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Just what is 106-year-old Brigid's secret to a long and happy life? Forget men... they're a nuisance

By Rebecca Black

Published 29/05/2015

Brigid Devlin, now aged 106
Brigid Devlin, now aged 106
Brigid Devlin as a young nurse

Brigid Devlin's secret to a long life? Never get married.

The former nurse has just celebrated her 106th birthday and is believed to be Northern Ireland's third oldest resident.

Not one for convention, Brigid worked into her 80s and, astonishingly, lived independently until she was 104, when she decided it was time to be looked after and moved into Moneymore Care Home.

Brigid was born in the Co Londonderry village in 1909 but lived most of her life on the other side of the world - in New York working as a nurse.

She even nursed former US President John F Kennedy back to health after he broke his leg.

When asked the secret to her longevity, she said it was due to the fact that she never married.

In response to a question from a reporter with the Mid Ulster Mail over whether she should get married, Brigid replied: "No, no... men are a nuisance, that's all."

Brigid was born in the same year as legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby, although he died at the age of 84 in 1994.

The Derry woman was three years old when Titanic set out on her ill-fated journey across the Atlantic. She was five when the First World War broke out, fundamentally changing British society forever.

It was the height of the Roaring Twenties when Brigid left rural Northern Ireland for the Big Apple, where she has spent most of her life.

The then teenager made a new home for herself at an apartment on East 55th Street, close to Central Park and the sought after Upper East Side, and lived there for most of her life.

She would have been a confident young woman at the age of 30 when the Second World War broke out and young GIs made the reverse journey that she had to train in Northern Ireland in preparation for the D-Day landings, among other battles. Brigid continued working in New York as a nurse until she was in her 80s, when she returned to her home village.

She lived independently until an illness when she was 104.

These days she enjoys a cup of coffee in the afternoon, is an early riser and likes to listen to Irish country music.

Moneymore Care Home activity therapist Jane McIlwrath said Brigid was in better health than some people in their 70s.

"She's in general good health, for someone of 106 she looks well," Ms McIlwrath said.

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