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Ravenhill nursing home closure: 'I thought I would have peace and been able to live the rest of my days here'

At 100 years old, Jeannie McMurran is the oldest resident at Ravenhill nursing home in Greenisland. She looks back on an extraordinary life as she faces the alarming prospect of finding somewhere new to live following the announcement of the facility's closure


Jean McMurran at Ravenhill Private Nursing Care Home in Greenisland

Jean McMurran at Ravenhill Private Nursing Care Home in Greenisland

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Jean McMurran at Ravenhill Private Nursing Care Home in Greenisland

My biological name is Sarah Jane Shaw - I was named after my two grannies - and I was born just below Ballymena on December 6, 1919.

I was the eldest of three and I am currently 100 years old.

My brother Tommy worked on the coal lorries during the war and then later in life worked in Courtaulds.

My sister Lily, called after our aunt, unfortunately contracted TB and died at 18 years old. We all had our moments but generally we got along.

Before Lily was born, my family and I moved to Carrickfergus as my father, called Robert, got a job on the railway.

I didn't know much about my daddy as he was a hard worker - I can only remember him working.

My father was the quieter out of my parents, my mother, Nelly, was a bit quick tempered.

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She stayed at home and raised the children.

She loved to knit - she knit long johns too as there was no money back then, and she was also a great baker.

She would make soda bread, wheaten bread, potato bread, scones and pancakes - back then you had to fend for yourself.

My grandmother Agnes was a great baker too.

I remember she had a big pot she would have made teacakes in and she put it on a hook over the fire with red turf on top of the lid, which helped it cook through the top and bottom.

I went to Joymount School and I wasn't too fussed on it, but we had to go.

We didn't have a uniform, we were just lucky we had clothes to wear.

I didn't have a favourite subject, I wasn't that bright but I got through.

My headmaster was Mr Wright and my teachers were Miss McDermott and Miss McAlister. Mr Wright was very bad tempered - he took a dislike to one of the boys in my school, Tommy Simms.

Tommy was always in trouble, I remember when he threw an inkpot at Mr Wright's head.

Mr Wright kept a cane that he used right and often, I got hit with it on the hands. One of my good chums was May Lyle and we went to the pictures in Carrick and often took walks together.

One Sunday, we were out walking along Eden Road and we met these two fellas - one chose me and the other chose her.

My fella was Billy and we went on to marry when I was in my 20s.

It was war-time and it was very hard to get a house as they weren't building any, so we lived with my mother and father for a while.

I gave birth to my son Bobby a year after we married.

We eventually moved to Carnmoney and lived there until Billy was in an accident at work and was killed on the spot in a quarry.

I couldn't stay in Carnmoney after that and me and Bobby, who was 12 at the time, moved back in with my parents.

I was offered a flat in Sunnylands in Carrick and we moved in opposite Jack, who I went to school with, and we rekindled and eventually got married.

A few years later, when I was 40, along came my second child, Phillis.

Unfortunately, three years ago, Phillis suddenly passed away at the age of 58.

She never had any children.

Jack has also now unfortunately passed away, as has Bobby, who passed away almost two years ago.

I lived at home for 60 years before coming into the Ravenhill Private Nursing Care Home.

My hobbies when I was younger were cleaning the house and I also liked to knit wee jumpers and socks for the kids.

I also enjoyed embroidery and I baked every week up until I was on my own.

I have never been a big drinker but I try to drink a few cups of tea a day.

My favourite flower would be a pink carnation, although my eyesight isn't the best anymore and I can't see them.

I never drove, but when I was with Jack we travelled to England and Scotland on holiday and once over to Italy.

I have lived at Ravenhill for almost two years and I'm very settled and happy here, I've made many friends in the staff and residents.

I thought I would have been at peace and able to spend the rest of my days here.

I'm not worried about myself because I am 100 and won't be around much longer - it's the staff and other residents I am worried about.

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