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A Centenarian's Diet: Thomas Kelly, Ballygawley, Born 1801

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A Centenarian's Diet: Thomas Kelly, Ballygawley, Born 1801
Extracted from the Daily Telegraph, Launceston [Tasmania, Australia] June 20 1908

Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia



In his little one-storied, thatched farm-house, standing a few miles from Ballygawley, County Tyrone, amid a grove of trees he planted himself seventy years ago, THOMAS KELLY who shortly after his 107th birthday climbed a ladder to repair his own roof, gave on May 14 his recipe for the attainment of such a long span of life. The old man, with the assistance of his seventy-year-old son, tills a mountain farm of seventy four acres, sixty acres of which he reclaimed from morass. He has never had a day’s illness until about four months ago, when he caught a chill and was laid up for a few days.

He attributed his length of years, he said, to plain wholesome food, early rising, moderate use of alcohol, hard work, plenty of fresh mountain air, the smell of peat fires, and a good constitution. Tobacco he has never used.

Though he speaks with a child’s high treble voice, he is still straight and erect. He can walk without the aid of a stick, and as he remarked “I’m not such a bad looking ould man either”. Every morning he is up a five o’clock, dresses himself, lights the fire, and puts the kettle on to boil. For breakfast he has oaten meal porridge, followed by a cup of tea and an egg. For dinner he takes the usual Irish farmer’s meal – potatoes, cabbage and bacon, and before retiring, his supper is a bowl of gruel.

Last autumn he was visited by JUDGE ROSS, of the Irish Land Court, and PROFESSOR BOND. He expected a visit from the DUKE OF ABERCORN about the same time, but the duke’s illness prevented this. Before the winter set in, he walked to Carrickmore , five miles distant to visit his friend MRS PEGGY McGURK who is two years his junior.

Above everything else, he is proud of the fact that at the last general election, he walked into Ballygawley, eight miles distant, to record his vote for the present member for South Tyrone (MR. T.W. RUSSELL). After his day’s work is finished in the fields his great delight is to gather his grandchildren round him at the fireside and sing to them the old-time ballads of Ireland.

Mr. Kelly, whose father died at the age of fifty is the father of six sons and four daughters, several of whom are in America.

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