Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

A word from Eileen

Mrs Eileen Nutt, a smiling centurion who is looking forward to receiving her letter from the Queen
SONY DSC

With 100 years of living in south Belfast under her belt today, Mrs Eileen Nutt took the time out from her centenary celebrations to talk to the CT and share a few of her memoirs.

Mrs Nutt said: “I had previously lived in Donegall Avenue for almost 99 years.

“When I was a little girl we would go to the Bog Meadows and play. The boys would pick up the clay from the muddy ground and throw it at each other.

“We also dug trenches out our back and would play hide and seek. We often hid in the chicken houses. Most families in the street had one of them behind their house. We would also collect the stalks of rhubarb and hang them up on the wall and pretend that we owned a shop.”

Mrs Nutt’s first job was helping a dressmaker. After that she was employed to carry out market research asking people what television programmes they liked to watch. She also worked in a nursery school looking after children during the second world war.

The blitz of Belfast is something she never forgets. She said: “No one expected Belfast to be bombed. Women and children were running up the street not knowing what to do.

“We first hid under the stairs, what we would call the coal house — because that is where we would keep the bags of coal for the fire. We were then told to go and stay under the Tates Avenue Bridge with about 20 other families while air raids took place.

“It was frightening, those days were frightening. But they were good days all the same.”

Mrs Nutts’ son Ernie, who is now 8o years old, supported his mother’s comments of what life was like during the war.

He said: “I remember my mother making us a sandwich with parsnips and some banana essence. That was our version of a banana sandwich as we couldnot get bananas because of the rations and everything.”

A small ceremony will take place this morning (Thursday) for Mrs Nutt when she will be presented with a letter from the Queen. It will be followed by birthday celebrations with her family and friends.

And finally, the CT couldn’t resist asking what was the secret to a long life. Mrs Nutt exclaimed: “Hard work! Hard work and motherhood!”

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