Saturday 20 January 2018

Our oldest person dies just days before turning 110

Allison Bray

IRELAND'S oldest citizen has passed away -- just days before her 110th birthday.

Olivia Breen, who died earlier this week, was born on October 3, 1901, and witnessed history in the making over the past century.

She was born in Clonroche, Co Wexford, to an Anglo Irish Protestant family.

Her father was the local Justice of the Peace as well as the owner of a 200-acre farm.

She had vivid memories of being a schoolgirl during the Easter Rising and could recollect the horror of the sinking of the Titantic, said her daughter-in-law Rose Breen.

She lived through both world wars, losing her brother Richard during World War One when he was killed in the Battle of the Somme.

She also bore witness to the massive political and social changes in Ireland since the formation of the State.

Olivia, who was a widow for 47 years after losing her husband Patrick Breen in 1964, was an avid horsewoman and fiercely independent person who "was very strong in her ideas", her daughter-in-law said.


She had a passion for gardening and literature and "was very close to nature as well as a very independent thinker", Rose told the Irish Independent.

She attributed her longevity to a strong spirit and carefree attitude.

"She always said she never knew the meaning of the word 'worry'," Rose said.

Although Mrs Breen moved to the Care Choice nursing home in Co Cork in 2000, she was still very active and alert.

"She once told me to get her walking stick out of the boot of the car because she only uses it to keep the nurses happy," Rose added.

She also kept current with modern technology.

"She never felt old and she said she didn't think that being 100 was a big deal."

Olivia is survived by four children and more than a dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She was buried next to her husband at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin following Requiem Mass at St Peter's Church in Phibsboro on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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