Lockdown doesn't stop Mary Rogers celebrating her 100th birthday
One of Ballinascreen’s oldest residents, Mary Rogers celebrated her 100th birthday recently at Magherafelt Manor Nursing Home.
The Spanish Flu was still raging across the world when Mary was born in 1920 and while much has changed in the interim, it is ironic that as she celebrates her century, the world is again struggling to cope with the impact of another pandemic.
While unable to join her inside the home, Mary’s family were able to join her birthday celebrations last Monday from just outside the care home where she has spent the last two years.
Staff at the home have made her stay there an enjoyable one, and as always, they went the extra mile to ensure that while the necessary restrictions were adhered to, Mary’s big birthday was a truly special occasion.
Making the celebration even more special was the beautiful singing of Wayne Rodgers, who has been kindly serenading the residents of local nursing homes during the lockdown.
Mary had been talking about her 'Big Birthday' for months and was determined to reach her big milestone. She was delighted to receive her telegram from the Queen and President Higgins and from her grand-nephew in Australia.
Mary was born in the townland of Brackadysart, Draperstown in the parish of Ballinascreen on April 27, 1920, the eldest of four children born to Peter Rogers from Drumderg and Brigid O’Hagan from Glengomna.
Sadly, Mary’s mother, Brigid died when Mary was just ten and her siblings Rose (Brolly), Katie (McGurk) and Paddy ranged between eight and two years old. Peter married again, this time to Kate Brolly from Cloughfin. Once Mary left school at fourteen, she began working at home on the family farm, helping to look after the cattle, horses, hens and pigs which were common in small farms at the time.
As in many houses, the income from the farm was supplemented with the few shillings earned in shirt-making for local agents and Mary began what was to be a lifelong interest in sewing and needlework. When shirt factories began to take over from home working in the early fifties, she started working in Burns factory in Draperstown and like many others she travelled the three miles each way by bicycle. There she built up many friendships, which she often fondly recalled in later years.
Mary is someone who has always put other people before herself and from her early teens she was there to help others whether neighbours or relations, when there was a new child born or a death in the house and often that caring went on for years.
She nursed her father and step-mother in their final illnesses at a time when there was much less support for carers, having to give up her work in the factory to become a full time carer.
Mary has always made the best out of every situation, never letting life get her down and always accepting her lot with good grace and a hearty laugh. She has a witty sense of humour and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Mary once joked that “she was the only one to be carried out of a graveyard” when she fell and fractured her ankle visiting a grave. She has also attributed one of the many reasons for her long and happy life as to having never married
She has a great rapport with her grand nieces and nephews and delights in being involved in their lives and hobbies.
She has followed them in Irish dancing, Gaelic matches, watched them play Tennis and Rugby “learning the rules of the game” at age 88 in order to follow what was going on and contest if necessary.
Having cared for so many throughout her life, she is now lucky enough to receive the excellent care of the staff in Magherafelt Manor, and her nephews and nieces want to put on record their appreciation for all their thoughtfulness and support.
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