independent

Thursday 23 October 2014

'Magic day' as Madge marks 100th birthday

John Manning

Published 03/06/2014 | 05:32

Madge Fanning celebrating her 100th birthday in the Grand Hotel in Malahide.

A 'MAGIC day' is how the proud son of Skerries most famous centenarian described the incredible 100th birthday party of Margaret 'Madge' Fanning who incredibly, was the sixth member of her family to reach the milestone birthday.

A 'MAGIC day' is how the proud son of Skerries most famous centenarian described the incredible 100th birthday party of Margaret 'Madge' Fanning who incredibly, was the sixth member of her family to reach the milestone birthday.

Four siblings and Madge's mother have all reached and in some cases, exceeded 100-years-old, certainly a record in Ireland and perhaps even a world record.

Of her siblings – all of whom have died except sister Sheila (97) – Joe lived to 101, Charlie to 100, Pat to 102, James to 103 while their mother, Margaret, lived to 100 and was only claimed at that late stage of life by a car crash.

In fact, 13 members of Madge's family have amassed more than 1,200 years on earth between them – a mind-blowing statistic and proof that there is something really impressive going on in the Clarke family genes, Clarke being Madge's maiden name.

Born at the outbreak of World War 1, Madge moved from her native Galway to Skerries, two years before the break-out of World War 2 and started to bring up a family of her own which has now swelled to eight children, 15 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Dozens more of Madge's extended family were there last week for the birthday party, held in the splendour of the Grand Hotel in Malahide with 160 guests on what was a 'magic day', according to Madge's son, Joe.

'It was a magic day. We went to the local mass and she [Madge] got mass on the radio and then we went to the Grand Hotel. The staff were brilliant there and looked after us very well, you couldn't have asked for a better day.'

Madge was recently reported as saying that the secret to a long life was 'minding your own business' and taking the trouble, never to speak badly of people.

But Joe reckons it's a bit more than that, and thinks the Clarke family have a special attitude to life.

'I don't think it's down to a healthy lifestyle. Madge had two brothers who went to America and they lived on junk food and one of them lived until he was 103!

'The Clarkes had a phenomenal faith and a great family around them and a great attitude to life.'

Madge's clean living ways certainly won't have hurt in achieving the 100-year milestone though – the Skerries woman never drank or smoked and her birthday was a 'tee-total' event.

This was, when you think about it, the sixth 100th birthday party that Madge has attended and that is no mean feat in itself, and the family are now going to pursue the Guinnes Book of World Records to see if the Clarke family deserve a place in the record books.

However that turns out, Madge is a source of pride for all the Clarkes and Fannings, and none more so than Joe, who lives with and takes care of his mother at their Skerries home along with brother, Noel.

'We certainly are very proud of her – there is no doubt about that. It was a great day for her but very tiring too. I was talking to her there at lunchtime and she said she enjoyed it all but she was tired.'

Madge has become something of a local celebrity over the last week or so, with Joe sharing her story on national radio and several articles in the national press and she may not yet be done with the publicity.

We hear a rumour that Nationwide on RTE are interested in doing a piece on Madge so you may be seeing the Skerries centenarian on your TV screens before long. In the meantime, good health and even longer life to you, Madge!

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