independent

Friday 20 October 2017

Wexford lady was just four days from becoming Ireland's oldest resident

By David tucker

Katie (above and left) never learned to drive but was adept on the High Nelly and the more modern bicycles which followed it.
Katie (above and left) never learned to drive but was adept on the High Nelly and the more modern bicycles which followed it.
Katie (above and left) never learned to drive but was adept on the High Nelly and the more modern bicycles which followed it.
Katie in 2008 at her 100th birthday.

a COUNTY Wexford woman has died at the age of 108, four days before she would have become Ireland's oldest citizen.

Katie Nolan, from Dungeer and late of Camross, Taghmon, who was born on September 29, 1908, died on Friday, December 23, four days before the death of Connemara woman Sarah Clancy, who was born on May 2, 1908, and who was officially Ireland's oldest person.

'She was almost the oldest person in Ireland,' said a relative, who attributed Katie's long life to her hard-working ethos, although the fact that like Sarah Clancy she never married may have been a factor.

Katie was born to Margaret (Marget) nee Gorman and Denis Nolan of Oldtown, Camross and was one of seven children and sister of Paddy, Martin, Mary (Polly), Robert, Andy and Denis.

Martin died aged 21 in 1936 after being kicked by her horse, while her only surviving sibling, her youngster brother Denis, now aged 88, lives in London. Her godson Denny Nolan, of The Lane, Camross, died a little over a year ago, aged 91.

Her brother Paddy was born in 1910 and died in 2001, aged 91; Polly was born in 1916 and died in 1981; Robert was born in 1919 and died in 2000 at the age of 81; and Andy, born in 1920, died in 2012.

Katie was educated at Carroreigh National School and after leaving school went to work in her Uncle Mike's drapery shop in Mountrath, County Laois, and it was here that she probably developed her love and expertise in sewing and knitting. Some years later, she returned to help on the family farm in Camrosss, where she was known as a hard working woman who looked after the horses and was always in demand when it came time to do the threshing in the fields.

She never learned to drive, but was adept on a High Nelly and the more modern bicycles which followed it. Katie took up a job at Hadden's Department store in Wexford town before opting for a career change to work as a housekeeper for a Mrs Nancy O'Connor, at Springfarm, Enniscorthy, followed by time as a housekeeper for Blackwater PP Fr Cummins.

She was obviously highly regarded and got the prestigious job as housekeeper to Dutch Baroness Van Zuylen van Nyevelt at Park House before moving on to work at Mena House in Killiney.

When she retired in 1984 she went to live with her niece Peg Brady (nee McEvoy) in Dublin, before returning to Enniscorthy to become a carer and companion to her former employer Mrs O'Connor.

In 2000, she moved back to Dungeer to live with her nephew Mick McEvoy and while there, and at 97 years of age, suffered a fracture that led her to seek fulltime nursing care.

Her nephew Paddy Nolan said his aunt was well known for her green fingers, which extended to both growing flowers and crops and was often to be seen out digging sets for potatoes.

'She was never down and worked incredibly hard all her life. She was a great woman for hard work. She didn't like waste of any kind and when people came over to visit in Camross and were offered a cup of tea she would say "what do they want tea for",' said Paddy.

In her latter years she became deaf and totally blind, yet her mind was sharp, almost to the end of her life.

Speaking at Katie's well attended Requiem Mass at St Garvan's Church, Carroreigh, Fr Robert McGuire said he never had the pleasure of meeting her and, commenting on her long life, he said she would have been 42 when he was born.

Katie is sadly missed by her family, nephews, nieces, relatives and all her friends and staff at Oakfield nursing home in Courtown. She was buried at Kilgarvan Cemetery following the Mass.

Wexford People

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