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Nieces & Nephews of Elizabeth Dempsey (L to R Back Row) Edward Dempsey,Denis Costello,Simon Costello with (L to R front Row) Miriam Scott & Anita Fitzgibbon celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Elizabeth is “very particular” about cleansing her face and always used expensive cream, usually bought from Mahers Chemist on Baggot Street. She also enjoys having her hair set weekly by her hairdresser Rose and the odd glass of sherry.

She was joined by her family - spanning several generations - as she celebrated her birthday as part of the Nursing Homes Week in Ailesbury Nursing Home in Sandymount.

Ms Dempsey was born and reared on St Mary's Road in Ballsbridge on June 23rd, 1910. She was the eldest four children - her siblings were James, Margaret (Peggy) and Mary.

When she turned 16, Elizabeth attended a commercial school where she studied for two years.

At the age of 18, Elizabeth went to work for Cartan, O'Meara & Kieran, a solicitor's office where she worked until she turned 75 and was head of department for some time after collecting a number of degrees.

As a young woman, she remembers how the Gresham Hotel on O'Connell Street and the Metropole Hotel (the building is still there on George's Street - where the arcade is) were the best places for a young girl to enjoy a dance.

23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Elizabeth Dempsey celebrates her 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Nieces & Nephews of Elizabeth Dempsey (L to R Back Row) Edward Dempsey,Denis Costello,Simon Costello with (L to R front Row) Miriam Scott & Anita Fitzgibbon celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
23/06/2015 Nieces & Nephews of Elizabeth Dempsey (L to R Back Row) Edward Dempsey,Denis Costello,Simon Costello with (L to R front Row) Miriam Scott & Anita Fitzgibbon celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday as part of Nursing Homes Week 2015 in Ailesbury Nursing Home, Park Avenue, Sandymount, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

However, she was more into the arts and frequented Dublin's Gaiety, Abbey and Olympia theatres. A performance would cost some 10 shillings - an "awfully expenisve" hobby for a young woman in Dublin at the time.

And so, she often opted to go to cheaper gallery viewings, where young of Dublin could get a glimpse of London's stars.

Elizabeth was just six years of age during the Easter Rising and was living on Mespil Road with her family at the time.

She was told to stay away from the windows of her home as soldiers were on a bridge nearby. Sadly, she can remember how a young friend of hers died after she was shot by a sniper while playing by a window. "The gunmen were everywhere and all too ready to shoot,” she recalled.

Prior to WW2 Elizabeth had holidayed in London and loved what the clothes shops had to offer over there.  “You could buy a silky cotton dress in Selfridges or M&S for 1 pound," she siad.

Elizabeth’s sister Peggy was admitted to Ailesbury in 2004 after she broke her hip and she joined her sister Peggy living in Ailesbury NH shortly after.

The two sisters even shared a room until Peggy passed away in December 2006.

Elizabeth has four nephews and three nieces whom she idolises and they visit her often.

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