herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

'A black and tan gave me a tin of corned beef but my mother made me give it back' - Bessie (103) recalls her 'rare old times' in Dublin

Bessie Nolan
Bessie Nolan

Bessie Nolan is 103 years old and still walks to the shops to buy groceries.

"Too many women stop being active when they get old. I like to keep busy because boredom would kill me," said the life-long Dublin resident.

The great-great-grandmother, whose eldest son Eamon is aged 83, is one of 30 Irish people aged 100 or more who appear in a new documentary film Older Than Ireland, to be screened in cinemas from September 25.

"I started working at 14 crimping frills on pillow cases at The Metropolitan Laundry on Inchicore Road," she told the Herald.

Bessie retired at 75 from her job in a bank but worked for a further year in a dry cleaners.

Born in 1911, she was brought up in The Ranch area of Inchicore. Her parents took her and the family out of Dublin to Co Wicklow during the 1916 Rising. Bessie vividly recalled the War of Independence.

"The Black and Tan soldiers would walk around the streets like thunder and lightning. There was a curfew every night at nine o'clock.

"I remember one young Black and Tan called 'Brasso' who gave me a tin of corned beef but my mother made me give it back," she said.

Bessie said she and other children later joined Countess Markievicz praying publicly outside Kilmainham Jail, where Republicans were imprisoned,

Bessie married young and reared four children.

She remembered listening to Count John McCormick's "lovely singing" at the Eucharistic Congress in 1932.

The film, made by Snackbox Films and directed by Alex Fegan, is distributed by Element Films Distribution.

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