Moneymore woman second oldest in the north on reaching 106

Brigid Devlin with Moneymore Care Home's activity therapist Jane McIlwrath
Brigid Devlin with Moneymore Care Home's activity therapist Jane McIlwrath

A former nurse from Moneymore is understood to be now the second oldest person in Northern Ireland, after reaching her 106th birthday.

Brigid Devlin celebrated the milestone day with friends at Moneymore Care Home, where she has lived for the past two years.

A young Brigid when she was working as a nurse in New York

A young Brigid when she was working as a nurse in New York

Before that, the well-travelled lady flew between Moneymore and New York City - where she lived and worked as a nurse - until she was almost 100-years-old.

And the secret to her longevity, she says is the fact that she never married - a piece of advice she passed along to this reporter.

When asked whether I should get married, she replied: “No, no... men are a nuisance, that’s all.”

Describing the party the care home staff held for its oldest ever resident, activity therapist Jane McIlwrath said: “We had this room decorated for her [and] we had music the next day.

I don’t know what makes her so youthful - she doesn’t look her age either, she has no wrinkles or nothing - Jane McIlwrath, care home worker

“She’s in general good health, for someone of 106 she looks well,” she added, “She can’t walk but she’s quite compos mentis when she’s in good form.

“She only came in her two years ago - she was living on her own in the community - then she thought it’s time to retire and she came in.

“There’s people come in and they’re 70 and they’re nowhere near as stable as she is. I don’t know what makes her so youthful - she doesn’t look her age either, she has no wrinkles or nothing.”

The former nurse, who left for the USA when she was just 19, was born in the south Derry village on May 13 1909, returning there just 10 years ago.

Whilst working in America she nursed JFK back to health when he was hospitalised with a leg injury.

Her niece, Frances Devlin - wife of Brendan - told the Mail that if Brigid was fit, even now she would not think twice about jumping on a plane.

“She travelled back and forward ‘til she was 100,” she said. “If someone asked her if she would jump on a place now she would say ‘aye’.

Mrs Devlin also said the remarkable woman nursed in New York “right up until she was in her 80s”.