1998 – Bridget Dirrane, who was imprisoned with Kevin Barry and who canvassed for John F. Kennedy in the United States, celebrated her 104th birthday with news that she was to be featured in the new edition of the Guinness Book of Records.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Bridget Dirrane was the oldest native of Ireland’s Aran Islands and the second oldest person in Ireland. Éamon de Valera was the Irish political leader she most admired, but in a life touching three centuries, she met Pádraig Pearse, went on hunger strike in Mountjoy gaol, campaigned for John F Kennedy in Boston, and was the oldest recipient of an honorary degree, which earned her a place in the Guinness Book Of Records.

She was born Bridget Gillan, the youngest of the eight children on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, Co Galway. She had a happy childhood and shared the family love of music and dancing. As well as Pearse, she also met Thomas MacDonagh and other nationalists when they made visits to Inis Mór.

Having worked as a childminder in Galway, she became housekeeper to Father Matt Ryan, a nationalist Land League veteran, in Knockavilla, Co…

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