Only for the birthday cake spelling it out it is hard to believe Bridget Harding, Pallasgreen, is 100 – she certainly doesn’t look it Picture: Dave Gaynor
YOU can forget about eating your five-a-day, drinking lots of water and exercise – the secret to a long life is a game of bingo.
Four nights a week, Bridget Harding, from Dromlara, Pallasgreen can be found with her pen poised over a card. She celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends in the local community centre on Saturday last after a special Mass.
One of her daughters, Joan jokes that she is the one who is “worn-out”.
“She is getting better all the time and I am just exhausted! Every day she says to me, ‘What is on today and what are we doing today? She is a great character,” said Joan.
Bridget plays bingo in Oola on Tuesday night, Pallasgreen on Wednesday, Cappamore on Thursday and Tipperary on Sunday. And if she forgets her glasses it is no problem.
“She does wear glasses but if she didn’t have them it wouldn’t be a great hardship to her. She could still read the paper and her bingo numbers,” said Joan. All the bingo committees made a presentation to her.
Joan can’t remember the last time her mum missed a night. Bridget says, in a fine strong voice, “I’ll keep going to bingo as long as I’m always able to walk”.
Bridget met her future husband, Oola man Paddy Harding at a local dance. In 1942, during World War II, she went to London to find employment and worked as a housekeeper in the presbytery of St Agnes Church, Cricklewood.
Six years later she married Paddy in London. In 1954, Bridget returned to Dromlara and reared a family of six children, Patrick, Bernadette, Joan, Marian, Seamus and Breda.
In a sign of the economic times, Paddy continued to work in England, and travel back and forth during holidays, until 1972. Sadly six years later he passed away aged 54. In 2004, her son Seamus passed away at another young age.
Bridget is very popular in her parish, across east Limerick and is adored by her family, 15 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
The generous lady even used her cheque for €2,540 from President Michael D Higgins to contribute towards her party. The size of the crowd at the Mass and celebration reflected the esteem Bridget is held.
“I’m very proud of all my family – they’re very good to me,” said Bridget, who agrees that being so sociable and her love of meeting people has slowed down the hands of time.
The Leader asked her to reflect on her long life on this earth and knowing what she knows now – is there anything she would have done differently?
“No, I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Bridget. What a lovely way to be.
She never smoked a cigarette in her life apart from when she was a young girl and pretended to by rolling up pieces of paper.
Her words of advice are, ‘Keep off the drink and smoking. Take each day as it comes and do your best for each day”. While the great grandmother wasn’t a pioneer it would take a special occasion for a glass of Baileys, port or wine to pass her lips.
Bridget’s two favourite sayings are “God has no place for me yet” and “l’ll live long as I can and I’ll die when I can’t help it”.
See page 17 of Leader 2 for more photographs