Centenarians In Ireland

At the last official count (2014), there were more than 400 centenarians in Ireland – and an exclusive group of super centenarians (all of them women) who have lived past the age of 110.

Irish citizens who reach the age of 100 receive the Centenarian Bounty, a national award made by the Irish president to people who have reached the age of 100. It is also awarded to foreign nationals living in Ireland and since 2006, it has also been presented to people born in Ireland but who now live elsewhere.

The Centenarian Bounty is usually awarded by a local member of the clergy or friend of the centenarian on behalf of the President. It comprises a letter of congratulations signed by the President and €2,450. Subsequent birthdays are also marked with a congratulatory letter and a commemorative coin.

In 2014, 407 Irish citizens world-wide received the Centenary Bounty.

When the Irish Times mapped where centenarians lived, they found interesting data. There were higher than average numbers of centenarians in Connacht, particularly Co Mayo (2 per 10,000 population) and Co Longford (1.8 per 10,000 population), and one in five of them lived in Dublin.

As you might guess, women were much more likely to make it to their 100th birthday – almost 88 percent of centenarians received a State pension at the end of 2014. The oldest recorded Irish person to have lived, was Clare-born Kathleen Snavely, who died in New York in June 2015 at the age of 113. The second longest living Irish woman was Kathleen Plunket who was five weeks short of her 112th birthday when she died. Super centenarians are classified as those aged 106 or over.

A documentary released at the end of last year –Older Than Ireland– featured conversations with 30 centenarians, people born before the Irish Republic came into existence. According to a review in the New York Times, the documentary features haunting recollections, Bessie Nolan recalling the day of the Easter Rising, Jackie O’Sullivan meeting the Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera, Michael O’Connor and Flann Brenna describing the Black and Tans, and Jack Powell remembering the early emergence of the IRA.

The director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, Prof Tom Scharf, said the number of people exceeding the age of 110 is set to increase. Because there is yet to be a tail off in the increase in life expectancy, the number of centenarians is set to grow in the years ahead in Ireland.

Are you or do you know any centenarians? Does longevity run in your family? We’d love to know. Why not tell us on our Facebook page or Tweet us @finders_ie