Belfast Telegraph

Julia’s still in fine tune as she enjoys 105th birthday

By Donna Deeney

A woman who is one of the oldest people in Ireland celebrated her 105th birthday by entertaining guests at her party by singing and playing the mouth organ.

Julia McAteer is now a resident at Nazareth House Nursing home in Fahan in Co Donegal, but previously she lived alone outside Rathmullan in a tiny one-roomed house she called home for 104 years — 90 of these without running water or electricity.

Julia is registered in the 1911 Census of Ireland as a three-year-old, confirming her 1908 birthday, leaving her younger only than Luke Dolan from Roscommon and Elizabeth Heaney from Ballynahinch, who are both 107 years old.

Julia credits her longevity to her hardy lifestyle and an abiding interest in everything going on around her, insisting that shop bought just isn't as good as home grown.

She said: “No one farms any more, they go to the shop for everything, and sure what good is that if you don't have money.

“Farming your own, that's what keeps you going. I kept the cows for milk and I made my own butter and grew potatoes, and sure there is nothing as nice.’’

She was in fine form and looking forward to her party yesterday.

“I have a birthday cake and I will get a bit of that and I will sing A Mother's Love Is A Blessing and Out In A Moonlight Garden.

“I might play Shoe The Donkey on the mouth organ, but I am too old to dance these days.”

Julia was thriving in all the attention she was receiving from three generations of her family who joined the staff of Nazareth House to mark the occasion.

Among them was her great-great niece Meadh Ni Dhuine, who despite the 86-year age gap, spends hours enthralled by Julia.

Meadh said: “I love coming to see Julia and listening to all her tales, she is a great storyteller.

“I grew up with all mod cons including mobile phones but Julia had neither running water in her wee house nor electricity.”

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