Tuesday 24 October 2017

Sprightly Katie celebrates 106th birthday

Anita Guidera

AT 106 years young, Katie McMenamin is probably Ireland's oldest woman -- and she has six medals from President Mary McAleese to prove it.

The sprightly senior citizen and mother of three was surrounded yesterday by family and friends at her home on the Brae, Rathmullan, Co Donegal, to mark her 106th birthday.

An avid Irish Independent reader and crossword enthusiast, Katie still reads two books a week.

"I wish I could answer that," she replied when asked for her recipe for longevity.

"I try to look after myself and the family are more than good to me. I never touched a drink. I don't even know what wine tastes like."

Katie can still get out and about with the help of a walking aid and, apart from a loss of hearing, continues to enjoy relatively good health.

When she was 98, she visited Rome, she went to Lourdes when she was 99 and visited Amsterdam when she was 101.

"I went up and down the canals and along the red light district," she recalled.

World wars

Born on August 19, 1904, she has lived through both world wars, the Easter Rising and the Civil War.

"During the Civil War, we weren't allowed out on the streets because they were firing shots across the Swilly from Inishowen and the police were afraid there would be casualties," she said from her home overlooking Lough Swilly.

Katie also remembers the huge British naval presence around Lough Swilly during World War One.

As a young woman, she worked in post offices around Donegal where she met her future husband Paddy.

The couple married in 1941 and later went to work in England with their three children. They returned to Rathmullan in 1953. Katie was widowed in 1999 after 58 years of marriage.

Irish Independent

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