Sr Dympna Carew



Jan 1997

President pays tribute to Sister Dympna, 107

Ireland’s oldest nun is celebrating her 107th birthday today in Capetown.

Dominican Sister Dympna Carew, of Dundrum, County Tipperary, has received greetings from President Mary Robinson.

A former maths, science and Latin teacher, she established one of the first multi-racial schools in South Africa before retiring in 1975 at the age of 85.

One of her sisters lived to 101. Another, Bede, is 94 and a member of the Dominicans in Capetown.

Cousin Dympna Hayes of Thurles, County Tipperary, said last night: “Sister Dympna is in excellent health.”



Jan 12 1999

Nun reaches birthday 109

A NUN who celebrated her 109th birthday last week is believed to be Ireland’s oldest living person. Sister Dympna Carew is the second member of her family to top 100. Her sister Kitty lived to 101 and another sister, Margaret, was only a few months short of 100 when she died.

The nun, from Dundrum, County Tipperary, has worked in South Africa for 84 years and her sister Bede, 97, is in the same Dominican order in Cape Town. Sister Dympna’s nieces Eileen and Josie are members of the Presentation Order in Dublin, and their brother Ned was principal of O’Connell Schools in Dublin.

Birthday party for nun, 109.

A RETIRED Mother Superior celebrated another year as the oldest person Irish person when she blew out 109 candles on her birthday cake.

As the nun puffed out the blaze on top of her cake, she vowed: “I’m going to live till I die.”

Sr Dympna Carew, who was born in 1890 in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, has made her home in South Africa where she has been a missionary since she was 25.

And while she has already lived in two centuries, she wants to make it a hat-trick by enjoying the new millennium.

The head of her convent in Capetown, Sr Giuseppe, said Sr Dympna was still hearty.

“She sits on a chair every day and sleeps and eats well.

“She can be most entertaining and knowledgeable especially about education.

“If you bring people to visit her you can rise her and when she’s in good form she can give you an earful.

“She recovered from a fall which had her hospitalised last year and has no real ailments.”

The order head said Sr Dympna was born in the same year Parnell fell in love with Kitty O’Shea and destroyed his hopes of a united Ireland.

And she came into the world just as the electric iron and fountain pens were invented.

Long life runs her the family – her sister, Sr Bede who also lives in the convent, has reached the grand old age of 96.




Feb 9 1999

Oldest Irish person dies, aged 109

Sister Dympna Carew, believed to have been the oldest Irish person, has died in South Africa just a few weeks after celebrating her 109th birthday on January 5th.

A native of Dundrum, Co Tipperary, Sister Dympna, a Dominican nun, emigrated to South Africa more than 84 years ago and lived in retirement at St Michael’s Convent at Rondebosch, outside Cape Town.

Sister Dympna died peacefully after a week-long decline in her health. She is survived by her 96-year-old younger sister, Sister Bede Carew, who is a nun in the same convent. Longevity runs in the family and two other sisters lived to be 100, while two brothers lived into their nineties.

Sister Dympna was born in 1890 and educated at the St Louis Convent in Monaghan. She trained as a primary teacher in Liverpool and taught briefly in Britain before she entered the Dominicans and emigrated to South Africa. Sister Dympna taught until she was 85.

There are 19 nuns in the Cape Town Dominican community.

Farewell to Ireland’s oldest daughter, 109.

IRELAND’S oldest citizen has died just weeks after celebrating her 109th birthday – and before she achieved her dream of seeing three centuries. Retired Mother Superior, Sr Dympna Carew, died peacefully in her sleep yesterday thousands of miles from her homeland.

The Irish nun has gone down in the record books for celebrating more birthdays than anyone else from the country. The long-living sister had made her home in South Africa after travelling there to became a missionary as a 25-year-old novice. Sr Dympna, who was born in 1890 in Dundrum Co. Tipperary, had lived across two centuries and was aiming to make it a hat-trick by surviving to ring in the year 2000. The Irish woman amazed doctors with her good health right up until her death. After a week long illness the nun, who had seen all the dramatic events of the 20th century unfold, finally left this world.

The Carew family have long-life running in their gene-pool – the late nun’s two sisters hit the 100 mark and her brother lived into his 90s. In a bizarre coincidence her niece was married to the son of the oldest living Irish man – John Ryan, who recently turned 106.

Sr Dympna is survived by her younger sister, Sr Bede Carew, 96, who was at her side when she died at their convent just outside Capetown. The nun came into the world in 1890 just as the electric iron and fountain pens were invented. The plucky Irish girl made her crossing to South Africa just as the First World War broke out.

She was banned from going home during her time in Africa and didn’t see Tipperary again until she was 77 years of age – a half a century after she first set off on her travels. The last time she saw her native Ireland was during a visit home 20 years ago.