ONE OF Ireland’s oldest residents is putting her time in lockdown to good use with a virtual Mass tour taking in services across the 32 counties.
Neath great-great-grandmother Nancy Stewart celebrated her 107th birthday just before Christmas away from her extended family.
Nancy has been cocooning with her granddaughter Louise Coghlan since last March and has emerged as something of a celebrity during lockdown.
Born on October 16, 1913, Nancy has survived two World Wars and is living through her second pandemic, having been an infant at the time of the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak.
The 107-year-old has been through plenty of difficult times, personally.
She lost her beloved husband in a car crash in 1989 and both of her twin daughters over a devastating three-year period.
Despite this Nancy has retained a positive, optimistic outlook on life – one she shared with the people of Ireland in a Letter of Hope that she read to the public on RTE.
"No matter how bad things have got, I’m the living proof that we can survive and in years to come, this will just be a distant memory,” she said in the powerful letter.
A key part of Nancy’s enduring optimism stems from her religious faith.
"'Do you want to watch Mass?' Oh be God her eyes would light up like I'd given her a million euros."
Meet the 107-year-old who has taken on a churchly virtual challenge of watching Mass across the 32 counties of Ireland... pic.twitter.com/GXoltIHpi7
— BBC News NI (@BBCNewsNI) January 10, 2021
It’s a faith which, according to BBC Northern Ireland, she has been celebrating with a special spiritual challenge that has seen her attend Mass services across 32 counties.
With religious services forced to move online many like Nancy has sought comfort in God from the comfort of her own home.
Speaking to the BBC, her granddaughter Louise acknowledged that it has been challenging finding "different ways of keeping granny entertained" but that anytime she suggests watching Mass her "eyes light up like I'd just given her a million euros".
Nancy, meanwhile, is simply astonished that she can even watch Mass at home.
"I feel so happy and so refreshed sitting happily in my own kitchen, in my armchair looking at Mass," she said.
"I can't believe it, I'm trying to believe it's true."