The centenary of the Titanic disaster will soon be marked — but for one family it won’t be the only important anniversary next month.
Isabella Young was born hours after the liner sank in 1912, and will celebrate her 100th birthday at the same time the loss is remembered across Northern Ireland.
Born in Woodvale in west Belfast, it’s only now, with the centenary of Titanic’s sinking and her own centenary approaching, that the enormity of the maritime tragedy has become apparent.
“I’ve heard a lot about it on the television, but there was very little talked about it in my day,” Isabella said. “I don’t remember it being discussed as I was growing up. It wasn’t really mentioned.”
After leaving school Isabella worked at a shoe business and was later employed in the kitchens at Royal Belfast Academical Institution. She retired and lived at home up until 11 years ago when, aged nearly 90, she moved into residential care.
Isabella has lived through two World Wars, the Troubles and a host of other landmark historical events.
She escaped unhurt when a Luftwaffe bomb landed just feet from her house — an attack which killed three members of the family next door. “My sister’s house had also been bombed,” she added.
With a remarkable memory and engaging personality, Isabella shows few signs she is nearly 100. Last year she starred in an advertising billboard campaign promoting elderly awareness.
So how does she explain her longevity?
“I was very active — I used to walk miles every day,” she explained.
“I didn’t drink or smoke and I went to church every Sunday.
“I also had a very good husband. He was called Edward and we were married on April 14, 1936.”
Isabella loves sport — rugby, golf, snooker and bowls — adding: “I like that Rory McIlroy, he’s a lovely young man.”
And her favourite newspaper is the Belfast Telegraph. “I wouldn’t be without my Tele,” she said. “I read it every day.”
Isabella prefers not to mention hitting three figures, joking: “Ah, I’m just 21 and a bit.”