Monday 19 March 2018

Grave experts 'dig up' a 129-year-old Ardee man

The Taaffe family grave in Ballapousta.
The Taaffe family grave in Ballapousta.

Hubert Murphy

Ballapousta is the final resting place of the oldest documented person that has ever lived – a member of the Taaffe family who was 129 when he died in 1848.

That would mean he was born in 1719! has completed a survey of the entire graveyard and came up with the details on Randal Taaffe, who they say died in June 1848, aged 129.

The results of the survey can be found in map form at the rear of the church in Ardee. It lists everybody buried there, but does advise those who see a mistake to contact the sacristy or parish office.

The map producers claim that Randal is buried in the family plot at the side of the church. It lists: Bridget M. Taaffe died January 1837 aged 16, George Taaffe from Smarmore died August 1848 aged 54, John Taaffe died February 1821 aged 43, Mary Taaffe aged 24, Mary J. Taaffe died May 1840 aged 8, Randal Taaffe died June 1848 aged 129, and Thomastine M. Taaffe aged 18.

However, the writing has faded considerably on the stonework making it very difficult to decipher.

The discovery would mean that Randal is a world beater.

At present, the longest unambiguously documented lifespan is that of French woman Jeanne Calment (1875–1997), who died at the age of 122 years, 164 days.

The oldest man in history was Jiroemon Kimura from Japan who died in June 2013 at the age of 116 years, 54 days.

The Taaffe family came from nearby Smarmore Castle, having arrived from Wales in the early 1300s. Successive generations of Taaffes continued to make Smarmore Castle their main residence in Ireland until the mid-1980s when the property was sold.

Olivia Mary Taaffe founded the St. Joseph's Young Priests' Society which exists to this day.

The details on Randal Taaffe can be viewed in Ardee church.

Another of those buried in Ballapousta made the century mark, Padraic Murphy from Stoney Lane is listed as passing away at the age of 100 in February 2006.

The claims in relation to Randal Taaffe are now likely to be further investigated.

Drogheda Independent