Friday 24 November 2017

Dubliner Elizabeth (105) remembers WWI outbreak, and Rising shooting


Nieces of Elizabeth Dempsey, Miriam Scott, left, and Anita Fitzgibbon, right, celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday
Nieces of Elizabeth Dempsey, Miriam Scott, left, and Anita Fitzgibbon, right, celebrate Elizabeth's 105th birthday

Elizabeth Dempsey still remembers the day a child was shot dead during the 1916 Rising.

As she celebrated her 105th birthday in Dublin yesterday, she recalled when a young girl was killed by a sniper almost a century ago.

She even remembered the outbreak of the First World War 101 years ago.

Elizabeth held her birthday party at the Ailesbury Nursing Home on Park Avenue in Sandymount and enjoyed the afternoon event with a glass of champagne.

Born on Saint Mary's Road, Ballsbridge, on June 23, 1910, she and her family had moved from there to Mespil Road by the time the Rising broke out.

She recalls how she and her siblings were instructed to stay safe by keeping away from the windows, as there were soldiers on the nearby canal bridge.

She recalled that tragedy struck for another local family when their daughter was moving near a window and a sniper shot and killed her.


"The gunmen were everywhere and all too ready to shoot," she said.

As a young woman, she enjoyed visiting Dublin's theatres and paying the "awfully" expensive 10 shillings admittance.

Although she often opted for the cheaper alternative of viewing top stars from London from the galleries of the theatres.

But she was not very keen on the popular dress dances at the Metropole and Gresham hotels.

She enjoyed a holiday in London in the 1930s where, she said, "you could buy a silky cotton dress for a pound".

Elizabeth is most proud of her career at Cartan, O'Meara and Kieran Solicitors in Dublin which she joined at 18 after doing a commercial course.

She went on to get college degrees and became head of her department and she continued to work there until her 75th year.

Elizabeth was the eldest of four children. Her sister Peggy moved into Ailesbury Nursing Home in 2004 after breaking her hip.

Elizabeth moved in with her shortly afterwards and they shared a bedroom until Peggy passed away two years later.

Elizabeth has four nephews and three nieces whom she idolises. She loves their visits and being kept up to date on their families.

Several generations attended her party, which was held during Nursing Homes Week.

She said she was "very particular" about cleansing her face and always used expensive creams. She likes the odd glass of sherry and enjoys having her hair set weekly by Rose, her hairdresser.

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