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Longevity in Co. Tyrone

Transcribed & Submitted by Teena
Extracted from Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1890
The Journals can be found at

In March 1770 died James KEARNEY, in Ireland, aged 115 years, he lately had a daughter married, whose age was 15.

About the same year died Patrick BLEWITT, aged 120, who resided in the North of Ireland, he was never known to be a week sick and retained his memory and understanding to the last, he was gardener to a family for eight generations past.

February 1774- William BEATY aged 130, died near Dungannon, he carried a pair of colours at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim.

In the volume of Notes and Queries for 1867 we have an interesting notice of a servant woman who died January 7th of that year. It is thus given Peggy WALSH the faithful servant of the family of MILLAR of Milford, in whose service she had been, since 1757, and to every member, of which she was devotedly attached, her father who was coachman in the same family lived to 100 years of age

Another instance of hereditary longevity also mentioned in Notes and Queries is as follows-

A gentleman visiting a churchyard near Hollywood, county Down discovered the tombstone of a man named BRYSON whose age was given as 103 and that of his daughter Anne 106. The influence of heredity will be seen again in the next record which I shall give Mary Trench CRUMLIN aged 100, her father lived to be 104, her mother 96, an uncle died at 110, and she left two sisters over 80 years of age.

Easton , a write of longevity, collected a great number of cases & published them in a book printed at Salisbury in 1799.

His researches comprise instances from all countries and Ireland has a fair share of examples. Speaking of longevity, Easton remarks “that it is not the rich and great, not those who depend on medicines, who become old, but such as use much exercise, are exposed to the fresh air, and whose food is plain and moderate, as farmers, fishermen, gardeners, soldiers &c

below extracted from The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland by The Society, 1892
and written By Seaton F MILLIGAN M.R.I.A. Fellow

The following appeared in the Tyrone Constitution published at Omagh. The date is June 1891. On Saturday last, a woman in Aughnacloy, named Margaret MAGINN whose age appeared in the census returns as 111 years, passed over to the majority. She had been in very good health to a few weeks ago and was regularly to be seen about town.

The same paper in April 1891 contained the following -Two residents of this neighbourhood, Omagh, died during the past week at a remarkably old age. Both women resided within a short distance of each other on the old road leading to Fintona. The funeral of Mrs Ann QUINN took place on Easter Sunday and the coffin recorded that she died at the age of 100 years. The remains of Mrs MAGUIRE of Cannon Hill, followed to the graveyard a few days later. This old lady had almost reached the century and could boast of having been sponsor at the baptism of an infant born in this locality, when the present century was in its infancy and who, in after years was distinguished as the Most Rev. Dr. Kelly Roman Catholic Bishop of Deny.

On 31st December 1891, at Foremass, near Sixmilecross county Tyrone, Peter GORMLY or GRIMES died at the age of 103 years; his farm was situated on a bleak mountain side, 700 feet above the sea level, where he lived the greater portion of his life. He died after a short illness and was in possession of all his faculties to the last.

In November 1891 there died in the parish of Carrickmore. near Pomeroy county Tyrone. a centenarian named Frank (Ban) M’RORY at the reputed age of 111 years. It is stated that he was born in the year 1780, was a non smoker and unmarried.

From the Tyrone Constitution February 20 1892 – At her residence Northland place, Dungannon Priscilla, daughter of the late Rev. A.G STUART of Drumnaspil and Rector of Tullyniskan, aged 100 years. In this case satisfactory evidence of age exists.

The case of an Irish centenarian ending her days in America. I give as reported in the Tyrone Constitution of 8 April 1892, this seems to be a well authenticated case, as the old lady brought a copy of her baptismal certificate with her when leaving this country for the United States.

– A Tyrone Centenarian-
After living 75 years in Ireland and over 28 years in New York, Mary CLEMENTS died on February 13, at No 214 – West Seventeenth street, at the age of 103 years 8 months 15 days. The death certificate, issued by Dr Albert Little of No 158 – West Seventeenth street, sets forth that Mrs CLEMENTS died of old age. The old lady was born in Stewartstown, county Tyrone, Ireland May 29 1788. When she was 18 years old she married John CLEMENTS, who held the position of painter and glazier at the Great House of Lord Stewart of Stewartstown. Nine children were born to them. Eight of the children came to New York in 1859. They were seven sons and two daughters. One of the daughters remained at home to care for the parents. In 1862, the old couple followed their children to America. The daughter who remained with them, came to New York also. Six of the sons got married in that city and had children and grandchildren almost innumerable. The seventh son, Robert never married. With him, the old woman lived until six months ago, when he died. Shortly after old John CLEMENTS and his wife came from Ireland, the War broke out. The old man was afraid he would be drafted. He was too old, he said, to fight, being only two years younger than his wife and he went home again to the old country. He died fourteen years ago. When her husband went back to Tyrone, Mrs CLEMENTS went to live with her son Robert at No 678 -Tenth avenue. He made a vow never to get married while his mother lived. He died last August. Then the old mother moved to No 214 – West Seventeenth street, where her son James, 84 years of age, lives.

Mrs CLEMENTS was a woman of remarkable vigour, she was never known to be ill, her mind was as clear up to the day of her death, as it was when she was a young girl. She used to account for her good health by saying that the exercise she took as a girl in climbing the hills of Tyrone gave her the wiry frame and vigorous constitution which withstood all diseases. A week before she died Mrs. CLEMENTS walked to Forty- ninth street, Ninth avenue, to visit one of her sons. On the morning of her death she arose at five o:clock as she did every morning of the year and prepared breakfast for her son James. At two o:clock she went to the corner grocery for some coffee. When she returned she said she felt faint. She simply sat down on a lounge and died, just as a clock would stop when it runs down. When Dr Little was called he found the old woman was dead but looking as calm as if she were asleep.

In the case of Mrs CLEMENTS, the exact date of her birth is shown in her baptismal record, which she brought with her from the old Episcopal Church at Stewartstown, when she was coming to America. I have copied the foregoing article in its entirety as it is so full of interest, I could not abridge it without interfering with this short history of a woman whose span of life was so prolonged. The district of Stewartstown, county Tyrone from which Mrs CLEMENTS hailed, has produced several remarkable cases of longevity, some of which I have referred to in my previous Paper.

Patrick QUIN a native of Ireland, died near Newcastle England, in the latter part of 1891 aged 103 years. He was married three times. At his death there were 30 children and between 80 and 90 grandchildren living.

In course of conversation with a clergyman, a Member of our society, as to the difficulty of ascertaining with accuracy the age of old people, he said he had a recent instance of it. An old teacher who taught a school of which my friend was patron, desired to retire on pension. For this purpose his patron requested him to ascertain his age and send it to him. The following is a copy of his reply, which is
worth preserving-
Rev. Sir, Collating the date of my birth, with several other remarkable contemporaneous events, such as the windy night, the Battle of Glenoe (note below) &c, I deem that I was born against the 20th
July 18__, exact year my friend had forgotten.

Note- For the information of members who never heard of the Battle of Glenoe, which is not mentioned in British history, but was of sufficient importance to be recognised as an epoch, from which to calculate the date of events in the county Tyrone. I append the following. I had these facts from one who was present on the occasion. I also remember to have heard a ballad in my early days which embodied the same. The Battle of Glenoe, as it is called took place on a 12th of July, about seventy years ago, two miles from Stewartftown county Tyrone. A lodge of Orangemen were returning home after their celebration, when they were attacked by a much stronger body of the opposite party, close by the Chapel of Glenoe. The Orangemen were well armed and so were their opponents, party feeling then, as now, running high, in that locality. Amongst the Orange party were two Waterloo veterans, one named WILLIAMSON, the other BARCLAY, who formed the Orangemen into line with a space between each man. The other party attacked in a dense mass, without a skilled leader and a considerable number of them were killed by the fire of the Orangemen. The former ultimately retreated after considerable loss, leaving the Orange party masters of the field, who then proceeded home without further molestation.

*Transcriber’s Notes*

– Included in the above article is one on Mrs Violet HUMPHREYS, her maiden name was Violet DUFFY. Her father was a miller at Augher, near Clogher, county Tyrone. She was married to a man named HUMPHREYS. Although she never had any children, there may be someone looking to
fit her into the family tree. and there is in this article, a picture of her. Page 235

– Human Longevity: Recording the Name, Age, Place of Residence, and Year of the Decease, of 1712 Persons who Attained a Century, & Upwards, from A.D. 66 to 1799 by J. Easton, 1799

-There are many cases reported for all of Ireland.