So much for the weaker sex! Irish women live five years longer than men on average, a larger gap than here in the U.S. or most of the rest of Europe.

The Central Statistics Office figures also show, not surprisingly, that there are far more older women in Ireland than men when you count in the earlier death rate.

So the obvious ambition for any Irish bachelor this Valentine's Day is to keep living.

He may be unsuccessful in love and currently in his fifties, but very soon he will have his pick of the ladies, indeed perhaps many of the same women who turned him down in the past.

All he has to do is watch as his fellow middle aged, drop like flies and he gets to pick up the pieces afterwards.

Now that's not a bad Valentine's Day surprise for some old bachelor farmer who thinks love has passed him by.