THE OLDEST woman in Cork has celebrated the end of lockdown with a long-awaited return to her favourite pub.
Mary McGrath, who turned 104 in April, is a regular in Cork's Model Farm Bar and Bistro, and usually comes every Tuesday for a delicious meal-- but as Ireland went into lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus her regular visits were put on hold.
But with the country now entering Phase 3 of the easing of restrictions, Mrs McGrath made her long-awaited return to the establishment earlier this week, and was presented with a bouquet of roses and a placard wishing her a happy 104th birthday.
The pandemic proved no match for hardy Mrs McGrath, who was born when the rebels were fighting in Dublin's GPO on what would become known as the Easter Rising, and she was welcomed back to her favourite bar with open arms and lunch on the house.
She told Echo Live that while she had a wonderful birthday under lockdown, she was happy to celebrate properly in the Model Farm, saying "they do wonderful beef here".
“On my 104th birthday the Gardaí came to visit me and one of them brought out the cake,” she told the outlet.
“When I was young we were terrified of gardaí. They really had nothing to do because everyone was lovely back then and no real trouble.
“There is no fear of today’s gardaí though. They are very nice people.”
When Mrs McGrath was growing up, very little people in the area celebrated their birthday as severe poverty was widespread in the city.
She told Echo Live: "I never had a birthday.
"There were no birthdays back then. They weren’t even mentioned, because families were too poor to celebrate.
"I overheard a woman on the bus a few years ago saying: ‘We had nothing, but we had everything’, and that was so true.”
While Mrs McGrath always preferred nights at the cinema and family meals to clubs and dances growing up, she's still well able to party with the best of them.
Owner of the Model Farm Bar, Pat Burton, said their favourite customer-- who he called their "special guest"-- celebrated her 100th birthday in the bar four years ago.
"She was the first to arrive and the last to leave that evening!”