Northern Ireland news

It's 211 not out for celebratory centenarians Ellie and Sadie

Ellie Lawther (106) being filmed for the documentary Older Than Ireland

WITH a joint age of 211, Belfast residents Ellie Lawther and Sadie Norris are in celebratory mode this week.

While Mrs Norris just turned 105 at the weekend and received her sixth card from the queen and commemorative coin from the Irish president, Mrs Lawther (106) has made it to the big screen in a documentary, Older Than Ireland, by acclaimed film-maker Alex Fegan.

"Being active and always busy. Keep yourself busy; that's all I can say," is how Ellie - who lives in a retirement home on Cregagh Road in the east of the city - sums up reaching her grand old age. And perhaps the fact that she never smoked or took a drink could be a factor too.

Born in Belfast in 1909, she met her future husband Harold on the Ormeau Road at the age of 16. The couple married and raised their three children. Harold passed away in 1989.

In Older Than Ireland, Mrs Lawther is profiled alongside 29 other Irish centenarians, from the oldest Irish person on record, 113-year-old Kathleen Snavely, to Ireland's oldest man, 108-year-old Luke Dolan.

The film has won rave reviews to date and sees the men and women share their life's memories, from their birth at the dawn of Irish independence to their life as a centenarian in the modern world.

It opens at QFT Belfast this weekend and Mrs Lawther and other residents and staff at her retirement home are planning to go along to see it.

Sadie Norris puts her longevity down to playing bowls and walking to the local shops.

She used to manage a shop on the Cregagh Road and raised a family with her husband Robert after they married in 1946.

Staff at the Kirk House residential home where Mrs Norris has lived for almost 10 years organised a party for her at the weekend.

"All the staff and residents are delighted to be celebrating her birthday and we wish Sadie many happy returns," said Kirk House manager Andrea Selby.

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