Mairin Hughes, 109, died peacefully surrounded by the community in Maryfield Nursing Home in Chapelizod, Dublin after a short illness, according to the Irish Times.
“All at Maryfield including management, staff, residents and religious sisters would like to take the opportunity to say that Maírín was an inspirational lady who taught us so much about life,” a statement from the nursing home said.
“She was full of knowledge and kindness. She cared deeply about nature, giving back to her local community, and religion played a large part of her life.
"She lived all of her 109 years to the fullest and we will miss her every day."
Hughes marked her impressive 109th birthday with celebrations at Maryfield Nursing Home this past May, during which she was presented with a medal commemorating her birthday to add to her "precious" collection
“You have lived through remarkable times in the history of Ireland and the world," a letter accompanying the medal said.
“You have witnessed remarkable changes, unimaginable at the time of your birth in 1914."
During her birthday celebrations, Hughes told The Irish Times that she still enjoyed reading, listening to music, and playing Scrabble.
“I like just living,” she said, sweetly adding, “I’m rich in the company I have.”
On May 30, Hughes was among the guests at an afternoon tea event hosted by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins Áras an Uachtaráin "to celebrate the important role that a variety of people have and can play in different communities, and the efforts which we can make collectively to build a better, shared future, one rooted in the spirit of selfless citizenship."
Ireland's oldest person, 109 year old Máirín Hughes, was among the guests at last Tuesday's afternoon tea at Áras an Uachtaráin pic.twitter.com/Y4lLSKBwoi— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) June 4, 2023
Born in Belfast in 1914, Hughes and her family lived in Dublin for a short time before settling in Killarney, Co Kerry in 1918.
In the 1930s, Hughes moved to Cork to study science at University College Cork, something that was "unusual" for women at the time. She graduated with a BSc in 1935 before going on to work as a chemist in UCC's medical lab for 16 years.
She recalled her life and time at UCC in this 2018 video:
She remained in the job until 1950 when she met her husband Frank and the couple moved to Dublin, prompting her to take up a job as a teacher.
Hughes has given several interviews in recent years about her memories growing up in Ireland.
In an interview with Newstalk less than two weeks before her passing, Hughes recalled seeing the Black and Tans patrolling in Co Kerry during her youth and said that attending Pope John Paul II's Mass in Phoenix Park with her family in 1979 was amongst her fondest memories.
Hughes moved into Maryfield Nursing Home in 2017.
“I must say, it’s very comfortable,” she told Newstalk.
“The staff are exceptional; they’re not staff, they’re friends. There’s that attitude about it.
“I’m very happy here; I have no responsibilities.”