Though memories of the first handful may be vague, Twin Towns' woman, Rena Doherty (pictured above), will celebrate her 100th Christmas Day on Saturday - after turning ninety-nine today, writes Paddy Walsh.
Family and friends will host a celebration in her honour and the affable Ballybofey lady, who resides in Stranorlar, may even argue that she's actually marking the ton-up birthday, a twinkle in her eye as she put the case for the advance party with family members yesterday.
Born in Navenney Street, Ballybofey, to Denis and Mary Gallagher (nee McNulty), she attended school in Stranorlar and spent a short term in Dooish N.S. After that it was out to the big world - or at least that world immediate to the Twin Towns locality.
She worked for a number of years in the Solo shirt factory on Ballybofey's Main Street and in 1935 married local breadman, Joe Doherty, who also worked as a groundsman at MacCumhaill Park.
Her father, Denis, was a train driver, bringing passengers to Glenties and Strabane, before his untimely death at a young age in 1931.
Rena continued to bring her own working skills to the shirt factory after her marriage up, at least, until the birth of her first offspring - she and Joe had five sons and three daughters.
"I enjoyed very much working there," she maintains, recalling some of her colleagues at the time including Maggie McCool and Maggie McConnell among others.
The expertise she gained there stood her in good stead and at home she continued to sew, making curtains and bedspreads for Kee's Hotel in Stranorlar.
A woman of strong faith, she is seated at the window of her daughter, Teresa's home in Cappry, clutching the ever present Rosary beads and a selection of prayer booklets, when the 'Democrat' calls.
From the window she can see the wide and scenic expanse of snow bound fields, prompting a question to someone who has lived through many momentous events, specifically the Big Freeze of 1947.
At that time her family resided at Hamilton's Row in Stranorlar, now just a picture in the family photo album. "It was worse then but this is lasting longer," Rena maintains. And she and daughter, Teresa, just a young girl at the time, slide into memories of huge snow drifts - "it would be right up the window" - and sleigh rides and the great white expanse.
In the 1950's, the family moved to Woodview Terrace. Another recollection: the local doctor passing by in his car, one of the few owners of such modes of transport. "You wouldn't see many cars on the road back then but I would often see him driving up and down past the house."
Yesterday, Rena was in the company of her daughter, Teresa, son-in-law, Charlie Duffy, grandchild, Anne Marie (Sweeney) and the latter's daughter, Naomh.
Had she been surrounded by her extended family, the Duffy sitting-room might have struggled to accommodate them - a total of 32 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and one great, great grandchild!
Today, she'll cut the cake to mark another year in a lifetime well led. And anticipate the big 100. Or is it the 101st...?!
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