On Saturday 27th July Mary Catherine Christie (nee McGarry) of Islandmacallion, Armoy, returned to her place of birth to celebrate her 100th birthday in the company of over 200 guests comprised of family, neighbours and friends.
The celebrations began with a Mass of Thanksgiving concelebrated by Fr Hugh O’Kane (Ballinlea) and Fr Brendan Gillan in St Patrick’s Church Loughgiel followed by a reception in the Loughgiel Millennium Centre.
Mary Catherine and her twin brother, James, were born on 27th July 1913 into a family of ten, to parents Ellen and Paddy McGarry of Tober, Loughgiel. Her siblings were Francie, Maggie, Alex, Neil, Annie, Ellen, James (her twin) John and Eddie.
Mary Catherine wasbBaptised, confirmed and received her first sacraments in St Patrick’s Church, Loughgiel.
She was educated at her local parish school which was located on Lough Road, Loughgiel (now demolished and forms part of Fr Barrett Park) and to where she walked every day.
Up until her marriage on 19th February 1936 to James Francis Christie of Islandmacallion (near Ballinlea), the 23-year-old Mary Catherine worked on the family farm at Tober.
Following her marriage she moved to her husband’s home and farm where she developed the poultry side of the business consisting of turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl and bantams. In addition she milked cows, churned, grew vegetables and baked bread.
She is mother to eight children: Betty (deceased) McCormick, Ellen (Donnelly), Kathleen (McGarry), James Joseph (deceased), Margaret Mary, Annie (McAllister), Bridie (Connolly) and Philip. Her beloved husband, James Francis, died on 14th June 1975.
She is Granny Christie to 14 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.
She still continues to live in her own home at Islandmacallion where she has lived for the past 77 years.
Among the numerous messages of congratulations received, Mary Catherine was delighted to receive greetings from HRH Queen Elizabeth and from Michael D Higgins, Uachtaran na hEireann, President of Ireland, who included a Centenarian Bounty cheque.
Mary Catherine and her family would like to extend their thanks to all who joined with them in celebrating this memorable day.