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Poignant 100th birthday bash for Bridie as she remembers late twin

A 100-year-old woman marked her landmark birthday with a party at the Mansion House but the day was tinged with sadness.

Bridie Sharkey, from Ballybough, lost her twin Margaret in April 2009 when she was 98, so she fondly remembered her during the celebrations.

Both sisters were inseparable, particularly in the last 30 years, according to Bridie, when Margaret returned home from America to live with Bridie, and neither married.

Bridie said: "Margaret got sick and died last year. It's lonely without her now, but my neighbours are very good to me."

Close family friend Nial Ring said: "The two of them were together all of the time, and they were heavily involved in the Blessed Sacrament Church on Bachelors Walk."

The sisters were born on November 23, 1910, and grew up in Rutland Cottages, Summerhill, Dublin, in a family of 10 children. Bridie's friends describe her as an energetic centenarian who still attends mass every day, and her secret for longevity is that she doesn't drink or smoke.

"Bridie's attitude is 'I'm 100 and I'm still going strong, and looking forward to the next number of years'," Nial said.

Last Sunday, Bridie's family and friends presented her with a Centenarian Bounty from the President, along with the State's gift of €2,540 which every 100-year-old Irish citizen receives. And the quick-witted lady, who has lived through several recessions, alluded to present day politics in her acceptance speech.

"With the IMF here I'd better cash this cheque quick," she joked.

She says the country is no better now than it was 100 years ago when she was born, when people had to emigrate to make ends meet.

"It's not getting any better. They're all running away from the place now."

Margaret emigrated to America to work as a nanny, but when she retired, she returned to her beloved sister and they lived together.

"They were absolutely inseparable, they were all the time together. They were always going into town, into Mass, and to the Legion of Mary," said Nial. "There's a lovely photograph of the two of them on Margaret's mantelpiece of when they were only two years old, and they were gorgeous in their little dresses."

Bridie now lives alone independently although she relies on her relations -- from an extended family of over 100 people -- and especially her neighbours to help her.