BIRTHDAY GIRL Mae Collins.
Bohola native celebrates 107th birthday on St Patrick’s Day
Mae Collins hardly knew what the future held for her when she left Bohola as a 17-year-old in 1922 for New York City.
She hardly figured that she would be around to celebrate her 107th birthday on St Patrick’s Day, 2012 but celebrate it she did and in some style.
In the Westchester St Patrick’s Day parade she travelled through the parade in a white convertible with the top down before dancing at a celebration hosted by the Emerald Association of Putnam County.
She told American reporters last week that she never leaves before getting the chance to dance to ‘Moonlight in Mayo’. She still has fond memories of home but has good justification for leaving in 1922 too.
“They wanted me to marry a farmer in Ireland, a neighbour. I said ‘no thank you’. I said ‘Yankeeland is the place for me’. My poor Dad - they thought they’d have me for a neighbour,” she told The New York Daily News.
Ms Collins was the eldest of a family of ten - and has outlived all of her siblings. She puts her longevity down to a shot of rye every day at 4pm.
She met her husband, Martin Collins, a fellow emigrant, in 1930 and they married the following year. He died in 1989. The couple had two children - Peg Heslin and Marty Collins - eight grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Ms Collins continues to live at home with help from a health aide, younger friends and family members who live nearby. Since turning 100, she has received a medal every year from President Mary McAlesse and, this year, from President Michael D Higgins.
And her advice for the latest batch of Irish emigrants?
“Work hard, say a prayer and go to bed early.”
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