Mary Ann celebrates her 100th birthday among her family and friends

Sian Moloughney

Sian Moloughney

Birthday girl Mary Ann Maxwell celebrated a very special birthday with lots of style this week - when she achieved the wonderful milestone of her 100th birthday!

Friends and family travelled from far and near to be with her on the special day, which she celebrated at her home, the Cottage Home in Clonmel.

Born Mary Ann Leo, to a family in the King Street Flats in 1911, Mary led an active and varied life that took her far from her home town for many years, before her relatively recent return to South Tipperary.

Mary Ann was born on April 2, 1911, the eldest of the five children of Billy and Annie Leo who lived at 22 The Flats, King Street. She grew up with three brothers, Jackie, Christy and Billy, and a sister Addie.

In 1935 Mary Ann married Dubliner Patrick Maxwell and the couple moved to live in the city. There they had a family of three children - Elizabeth (Betty Dunphy), William (Billy) and Patrick (Paddy).

The family moved to England after the war, in 1945, where they lived at 95 Croydon Road, Keston, in Kent for 62 years.

Mary Ann worked at several jobs during those 62 years and what must be one of the secrets to her long and healthy life - she retired at the ‘young’ age of 84!

Her youngest son, Patrick, died at the age of 21, 50 years ago in 1961. Mary Ann lost her husband in 1980, 31 years ago. Another sadness came to the family six years ago when her daughter Betty, who was married and lived in Clonmel, passed away in 2005.

Mary Ann and her son Billy moved back to Ireland in April 2010. In December of last year she moved in to the Cottage Nursing Home, in Irishtown.

It was surrounded by her son, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, friends and carers at the Cottage Nursing Home that Mary Ann kicked off her birthday celebrations last Saturday afternoon, then it was across the road to The Phoenix bar for further celebrations that carried on into the evening.