| 11°C Dublin

Close

Premium

Meet Ireland's centenarians: ‘I think I was always happy, but I feel despairing when I look at the world now’

Born in 1922, a select club of citizens share the year of their birth with the foundation of the Irish State. Here, four of them share the stories of their lives and the secret to a long, happy life

Close

Centenarian Michael Caden. Picture: Mark Condren

Centenarian Michael Caden. Picture: Mark Condren

100 year old Sr Mercedes Desmond pictured in her home at St Mary's of the Isle on Sharman Crawford Street, Cork City. Picture Clare Keogh

100 year old Sr Mercedes Desmond pictured in her home at St Mary's of the Isle on Sharman Crawford Street, Cork City. Picture Clare Keogh

100 year old Sr Mercedes Desmond pictured in her home at St Mary's of the Isle on Sharman Crawford Street, Cork City. Picture Clare Keogh

100 year old Sr Mercedes Desmond pictured in her home at St Mary's of the Isle on Sharman Crawford Street, Cork City. Picture Clare Keogh

Sr Mercedes Desmond. Picture: Clare Keogh

Sr Mercedes Desmond. Picture: Clare Keogh

Sr Mercedes Desmond. Picture: Clare Keogh

Sr Mercedes Desmond. Picture: Clare Keogh

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Michael Caden. Picture: Mark Condren

Michael Caden. Picture: Mark Condren

Centenarian Michael Cadden. Pic:Mark Condren

Centenarian Michael Cadden. Pic:Mark Condren

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Vincent Conroy

Centenarian Michael Cadden. Pic:Mark Condren

Centenarian Michael Cadden. Pic:Mark Condren

Bridie Byrne. Picture: Lorcan Doherty

Bridie Byrne. Picture: Lorcan Doherty

Sr Mercedes with Taoiseach Micheál Martin at her 100th birthday party

Sr Mercedes with Taoiseach Micheál Martin at her 100th birthday party

Bridie with her brother Danny and sister Molly

Bridie with her brother Danny and sister Molly

Michael and his late wife Ann on their wedding day in 1952

Michael and his late wife Ann on their wedding day in 1952

Michael and his first grandchild Emma

Michael and his first grandchild Emma

Sr Mercedes receiving an honorary doctorate from UCC in 2015

Sr Mercedes receiving an honorary doctorate from UCC in 2015

Bridie with her friend Barbara Breslin

Bridie with her friend Barbara Breslin

Michael playing the accordian

Michael playing the accordian

Vincent with three of his 14 siblings, sister Lena and brothers Connie and Bernie

Vincent with three of his 14 siblings, sister Lena and brothers Connie and Bernie

Vincent enjoying a flying experience in 2007 with his friend Padraig Forde

Vincent enjoying a flying experience in 2007 with his friend Padraig Forde

/

Centenarian Michael Caden. Picture: Mark Condren

When it came to ageing, Albert Einstein had this to say: “Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.” Having spent some time in the company of some of the country’s oldest citizens, it struck me that all had a relentless curiosity about life that the years have not dimmed. While they are from different backgrounds and parts of the country, all of them had this innate curiosity about the world in common.

Poverty was a harsh reality of life, but when they look back on their lives, it’s not the privations they focus on but the people and things they loved, their memories spun into precious gold. Having lived such long lives, they have seen many loved ones die, and this is a source of sadness, yet all of them find joy in the everyday things of life and share some of the secrets of what has made them happy.


Most Watched





Privacy