Belfast Telegraph

‘A real character who loved her fashion’ - tributes to former nurse May after she passes away at 107

Mary Agnes O’Hagan, who was known as May
Mary Agnes O’Hagan, who was known as May
Mary Agnes O’Hagan, who was known as May, celebrating her 107th birthday
Mary Agnes O’Hagan with friends and family
Mary Agnes O’Hagan
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A former nurse from Co Down who has died at the age of 107 has been remembered as "a very special person".

Mary Agnes O'Hagan, known as May, was born on March 22, 1912, less than a fortnight before Titanic left Belfast.

She had enjoyed good health until recent months, but passed away peacefully on Tuesday evening at River House Care Home in Newcastle, Co Down, with her granddaughter Eimear and two members of staff at her bedside.

Her funeral was held yesterday in Our Lady of The Assumption church in Newcastle, with burial in St Patrick's Cemetery, Bryansford.

River House manager Stephanie Moore-Archer said Mrs O'Hagan was an "inspiration" who had experienced tragedy twice in her youth before raising two sons, Eddie and Patsy, and living independently until the age of 102.

"We had just had a really fantastic party for her," she said.

"A quartet came to sing to her and she had a great time. We feel she was holding on for the birthday before the end. She was a very special person."

Sign In

At the age of eight, Mrs O'Hagan lost her mother to childbirth and was raised by her grandparents.

She was later widowed in her early 20s, losing her husband Patrick after less than two years of marriage as the couple were expecting their second child.

Her career as a nurse saw her work at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick and a private care clinic on the Malone Road.

Ms Moore-Archer said the staff and residents at River House would remember Mrs O'Hagan for her humour and style.

She added: "She was a real character, she liked her fashion.

"On her 106th birthday she wouldn't let the Mourne Observer take photos of her until she had put on her dress and high heels.

"She's an inspiration to everybody, such a lovely woman. Always so happy and positive, a real pleasure to have her here in River House."

At one point her own son Eddie, aged in his 80s, joined her as a fellow resident.

"Before he came, the hospital called and said: 'We think he's very confused because he said he'd like to come to River House because his mummy's there'. But we had to tell them he was absolutely right."

Her other son Patsy lived in Canada, but still visited every year.

"She also called her granddaughter Eimear, the daughter she never had and they were very close," Ms Moore-Archer said.

"She was a tiny woman, like a wee doll and had a real hearty giggle when she told her stories from her life.

"As she had been a nurse herself, if you didn't make the bed right she would joke: 'What kind of nurse are you?'

"Today we're really celebrating such an amazing life as well as being sad. We're happy she had a wonderful life and was cared for right up until her last breath."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph