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‘She was a celebrity here to us’ – Funeral of Ireland’s oldest person Bridget Tierney (108) hears of ‘wonderful mother’

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Ms Tierney died in the loving care of her family on Wednesday, having lived through the 1916 Rising, two world wars as well as two pandemics, the Spanish Flu and the Coronavirus, a century apart.

Mourners gathered at St Joseph’s Church in Loughduff, Co Cavan, for the Funeral Mass of Ms Tierney, a mother of nine, a grandmother of 30, great-grandmother of 49 and great-great-grandmother of four.

“For us living in the parish here, she was a celebrity,” said parish priest Father PJ Hughes.

He described her funeral Mass as a sad occasion as she was a mother and “no matter how long a mother lives it is sad for the family when she dies” as each member reflects on their final memory with Ms Tierney.

One of 30 grandchildren, Sarah, shed light on Ms Tierney who she described as a “cherished granny”, by reciting a poem she had written, something she had done many times when growing up.

“When it comes to a mammy or granny, you were always second to none. You were the centre of our worlds, we thought you would always be there,” she began.

She told how Ms Tierney would sit in her “beautiful” kitchen in her cosy chair and that all who entered into her home were greeted with her “kind smile” a kiss on the hand and “God bless you.”

Children would come and go, run around and colour, and she would “never give out or shout, once we were happy,” her grandchild Sarah told.

“We were blessed to have you in our lives, there truly was no other,” she added.

Ms Tierney’s son Tom thanked Father Hughes, who prayed with her regularly as well as the many carers that came to the home over several decades to look after his mother.

He recalled how she became so fond of one such carer, Margaret, that anyone else that was there was brushed aside when she walked through the door.

He said he was astounded to see the number of people that called to the house over the last few days for “such a simple person as granny.”

Ms Tierney never drank alcohol or smoked, only ate home-cooked fresh food, was never on an aeroplane and always had a love of politics and even could remember walking to Granard as a child to hear Michael Collins speaking.

“I have voted in every election since I got my vote, and I am proud of that,” Ms Tierney had said.

After being widowed in 1983, she decided to work as hard as her husband Patrick on the farm, with her daughter Kitty previously describing her as “a tower of strength to us all.”

A prayer book and rosary beads were brought to the altar to symbolise her strong faith, having spent most of her life in the front of her kitchen praying every day.

Ms Tierney’s love of nature was symbolised by bird food, which was brought to the altar. Mourners heard how she had a variety of bird feeders placed around her garden and used to love watching birds of all sizes and species from the kitchen.

Ms Tierney was particularly overjoyed when close to 40 doves flew into the garden and up towards her window sill, however on one occasion, she had to call her son Tom to remove a murder of crows who arrived.

A cup of porridge oats were brought to the altar. She started each day with a big cup of porridge, reflecting “one of her secrets to a long and healthy life.”

Ms Tierney’s crown topper was also brought to the altar, which she wore to keep her “beautiful hair in place” mourners heard, becoming her “signature item of clothing.”

A family tree was also brought up as the final symbol representing her long and fruitful life.

“As we know, granny was at the centre of such a wide and wonderful family. She has left an amazing legacy and it is now all our jobs to ensure she lives on in how we live our daily lives and ensure the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” mourners heard.

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