A GREAT-great-grandmother from Limerick City said she “felt like a film star” after her local parish marked her 100th birthday with a live church concert.
At least one person for every year of Elizabeth Lyons’ long life attended St Mary’s Church, Athlunkard Street, to pay tribute to the popular centenarian.
Ms Lyons, born Elizabeth Kelly, on January 3, 1922, is a regular mass goer at St Mary’s, where she was baptised in the former church grounds on January 6, 100 years ago.
“She brought 12 children into the world, including one little baby, Philomena, who is an angel in heaven; she has 41 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren and one on the way; two great-great-grandchildren and another on the way,” St Mary’s Parish Priest Fr Richie Davern told the congregation.
Addressing Mrs Lyons, Fr Davern joked: “I’d say you have more descendants than Moses and Abraham combined.
“We gather today with real gratitude and joy in our hearts for you, that you have reached this amazing milestone,” he said.
“Believe it or not, you have lived 36,525 days, and apparently you have slept 12,172 of them, this is what the statistics tell us.
Married in St Mary’s church, in 1946, Ms Lyons husband Martin, a former ship worker, passed away in 1999.
“You were born on this island at a time when Ireland was embroiled in a civil war, and you have lived all of your 100 years in this parish, which is truly remarkable,” said Fr Davern.
“None of us can comprehend how this lovely lady has seen all the changes through the last 100 years in society, in the church, and yet, she has remained faithful throughout that journey,” he went on.
“She was at her granddaughter’s wedding last Saturday, and not alone did she attend the ceremony here in the church, she didn’t go to bed until 3am the following morning, and she was back up here for mass at 11am – they don’t make them like that anymore.
The St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band, founded in 1885, thundered out a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” backed by the congregation.
Speaking afterwards, having receiving a standing ovation, Ms Lyons beamed: “I feel like a film star.”
“Thank you very much, I’m not feeling too bad, all I want is two new knees and I’ll be alright,” she added.
“I only came down to mass and I didn’t know anything like this was going on, so I’m after getting a surprise now”.
Asked what she had planned for the remainder of her day, she replied: “I’ll do a bit of work, if there’s anything to be done, I’m still able to go about.”
“It’s only my knees, and I’d be alright if only for that, but I’ll still go dancing,” she said.