Offaly native Mary Flynn last weekend celebrated a very special birthday. Born on March 1, 1912, Mary marked turning 100 surrounded by family and friends at Brideswell Nursing Home in Roscommon last Thursday and enjoyed a second celebration with family last Saturday. Speaking to the Offaly Independent this week Mary's nephew Stephen McNeill of Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society said his favourite aunt is not finished celebrating yet either.
Born in Curraghbui in the townland of Bloomhill just outside Ballinahown, Mary was the only daughter in a family of five born to Martin McNeill and Margaret Flynn. After living in the area for 26 years she moved to Taughmaconnell in Roscommon with her new husband Michael Joe Flynn in 1938. "Her mother was Flynn and she in turn married a Flynn," Stephen explained. Helping her husband with his farm, shop and post office business, Mary became known for her generosity. "Nobody left the shop in Taughmaconnell without getting something," Stephen said.
Mary and her husband Michael Joe had two sons - Brendan and Kevin. Michael Joe died in 1982 and since 2004 Mary has called Brideswell Nursing home her home. Though the ripe old age of 100, Stephen said his aunt is still "very alert, feeble but alert". "If you told her something yesterday she'd remember it today," he said. Mary's constant companion is the radio, which Stephen says she turns off "only when she's saying her prayers". She also loves to reminisce about her youth spent in Offaly he said. As recently as a month ago he said she spoke to him about her own father's funeral, with his body brought to Clonmacnoise by boat as there was no road at the time.
Celebrations are also set to continue Stephen said. "She's not finished at all yet," he laughed. "They're holding a Mass in St Peter's in Athlone on Sunday, March 18, at 3pm then retiring to the McNeill home in Connaught Street where over 100 people will be gathered."