Mullagh woman Nonie Lynch marked her 100th birthday last Friday week. Five generations of her family attended the celebrations.
Those who were there included seven children, 26 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Born on February 5, 1910, Nonie has witnessed more change than most ever manage to experience.
When she was born, Ireland was part of the British Empire, ruled by Edward VII and by the UK government. The 1910 General Election resulted in John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party holding the balance of power in Westminster, fuelling expectations that Home Rule could be achieved.
Closer to home, Nonie was the youngest of Richard Crawford and Mary Linehan’s 12 children, when she was born in Cloghanmore in the western foothills of Mount Callan.
The Crawfords had lived there since the early 1700s, when they arrived from Scotland via Ulster.
There was 21 years between the eldest child, Mary, and Nonie. In fact, three of her sisters had already emigrated when Nonie was born.
Nonie was at primary school in Letterkelly National School during the Easter Rising of 1916, the War of Independence and the subsequent Civil War.
She still remembers the excitement in Clare when Eamon de Valera stood in 1917 by-election as a Sinn Féin candidate in the east of the county.
Nonie was 10 years old at the time of the Rineen ambush during the War of Independence in 1920. Less than a month later, her eldest brother, John, was killed in another IRA ambush in Roscommon.
When Nonie finished primary school she stayed at home to mind her parents.
Twelve years after her father died in 1930, Nonie moved to Mount Scott in the Kilmurry-Ibrickane parish, where she married Paddy Lynch. They had seven children and were married for 47 years.
While in her 80s and a regular in Gleeson’s Pub in Coore, Nonie began to sing old songs she had learned as a child. She was recorded by folklore collector Tom Munnelly from UCD and the audio is now stored in the national folklore archives in Dublin.
Nonie also featured on at least two CDs released in the 1990s including Cascades of Song: Clare Festival of Traditional Singing 1991–1999 and Around the Hills of Clare.
Nonie also featured on RTÉ’s Léargas in 2002, when she was 92.
Before that, in 1995, she travelled to Belfast where she visited the Republican plot in Miltown cemetery and said a silent prayer at the grave of Bobby Sands, who died on hunger strike in 1981.