Sister completes six siblings’ centenarian set!

The six centenarians (back - from left) Sheila Burns, James Clarke, Madge Fanning, with (front) Charles, Joseph and Patrick Clarke.

The baby of the remarkable Clarke family of Castlenancy, Mullagh has reached the age of 100, making her the seventh member to survive a century, breaking their own previous world record for longevity.

Sheila Burns celebrated her birthday last weekend surrounded by 60 members of her family at her daughter’s house in Portumna.

Fran Clossick said her mother was in high spirits for the occasion.

“She’s had a fall a few years ago and it did affect her but she’s very good, very, very content, she was all smiles and is very well looked after in the Portumna Retirement Village where she has lived for the last eight years,” remarked Fran.

“She gets her hair done every two weeks. She’s was a very glamorous lady all her life; we like to keep her in the style she’s accustomed to.”

She becomes the sixth Clarke sibling to turn 100, following in the footsteps of their mother Margaret, who died when knocked down by a car aged 101.In 2014 the family made the Guinness Book of Records for the most siblings to reach the age of 100 when sister Madge Fanning reached the milestone shortly before she passed away.

Madge became something of a celebrity, featuring in newspaper articles and on television, including a documentary about Irish centenarians.

The sisters joined their long-living brothers: Joe Clarke (1901-2002), Charles Clarke (1902-2002), Patrick Clarke (1903-2005) and James Clarke (1906-2009). Four of the other siblings lived well into their nineties.

Born on January 7, 1917, Sheila was the youngest of the thirteen children of Charles and Margaret Clarke. The year she was born, the SS Laurentic was sunk off Lough Swilly; Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his throne; the British royal family officially changed their name to “Windsor”; and the famous courtesan Mata Hari was executed as a German spy.

She shares her birth year with politicians John F Kennedy and Jack Lynch, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor and jazz singer Ella FitzGerald.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.