Nursing home residents share their stories and offer life advice in new book

Over 80 nursing home residents - including five centenarians - have contributed to a Christmas book of Irish life past and present.

The book called 'A story I have lived so long to make' is a compilation of writings by nursing home residents across the country and has been compiled by Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI).

Among the contributors to the book are Mary Glynn and Aggie Walsh who are new entrants to the centenarian club, having both turned 100 in 2018. They have become great friends since moving to Blake Manor Nursing Home in Galway. Both had advice for the younger generation after living through two world wars and the Great Depression.

“Always use your manners. Try to be obliging to others and peaceful,” was Mary's advice.

Aggie advised the generation coming after her to live by: "The saying 'forgive and forget' is great; there's no use holding onto issues. If someone doesn't like you, let it be."

Áine Uí Mhathuna is an incredible 102 years-of-age and a resident of Marymount Care Centre in Westmanstown in Dublin.

In the book, she advises people to be positively involved within their local community and to recognise there are always people in a worse position than you. She continues to live positively, enjoying outings to places such as the National Concert Hall and Croke Park.

"My philosophy of life, if you can call it that, is to enjoy everything in moderation. Keep busy in the community and with your family and always remember that there is always someone much worse off than you.

"For me, the Irish Countrywomen’s Association was a great way of being positively involved in the community and to meet various people," she wrote.

Lily Keenan, who lives in Ballard Lodge in Laois is one of the younger contributors to the book at 86 years of age. She said that despite living through some of the world's most historic moments, it is the simple memories that give her most pleasure.

"My fond memories are of more simple events and joys in life. I remember coming home from ballroom dancing with a group of my friends, laughing and singing all through the night. I remember meeting the love of my life, John, and the days he would ask me to go out with him.

"I remember the day I finally said yes. I remember the births of all ten of our beautiful children and watching them grow into wonderful adults. I remember looking after my countless grandchildren and spoiling them rotten. These are the memories I cherish and hold close to my heart," she wrote

Margaret ‘Peg’ Riordan is a resident of St Joseph’s Nursing Home in Killorglin in Kerry and is the oldest contributor to the book, having turned 104 this year.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of NHI, said the book will touch the lives of many and has real societal value as a project.

“What we have brought together is a truly wonderful collection of writings that encompass positive reflections from some of the oldest people living in our communities. These writers reflect upon life present and life past, including stories encompassing humour, happiness, faith, friendship and love. The residents have also put to paper sage advice and offer unique reflections on life.

"I’m sure that people reading the book will laugh and be touched by sentiment within the writings.

“We see this book as having tremendous societal value and wish to share it with people who will have an interest in stories of today and yesteryear. It can make for a very special, touching Christmas offering for a loved one," he said.

Mr Daly said nursing homes are committed to enabling the residents entrusted in their care to pursue their hobbies and interests in addition to participating in meaningful and engaging activities.

"The arts of writing and story-telling have been integral to many older people during their lives. This extraordinary project was developed as an opportunity for nursing home residents to embrace story-telling and put pen to paper. For many, it’s a first for them to see a writing of theirs published in print," he said.

NHI is making the book available at no charge, though people should not delay in ordering a copy as supply is limited.

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