Death of Maud Nicholl (110) closing of an era, Co Antrim funeral told
Ireland's oldest woman Maud Nicholl has been laid to rest following a service of thanksgiving held in her home town of Ballymena.
Maud passed away in her sleep at Glenkeen nursing home in Randalstown last Thursday at the age of 110.
Mourners gathered at Alan Francey's Funeral Church where the congregation heard Rev Alistair Bates describe Maud as a woman of "faith, character and substance".
He said: "We have much to celebrate as we look back on so many memories and so many occasions that Maud could share with other people.
"While today is a sad day because it is the closing of an era, it is also a day where we can be grateful; grateful for a long life, a full, happy life that blessed so many other people and a life we will think about long after today.
"I have often said of my oldest parishioner, not because she was old at 110, although that is very old, but I enjoyed who she was at 110.
"She had not lost her personality, she had not lost her giftedness, she had not lost her sense of humour.
"The Maud Nicholl that you grew up with was still Maud Nicholl until the Lord decided in His grace to bring her home.
"I remember not just her length of years but the quality of those years, and while there is natural mourning today, it is a day for thankfulness that she was given so much and that she gave so much and that is what we will remember.
"Maud Nicholl, who lived more than three score years and 10, who saw the world change decade after decade but never seemed to fear it, nor did it overwhelm her.
"Maud Nicholl who, confronted with the natural demise of her body, could still smile and indeed laugh and enjoy the company of those around her."
Rev Bates reminded the congregation that Maud had been a published poet and recalled one particular humorous prose she had penned in the run-up to her 90th birthday entitled Life Begins At Ninety, in which she asked God to let her live until she was 100 so that she could receive her telegram from the Queen.
He added: "What an active mind, what a great talent, what a great lady that we are paying tribute to today.
"When we think of Maud's life there are so many things we could spend a long time reflecting upon. All the changes she would have witnessed over those years, yet she remained consistent in her character.
"Although the world had changed a lot, Maud still brought to it that sense of intrigue and discovery and humour and strength of character that encouraged us in our days when we were feeling under the weather or sad, and her smile and her appreciation of life around her would have lifted anyone's spirits."
Rev Bates spoke of Ms Nichol's deep faith in God and how as a child she learnt chapters from the Gospel by heart that she could still recite.
He added: "The Lord had been her rock, her refuge in times of trouble and when the moment came, Jesus reached down and said: 'Maud, it is time for home.'"