Two hale and hearty hundred year-olds celebrated

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Happy 100 birthday: Bridget Allen and John Lenihan blow out their candles. Picture: Adrian Butler
Proving that it is a glass of milk a day, and not an apple, that keeps the doctor away are the hundred year-old mother and father of two Limerick ICMSA men.

Proving that it is a glass of milk a day, and not an apple, that keeps the doctor away are the hundred year-old mother and father of two Limerick ICMSA men.

John Lenihan is the father of Limerick ICMSA chairman, Michael, and Bridget Allen is mother of former ICMSA president, Frank.

Michael and family members drove John to the Allen home in Knocklong for the celebration last Thursday. Both are incredibly well in mind and body and are looked after in their own homes by family and CareBright staff.

Local history was made in the sitting room in Knocklong when happy birthday was sung to the two centenarians.

“It was unique to have the two of them together. We take it for granted because we are around them every day but everybody else is fascinated to meet someone who is 100 years-old,” said Michael.

Both Michael and Frank put their father and mother’s long-life down to their active lives working on farms in Anglesboro and Galbally.

Neither smoked but they still enjoy the occasional drop of whiskey or brandy.

An excellent footballer, John played with Anglesboro, Galtee Rovers, Limerick minors and was selected for the seniors.

“He survived the War of Independence, Civil War, First and Second World Wars and the battles against Ballylanders and Galbally! In those times the build-up to matches would be about three months,” smiled Michael.

John won county medals in 1932 and 1942 and played on the great Mick Mackey in 1939.

“They had a great battle,” said Michael.

John’s grandfather, John Condon, lived to be 96 in an era of no medication so there is certainly good genes. He can even remember his grandfather telling him stories about the famine. And John can recall the day the Black and Tans ransacked the family home looking for men involved in an ambush in the locality.

John and his late wife Breda had five children and there are 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Fourteen-month-old Logan and his great-grandad get on famously and Logan had a big kiss for John.

He has a great phrase: “If you owe money, you don’t own your life.”

John built houses and with the proceeds bought a farm - all with cash.

“He never borrowed a penny. He always saved the money,” said Michael.

In the 1940s John was one of the first men in the locality to buy a jeep.

“There would be about 20 lads in the back with their feet hanging over the edge going to matches. One time the brakes didn’t work and he drove all over Cork city with no brakes,” said Michael.

While still very active with his walker today amazingly John would climb into his son’s tractor upto five years ago. A special Mass and party was held for John last week and all wished him a happy birthday.

Slightly older is Bridget Allen, originally from Knockagarry, Mitchelstown, who celebrated her 100th birthday last month. She and her late husband Frank had one son, also Frank, and there are three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“She was always physically active - milking cows and feeding calves. She kept hens, ducks, geese, turkeys and would have milked cows by hand before we got a bucket plant in the 1960s in Ballinamona, Galbally,” said Frank, a former Limerick and national ICMSA president

A very well read and forward thinking lady, Bridget was ahead of her time.

“She took vitamins before anyone had heard of them and adopted medical experts advice on a balanced diet,” said Frank.

Like John, Bridget is in excellent health and even read the letter from President Michael D Higgins without glasses.

The two ICMSA men, who look after their loved ones with their respective wives Sheila and Ann and families, also praise CareBright staff for their assistance in looking after their loved ones in their homes.

CareBright’s marketing manager, Maria Desmond said how honoured the carers and management were to join in the celebration of such a special occasion.

“It was a real privilege to witness the warm feelings and mutual respect shown between our carers and the Allen and Lenihan families. Heartfelt congratulations to them both,” said Ms Desmond.