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100th birthday of a woman steeped in the region

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 7th March, 2012 5:35pm

100th birthday of a woman steeped in the region

Fr Sean Neylon pictured with Mrs Mary Flynn who celebrated her 100th Birthday with her friend Maggie Kelly aged 100 years who is also a resident at Brideswell Nursing Home

Ballinahown native Mary Flynn celebrated the beginning of the month with a very special birthday.

Last Thursday, March 1, Mary marked her 100th birthday surrounded by about 70 family, friends and fellow nursing home guests.

Mary worked for years in John McNeill's on Athlone's Connaught Street and lived in Taughmaconnell with her family before moving to Brideswell Nursing Home in 2004,

A family celebration followed last Saturday and according to Mary's nephew Stephen McNeill the party isn't over yet.

"She's not finished at all yet," he laughed. "They're holding a Mass in St Peter's in Athlone on Sunday, March 18 at 3pm, then retiring to the McNeill home in Connaught Street where over 100 people will be gathered."

Born in Curraghbui in the parish of Bloomhill just outside Ballinahown, Mary was the only daughter in the family of four other boys born to parents Martin McNeill and Margaret Flynn. "Her mother was a Flynn and Mary in turn married a Flynn," Stephen explained.

Mary spent the first 26 years of her life in Bloomhill, before marrying Taughmaconnell farmer, shopkeeper and postmaster Michael Joe Flynn in September 1938 and moving to the Roscommon village. She spent the four years leading up to her marriage working with her brother John McNeill, a publican, grocer and undertaker with a premises on Athlone's Connaught Street. While helping out in her husband's Taughmaconnell shop later, Stephen said his aunt became known for her generosity. "Nobody left the shop in Taughmaconnell without getting something," he said.

Michael Joe and Mary themselves had two sons, Brendan and Kevin. Mary witnessed the sad passing of her husband in 1982 and since 2004 has called Brideswell Nursing Home her home.

"She's very alert," Stephen said this week, "feeble but alert. If you told her something yesterday she'd remember it today." Stephen has been privileged to be present at the two birthday celebrations that have already taken place for his favourite (and only) aunt, and will himself host the March 18 party in Connaught Street. "On her birthday Eamonn " Cuiv was in the news and she knew all about it," he said, adding that Mary stays up to date with the radio that is her ever present companion. "She never turns off the radio only when she's saying her prayers," he said.