Fr Richie Davern shows Bridie Fitzgerald her baptismal register
BRIDIE Fitzgerald was never a drinker or a smoker but she celebrated her 100th birthday in style with a champagne breakfast in Caherass Nursing Home.
It was followed by a special online mass celebrated by Fr Richie Davern, a visit from her daughter Mary Cronin and later her son Joe and a socially distanced visit from her many friends including all her friends in Mungret Senior Citizens club.
It was a fitting celebration of a life well-lived by a lady born in Athea but who made Mungret her home.
Daughter Mary said her mother’s 100th birthday was the first time they had been able to visit her mum in months following the slight easing of nursing home restrictions.
“It was very emotional but she had a lovely day. Fr Richie made the Mass so personal and special. It was clear he had put a huge amount of work into it - he had a big banner erected outside the church and brought her baptismal register from Athea which showed she was baptised on the same day she was born - March 26, 1921,” said Mary, one of three of Bridie and the late Joe’s children along with Ada Fitzgerald Nilsson and Joe Fitzgerald.
Bridie also has four loving grandchildren - Lorraine, Carol Ann, Brian and Richard and two great-grand children, George and Katie in New Zealand.
“At 2pm, the Mungret Senior Citizens club arrived in their cars and tooted their horns. They had banners and balloons on the side of their cars and sang happy birthday. Mum was at the window waving out.
“She couldn’t praise the residents and staff of Caherass Nursing Home enough. She had a lovely day,” said Mary, who also thanked Fr Davern and everyone who sent good wishes to her mum from far and near.
Fr Davern said Bridie is a “real lady” with a “nice, gentle presence”.
“Her faith is very important to her. During Lent last year she arrived up to confession aged 99. I gave out to her because it was a cold night! She came to Mass every Saturday night and during the summer last year when we could have small gatherings,” said Fr Davern.
As well as getting the happy birthday banner erected outside the church, the priest also went to the trouble of getting Bridie’s baptism register from her home parish of Athea.
“I thought it would be interesting to have the book on the sanctuary when we were celebrating the Mass. I thought she would have another celebration - the 100th anniversary of her baptism but as it transpired she was baptised the day she was born,” said Fr Davern, who brought the book to Caherass and showed it to Bridie through the window. He also organised for a copy to be given to her.
Fr Davern also discovered that the last person to celebrate their 100th birthday in the parish of Mungret, Crecora, Raheen was Jim Garvey, who died in 1990 aged 102. Prior to that it was a Margaret Fitzgerald, from Ballysheedy, who married a Michael Fitzgerald from Red House Hill, Patrickswell.
“Michael was the uncle of Bridie’s husband Joe. Thus, the last two women in the parish to reach 100 were married to an uncle and nephew,” said Fr Davern.
He said there was a great reaction in the parish as they celebrated their oldest and dearest parishioner, Bridie Fitzgerald.