Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's oldest woman Maud (109) reveals secret of long life

By Christine Carrigan

Maud Nicholl made history yesterday when she celebrated her 109th birthday - becoming the oldest woman in Northern Ireland.

Despite her age the Ballymena native shows no signs of slowing down and has maintained her cheeky sense of humour.

Maud, who was born in 1909, arrived to her birthday party in the Tullyglass Hotel in style, stepping out of a white Jaguar. When asked how it felt to be 109, she joked that we all needed to go back to school, because she couldn't possibly be that age - but did say that she was very happy to have reached the milestone.

Posing for photos outside the hotel with her family and friends, Maud scolded the cameraman for not giving her time to fix her hair.

As the flash went off, she shouted "Wait - my hair", as she ran her hands through it, with a twinkle in her eye.

In the years since Maud was born she has seen four Kings and one Queen on the throne, 26 different Prime Ministers and nine Irish Presidents. She has lived through two World Wars, the sinking of the Titanic, votes being given to women, and men walking on the Moon.

When asked what her secret to a long life was, she said: "I don't know. I was always quite happy and I never worried too much."

And asked what her advice would be for longevity, Maud said: "Just do the best you can every day and trust in God."

Maud, who never married, worked in a bank for a short time before returning to the family home to look after her father and brother after her mother died.

Despite her age, she still lives independently at her home in Ballymena and is a keen gardener. She said: "I am quite happy. I like a nice big garden and I still have it and I still work in it. My father liked to garden and we used to do it together."

She has a close circle of family and friends who call in on her daily for a cup of tea and a chat. DUP councillor Beth Adger has known Maud for 30 years and described her as an "absolute gem who is so funny and is always smiling".

Maud's second cousin and next of kin, Maureen Luke, has been looking after her since 1999.

Talking about her life with Maud, she reflected on fond memories and said that Maud was from a very happy background.

Maureen said: "I have known Maud from I was a little girl.

"She was from a very happy home.

"I once asked her if she was ever in love and she replied with a smirky smile: 'Maybe, I don't remember'. So the man couldn't have meant much!"

On her 108th birthday, Maud had said: "I never married, I was friendly with the odd one when I was young, but I never took them too seriously."

But this year her cousin Jean Bell joked that she was now in the market for a "fancy man".

Belfast Telegraph

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