STAFF at Thorpe’s nursing home in Clarina have celebrated another milestone in the long life of Annie Kett, the second oldest person in Ireland, who has turned 107.
Hard work, simple living and a strong faith are the secrets to longevity, according to those who know Annie best. Family, friends and carers celebrated with birthday cake and best wishes were also received from President Michael D Higgins.
Ireland didn’t have a president - King Edward VII was head of state - when Annie Hayes was born in The Glen, Killaloe, in 1905. One of six children, she attended the local school and emigrated to England in the 1920s to train as a nurse.
She returned to her native County Clare in the mid-1930s and married Kilkishen farmer John Kett in 1937 - the year of De Valera’s constitution.
“She would have worked on the farm for many years and raised a family of three of us,” said her daughter Margaret Courtney.
John Kett died in the early 70s and Annie lived with Margaret near Askeaton for around 30 years before moving in at Thorpe’s.
“Her general health is still quite good for her years. She lives away and I get to see her every day,” said Margaret.
“She was a woman who over the years didn’t need a lot of care. She wanted to be active. If you were ever to tell her you were going out somewhere, she would say ‘Well I’m going too’. She would insist on it,” said Margaret.
Director of care at Thorpe’s Mary O’Shea said Annie had worked hard on the farm over many years and lived simply, factors which may have helped her live so long.
“People in those days got a lot more exercise. There were no cars so I suppose they had to walk and cycle everywhere,” she said.
Annie is the oldest resident the nursing home has cared for but Thorpe’s has seen its fair share of centenarians.
“We had somebody who was 103 before and we’ve had about ten 100s in the ten years I’ve been here. People are living longer I suppose with the medication and care they get these days. They say a girl born today will live to be over 100,” said Ms O’Shea.
Ireland’s oldest person is Laois woman Mary Kate Byrne, who celebrated her 108th birthday in August of this year.