'She's like a little Buddha in Clonard' - great, great grandmother Nancy turns 106

Born on October 16, 1913, Nancy Stewart (nee Bird) from Clonard is older than the State and still lives mostly independently in her own home with the help of family who stay with her.

'She's like a little Buddha in Clonard' - great, great grandmother Nancy turns 106

"Good food, good friends and staying positive" is the secret of living a long and healthy life, says a Co. Meath lady who turns 106 today.

Born on October 16, 1913, Nancy Stewart (nee Bird) from Clonard is older than the State and still lives mostly independently in her own home with the help of family who stay with her.

"I'm really excited about today," she said adding, " but I did second guess myself that maybe I wasn't as old as I am," she laughed.

"It's all about good food, good friends and always looking on the bright side of life. I think that's the secret to a good life,

"You also should look on the bright side all the time, no matter what. Don't dwell on the past," said the mum of six, who has 64 grandchildren, great and great, great grandchildren.

Despite always remaining positive, Nancy has had to endure tragedy in her life with the loss of her husband and her twin daughters Ann and Margaret.

In 1989, Nancy lost her husband Bob in a car crash while they were both travelling to Mass, Tragically, she was in hospital for five days with a facial injury before regaining consciousness to discover that not only had the love of her life died, but that she had missed his funeral, too.

She also had to say goodbye to her daughter Margaret who died from motor neuron disease and her twin Ann who died suddenly some years later.

However, Nancy coped with her grief and carried on with her life to ensure she was always there for her remaining children.

Nancy's granddaughter, Louise Coghlan (aged 36), described her gran today as 'the strongest woman I have ever met, and my best friend.

"She has such a clear mind and can remember the Bishop arriving to her primary school on horseback. She also has vivid memories of the Black & Tans and World War II."

"She has so many friends around here who are just drawn to her positivity. She's like a little Buddha in Clonard.

"If you talk to her about yesteryear, she prefers to talk about the present and she'll say, 'that's in the past, it's always more important to concentrate on living and enjoying today.

"She's the modern-day version of mindfulness, only for she's 106 years old."

Despite turning 106 today, Nancy still lives mostly independently in her own home and has almost perfect eyesight and hearing.

Pic: Seamus Farrelly.
Pic: Seamus Farrelly.

Louise said: "She spotted the tiniest piece of turf on the carpet the other day and I asked how she saw it without glasses. Ah, she said, glasses are for old people."

Thankfully, Nancy has remained in good health and has made a full recovery from a broken hip in a fall last Christmas Eve

"She was in hospital for a month and then in respite and now she's flying around like she didn't break the hip at all," said Louise

"She went for a check-up recently and doctors came in to look at the x-ray. They couldn't believe her bone density was so good. Her blood pressure is perfect and her blood sugar is only 5.4.

"She puts a lot of her health down to her positivity for her mind and good food - three meals a day - and loads of tea."

Nancy has also never missed voting in an election but coyly never tells anyone who she has voted for.

"I'd always tell everyone to get out and vote," said Nancy

"Your country needs you and it's your duty. You have to be a voice for those who are too young to vote. You can't complain about the state of the country if you don't vote. You can only complain if you do,"

Pic: Seamus Farrelly.
Pic: Seamus Farrelly.

Aside from today's celebrations, the community are holding a Mass and refreshments in her honour at the weekend.

"The house is always full of people coming and going and I think that keeps gran going," said Louise.

"We think that she is the fourth oldest in the country but we can't find out for definite.

"It doesn't matter though. There is something really magical about gran. She is everything the world needs. If you are looking for a miracle, she's sitting up in Clonard drinking tea."

More in this section