Cassie Sweeney

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Cassie Sweeney will celebrate her 108th birthday tomorrow as part of a dual celebration at the Rock Welfare Home in Ballyshannon. Cassie, a native of Kilcar, will turn 108 soon while Ellen Barron from Carrick turned 100 last Thursday.

Reaching these remarkable ages is certainly worthy of a party as both women are still in remarkably good health.

“The amazing thing about this is that both ladies grew up within four miles of each other. It’s either down to the lives they led in their native towns or there is something in the water here!, “ adds Patty McCrea, matron of the home, with a sense of pride. “It will be a special occasion here tomorrow and we are expecting a crowd.”

Patty, who took over as matron, in 1986 goes on to detail the lives of both women.

“Cassie was born on October 6 1894 and got married in 1929 to Dominic Sweeney. He passed away a good few (59) years ago and she had no family. She is a self taught woman and can still read without her glasses. She loves getting the local paper every week and wouldn’t be without it.

“She maintains that the key to her long life is being happy in herself. She is great at helping out other patients and is always worried about others around her. Patty also recalled that for her 100th birthday the people of Killcar came up to visit her and there was even a pipe band up from the village.

Ellen is of a quieter disposition than Cassie, continued Patty. “She was living with her brother and when he passed away she came here. She wasn’t married. But she hasn’t a care in the world and reached her 100th birthday in style. She received a letter of congratulations from Mary McAleese on the day which really pleased her.”

Both women came here at the same time in 1987, and it’s great that they are still together after 15 years and hopefully for many more, she added.“Surely at 108, this must make Cassie the oldest woman in Ireland, if not the oldest person in Ireland?” asks Patty, eager to check out the fact.The home caters for 35 people and Patty added: “It is our firm belief that this should be a place centred around the people here and we do our best for them.”