More information about Margaret Kelly nee McNamara , Ireland’s oldest woman, who recently celebrated her 108th birthday in the USA has come to light.
Born in June 1902, Margaret lives at the Pines Nursing Home in Glens Falls, New York, about 50 miles north of Albany, having emigrated to the United States in 1918, when she was just 16 years of age.
After IrishCentral broke the story which has now also been picked up by the New York Times, her nephew Noel McNamara and his sister Eileen recounted more of the family history.
Eileen,explained how Margaret had emigrated and what it was like back in 1918 in Ireland to the Clare Champion newspaper.
“At that time the eldest in the family took the boat to Long Island and the youngest stayed at home. A total of five from the family went to Long Island. My father remembers bringing them part of the way to the boat. Molly was the eldest and went out first in April 1912.
She actually missed the Titanic by about an hour of it going out. My father used to bring them on a pony to trap some of the way and then someone would pick them up. The way it worked then was the eldest would send money home to bring the next one out,” Eileen explained.
A few years back Eileen and her brothers went to visit their aunts, Margaret and Nellie, and recalled the welcome and the positive spirit that greeted them.
“We went to see Margaret 12 years ago. Nellie was another aunt who died aged 103. She was brilliant when we saw her, and when I think of it Margaret was in her late 90s but she looked like someone in her 60s. They were fantastic really. Margaret and Nellie were never sick a day in their lives. They worked very hard and of course started working in Ellis Island. None of them really died young. My own father died aged 95 and his mother, my grandmother died in her 90s. She was working on the farm right up until she died. She died of old age really not due to sickness or anything,” Eileen added.
“When I went over it was still very much in their minds how the old farm was and they recalled it as it was when they left. My brother Noel stayed at the farm and did up the old house and I was able to tell them what it was like now. It meant a lot to them that the house was still there. Margaret was eager to know about neighbours, she had forgotten none of them. Another curious thing was that both of them still had their Irish accents even after being there so long. I asked Margaret what happened that she didn’t get an American accent and she said I never wanted to lose her Irish one,”
They were very good to us as well sending us parcels over from America. They praised my mother highly and told how she used to write to them about who was getting married in the area and who had died that kind of news,” she explained.