North Belfast woman's secret to a long and fulfilling life as she turns 100

Pauline McCarty with her daughter Miriam and son Peter
-Credit: (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

The secret to a long life is "hard work and a strong faith", says a Belfast woman who will be celebrating her 100th birthday this weekend.

Pauline McCarty, originally from the east of the city but a long-time resident of the Antrim Road, has lived a long and fulfilling life, and her centennial birthday on Saturday is a remarkable milestone that is being marked within her community.

Pauline, née Brady, was born on June 29th 1924 on the Woodstock Road, the youngest of ten children. She was educated at Cross and Passion College in Ballycastle, which got her out of Belfast at the onset of World War Two.

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As she prepares to reach this incredible age, Pauline and her family spoke to Belfast Live her journey and achievements.

After a short spell working as a telephonist in Belfast's central telephone exchange, where she met her future husband, Ray, who was a telephone engineer, and from West Belfast. The couple married on June 23rd 1953, just weeks after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and went on to have six children, five boys and one girl.

Ray passed away in 2005 but Pauline is blessed with the support of a large family, including her 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Pauline's 100 years in pictures
Pauline's 100 years in pictures -Credit:Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live

The family first lived in the Falls Road area before moving to the north of the city in 1969. Pauline later went back to work in the Mater Hospital where she spent 20 years on the switchboard. Alongside this has been many years of volunteer work with the Northern Ireland Hospice, something Pauline loved.

She said: "I would make cups of tea for people in the Hospice and chat with them. It was very satisfying and fulfilling and those were very happy days. I also took part in their fundraising like sponsored walks. I loved it. I still love to go down there in the afternoons and they look after me really well in the cafe."

For the past two years Pauline's home has been at the nearby Ambassador Nursing Home on the Antrim Road where she is popular and much-loved by both staff and fellow residents and regarded as an inspiration as " a life well-lived".

Her only daughter, Miriam, 67, said: "Mum lived independently up until two years ago when she went into the home. Prior to that she was able to look after her own house, go out walking every day, getting on and off the bus, doing her own cooking and laundry. She was a very independent and active lady while less so nowadays, she's still active in mind."

And it seems good genes run in the female side of the family as three of Pauline's sisters lived to over 90. And it's also a milestone year for her youngest son, Peter, who turns 60 in August, while her eldest turned 70 this year.

Pauline McCarty, née Brady, was born on June 29th 1924, the youngest of ten children.
Pauline McCarty, née Brady, was born on June 29th 1924, the youngest of ten children. -Credit:Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live

Miriam added: "In terms of the family, three of us are still living in Belfast and the other three are in the south of England but we'll all be here at the weekend. It's a special moment for us all to be together and rare to get everyone in one place for one day.

"It's amazing to live to 100 and we're just really grateful to have had her for so long as that's unusual and worth every celebration. I think having good friends and family around has given her purpose all the time because she loves seeing other people and company is important and a big motivator.

"Loneliness is one of the hardest things for older people but she has never been lonely and in the home here it's like a second family. She has also enjoyed incredible health throughout her life and never been ill and had no operations."

A spokesperson for Ambassador Nursing Home told us: "Pauline has been a cherished member of our nursing home community, and her vibrant spirit and positive attitude have touched the lives of both staff and fellow residents. She has always been an inspiration to many, and her longevity is a testament to her resilience, strength and zest for life."

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