Northern Ireland news

Maud Nicholl (110) remembered as woman of 'faith, character and substance'

Mourners at the funeral of 110-year-old Maud Nicholl included her 83-year-old cousin Maureen Luke. Picture by Justin Kernoghan
Mairead Holland

A woman of "faith, character and substance" is how 110-year-old Maud Nicholl was remembered at a service of thanksgiving yesterday.

Rev Alistair Bates of Wellington Presbyterian Church told family and friends in Ballymena that Miss Nicholl, thought to be Ireland's oldest woman, had led a "long, full and happy" life.

He said she was almost three when the Titanic set sail from Southampton and although she saw the world change over many decades, she "never seemed to fear it nor did it overwhelm her".

The minister spoke of her love of writing poetry, much of which was published in magazines and books.

He read out one of her poems, called 'Life Begins at 90', in which she asked God to give her more time and ended with "I'd like my telegram from the Queen before you call me home".

Rev Bates reflected that although she was his oldest parishioner, she had not lost her personality, her giftedness or her sense of humour.

"One of the things I remember most about Maud too was her ability to not to take herself too seriously and to put a smile on in life when the circumstances were often difficult, " he told the congregation at Alan Francey's Funeral Church.

"When she could not get to church, the church would get to her... and she thoroughly appreciated that.

"Because fundamentally she was a woman of faith... who genuinely believed that God had been good to her."

Miss Nicholl died in her sleep last Thursday at Glenkeen House care home in Randalstown, just a few miles from where she was born in Ballymena in 1909.

The pensioner, who never married, said her long life "was always quite happy and I never worried too much".

Among her tips for longevity were "just do the best you can every day and trust in God", as well as "no smoking, no drinking and... no men".

Miss Nicholl worked in a bank but gave up her job when her father John became unwell.

She moved to the Woodgreen area near Ballymena in the early 1970s and lived independently until moving into the care home last year after a fall.

In a statement, Glenkeen said Miss Nicholl "was an inspiration".

"We celebrated her birthday on July 3 this year and enjoyed her holding court at that very special event.

"Maud loved to share stories of her life, particularly her childhood, and was always full of joy. Maud had a sharp wit, a twinkle in her eye and a penchant for straight talking. Her love of singing, good craic and her pleasant nature will all be long remembered by the staff."

Miss Nicholl had one brother, Joe, who predeceased her.

The service was followed by interment in Ballymena Cemetery.

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