Northern Ireland news

Co Down `internet sensation' passes away at the age of 102

Co Down man Joey Rodgers passed away on Tuesday at the age of 102. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

A Co Down man who used his 100th birthday celebrations two years ago to raise funds for a day care centre has passed away.

Joseph (Joey) Rodgers from the Annalong Road in Ballymartin, died on Tuesday.

A father-of-nine, Mr Rodgers was 102, making him older than Ballymartin GAC with which he had strong generational links and of which, he was a former treasurer.

The great-great-grandfather hit the headlines in 2020 when he used his 100th birthday celebrations to help raise funds for a day care centre close to his heart.

Instead of gifts, Mr Rodgers asked well-wishers to donate to the Mourne Stimulus Day Centre to mark his milestone birthday.

His appeal raised in excess of £1,400 for the Kilkeel centre, which provides support for adults with of learning disabilities, including his daughter Attracta.

The youngest of nine children born to Edward and Mary Rodgers, Mr Rodgers spent his entire life living in Ballymartin, where he was a popular face in the community.

His parents had a grocery store at Blackrock in Ballymartin where he helped out before he began work in construction.

He also worked as a lorry driver travelling around south Down and Ballykinlar.

He also worked at Glasdrumman House as a gardener where he met a lot of famous people including James Galway.

He retired when he was 80.

Posting online, Ballymartin GAC said the club was "deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of our most loved, respected and revered members".

"Joey became somewhat of an internet sensation when we talked about him being older than the club itself recently.

"It was fitting that, in the year of our centenary, he is the current holder of our Hall of Fame award.

"Joey was central to our celebrations this year in our film, our book and although he was not able to attend in person, his fellow members and former team mates spoke so highly of him at our Gala Ball dinner only last week.

"Joey and his family have always been strongly connected to our club through the generations".

Requiem Mass for Mr Rodgers will take place tomorrow at 12noon at St Joseph's Church in Ballymartin. Burial will take place afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Northern Ireland news