Tuesday 12 December 2017

A vintage year for best 'Grandie' Andrew (100)

Michael McHale

IN his 100 years he's had five children, 22 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren. But it took just 50 words to make him the proudest grandfather in Ireland.

Centenarian Andrew O'Brien was announced as the 2010 Grandparent of the Year at a lavish ceremony in Dublin yesterday.

Nominated by his youngest grandchild, Shauna Johnstone, she used the 50-word limit application to sell him to competition judges as the best granddad a child could have.

"I think he's the best," Shauna said of her 'Grandie' in the entry, describing how he was the life and soul of his 100th birthday party last February, singing the songs 'Dublin Saunter' and, for his cousin who came from Australia especially for the event, 'Waltzing Matilda'.

After learning of his granddaughter's good deed, the pensioner couldn't have been more proud of the 12-year-old.

"I love Shauna, she's the greatest. I hope she'll go places," Mr O'Brien said.

Arriving in a special private bus from his home in Crumlin, south Dublin -- in honour of his 48 years of service as a bus conductor and driver with CIE -- family from as far away as Canada gathered in the capital's Merrion Hotel for the presentation ceremony. Among the guests were his sole surviving sibling, 96-year-old Tess White, and her husband Benny (97), who live in Phibsboro, while the youngest at the event was little Jane O'Brien from Cork. Named after Mr O'Brien's late wife, the two-week-old met her great-grandfather for the first time yesterday.

The plucky pensioner moved into his current home in 1939, and since Jane Senior died in August 2002 after 66 years of marriage, he has lived with and been cared for by Shauna as well as her mother Janet O'Brien (50) and aunt Joan O'Brien (65).

"He's always in a good mood and is absolutely a delight to look after," Janet said.

Next up for Mr O'Brien is a meeting with Dublin Lord Mayor Gerry Breen on Sunday, when he heads to Stephen's Green in the city for the Sunday Stroll as part of the celebrations for National Grandparents' Day.

When asked what the secret to his long life was, Mr O'Brien smiled and said two things: "the man above" and "good food".

Irish Independent

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