Belfast Telegraph

Ireland’s oldest woman Maud's day of laughter celebrating 110th birthday

Maud Nicholl celebrated her 110th birthday with family and friends at Glenkeen nursing home in Randalstown
Maud Nicholl celebrated her 110th birthday with family and friends at Glenkeen nursing home in Randalstown
Maud aged 21
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A Ballymena pensioner has received her latest birthday card from the Queen after celebrating her 110th birthday.

Maud Nicholl is believed to be Ireland's oldest person.

Yesterday she showed no signs of slowing down as she hosted a party and joked with the staff at Glenkeen nursing home in Randalstown surrounded by her family and friends.

The happy occasion was also attended by the Mid and East Antrim mayor Maureen Morrow.

In the month Maud was born, Louis Bleriot secured his place in history by becoming the first man to fly an aeroplane across the English Channel.

Since her birth in 1909 Maud has lived through the sinking of Titanic, the First World War, women getting the vote, the partition of Ireland, and the Second World War.

She's also seen no less than 26 UK Prime Ministers and nine Irish Presidents come and go, as well as four kings and a queen sitting on the throne.

At the age of 111 Alf Smith from Perth and Bob Weighton from Hampshire currently hold the joint title of oldest living man in the UK, sharing a birthday of March 29, 1908.

Gwen Payne from Kent is thought to be the oldest woman in the UK at 111 following the death of 112-year-old Grace Jones last month.

As a new member of the supercentenarian club of those aged 110 and over, Maud has previously put her long lifespan down to a mixture of gardening and God.

DUP councillor Beth Adger has known Ms Nicholl for over 30 years, and praised the popular Ballymena woman for her infectious laugh and good humour.

"She really had a great day. She was laughing, giggling, passing remarks on people before she just fell asleep in the middle of it all," she said.

Amazingly, Maud is a relatively new resident at Glenkeen, having lived independently in her own home until she suffered a fall six months ago.

"The doctors thought it was best for her to be in a home after that, but she gets on so well with staff," said Ms Adger.

"All her neighbours, family, church elders and her church minister attended."

She said Ms Nicholl was pleased to note that after several birthday letters, the Queen had finally changed her official photo in the card.

"Last year she asked why, with all her money, the Queen couldn't get a new outfit every year for the picture," she said.

"This year she finally has a new outfit and a lovely hat, which Maud thought was very nice.

"She's still in great form and in great health."

Asked what the secret was, she replied: "She's a good, clean Christian lady and always has been.

"She takes it all in her stride. She's really jolly and has such an infectious laugh."

Having never married, Maud worked in a bank for a time before coming back to her family home to care for her father and brother after the death of their mother.

Glenkeen manager Jackie McShane said it was a joy for the staff to mark the "tremendous milestone".

"It was such an excellent day with a great turnout," she said. "Maud is so witty and loves a good laugh and she really got in the party spirit.

"She actually said we're beginning to dote, and that she was really turning 99."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on her 108th birthday, Maud said she only ever had to visit the doctor once in her life for an antibiotic.

"I don't feel my age in the slightest, in fact I have never felt my age," she said at the time.

"When I see other people younger than me and I see how they are, I know how lucky I am.

"I have a great appetite and I can eat anything. I don't think I ever missed a meal."

Some of her fondest childhood memories, she said, were working with her father to tend vegetables in the family garden and going for long walks in the countryside. "I never had a bicycle. I was able to ride one, but I never got one, so I walked everywhere," she said.

"I never learned to drive. My brother had a car but he wouldn't trust me with it, so I never learned. He was very good and would take me out and take me anywhere I wanted to go.

"We would go out along the coast. I like Carnlough and the Glens of Antrim."

By the age of 16, she recalled a happy time working in Ballymena for a manufacturers.

"I never married, I was friendly with the odd one when I was young, but I never took them too seriously," she added.

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