100-year-old Elizabeth lights up Limerick Church

100-year-old Elizabeth Lyons at St Mary’s Church where she was guest of honour at the switching on of Christmas lights. Photo: David Raleigh

ELIZABETH Lyons was baptised at St Mary’s Church in Limerick City as Ireland entered a bloody civil war in 1922.

100 years later, the great great grandmother helped illuminate the giant Christmas tree at St Mary’s to show “peace and love” for all.

Ms Lyons was guest of honour at a Christmas concert where proceeds from a local sponsorship drive funded the erection of a giant tree festooned in welcoming festive lights.

“I’m all my life in the parish. I was christened here in the old church, and I’m still living just around the corner. It is an honour to be here. It’s lovely,” she said.

The mother-of-12, who lost one daughter, six-month-old Philomena, is still going strong after raising her eleven surviving children.

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She still finds time to “adore” her “forty something grandchildren; fifty-something great grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren and another on the way”, said her daughter, Margaret.

Her husband Martin, “who was in the army and then went to England to work on the steam ships” has passed away but she is “looking forward” to being surrounded by her large family.

“I come to the church every morning for ten o’clock mass. I have done so all my life, but I’m looking forward to Christmas, all my family will come around to my house.”

There is “longevity on the female side” of the family, said another daughter.

“My mother’s great grandmother lived to be 99 and her grandmother was 96 and most of her sisters lived into their 90s,” she said.

Ms Lyons said her secret to a long life is to work hard and “never sit down”.

“I never took life easy, I always kept going…hard work, I don’t sit down much.”

As for her youthful appearance, she replied: “Soap and water, no make up, no lipstick, and a bit of moisturising cream at night.”

Her daughter Margaret said: “She always had a great appetite, she has a glass of milk everyday, plenty of veg and sometimes she might have glass of Guinness.”

“The doctor told her at one time, for a tonic, to build herself up to take the Guinness so she used to put it in her milk.”

Her children Margaret, Mary, Kevin, Geraldine, Matthew, Rita, Ann, Martin, Paul, Dermot and Brian, are all “very proud”.

St Mary’s Parish Priest Fr Richard Davern said he hoped Ms Lyons’  community spirit and their Christmas tree would “lift the spirits of people in these dark times”.

“You never know what stresses are going on in people’s lives, and I would hope that the lights on the Christmas tree which Elizabeth has lit for us all, will bring a bit of hope into the world,” he added.