A west Tipperary community is celebrating the life of one of its most cherished and much loved citizens this Friday night. Mary Catherine Buckley will be surrounded by her family, friends and neighbours to mark her 100th birthday milestone.
A big Tipperary hurling fan, Mary leads an active lifestyle playing cards six nights a week, making apple tarts and cooking dinners and keeping up with the news her eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren have to relate.
â€œWe are really looking forward to the night. It is an emotional occasion for all of the family. We canâ€™t believe we still have her, she is a treasure,â€ her daughter Esther Murphy told The Nationalist.
Mary reads the paper every day, keeping herself informed about the goings on in the world. She has a huge circle of friends who call at her home in Chancellorsland near Emly, where she was born and lived all her life, to bring her to card sessions all over west Tipperary and east Limerick.
â€The Twin Towers tragedy happened on her birthday. She always thinks of the families who lost loved ones on that day. Everybody loves her, everybody make such a big fuss about her, she loves meeting people and having a bit of banter. She loved watching the All-Ireland but had to leave the room in the last few minutes, the excitement was too much for herâ€ said Esther.
Born Mary Catherine Ryan, she was an only child and has spent all of her life at Chancellorsland where her family have farmed since 1750
She has a great memory and loves to tell stories about the IRA bringing informers to the Sinn Fein courts through their fields and remembers her mother feeding The Flying Column when on the run from the Black and Tans.
She never drove a car, only a tractor, and recalls when the men of the house were talking in the kitchen she drove off in the tractor at the age of 18 and ploughed a field.
She married Pat Buckley, who died after a four year illness at the age of fifty eight in 1977. Mary had looked after him throughout his illness for four years at their home.
They had four children - Freda, who died suddenly at the age of forty, Anne and Esther and one brother John, a retired teacher who is married to Anne and live in Chancerllorsland
â€œShe is an inspiration to us all. Life was not easy for her but she has great faith, accepted what she had to deal with and got on with itâ€ said Esther.
Mary, who starts her day with porridge and home made brown bread, enjoyed good health all of her life, only entering a hospital as a patient for the first time at 99 years old.
She bounced back from that setback and is looking forward to a big night out on Friday at Ballykisteen Hotel and another All-Ireland final if she can stand the tension the following weekend.