104-year-old Cork woman survived Spanish flu of 1918 and is determined to get through Covid-19 too

104-year-old Cork woman survived Spanish flu of 1918 and is determined to get through Covid-19 too
Gladys Locke, who is originally from Highfield West on College Road.

A CORK woman who survived the deadliest pandemic in history is determined to outlive this crisis too as she prepares to celebrate her 104th birthday.

Gladys Locke, who is originally from Highfield West on College Road, will celebrate her birthday in isolation in Leopardstown Park Hospital in Dublin this Monday.

She was due to celebrate with her family but understandably celebrations had to be cancelled due to restrictions to combat Covid-19.

Nonetheless, Gladys keeps her spirits up by chatting to her daughter Barbara on the phone.

Gladys recalled the Spanish flu outbreak which lasted from 1918 until 1920 and the effect it had on her family.

“I remember my mum was so worried she wasn’t able to sleep at night,” Gladys said.

Gladys Locke, who is originally from Highfield West on College Road.
Gladys Locke, who is originally from Highfield West on College Road.

The soon-to-be 104-year-old recalled how she narrowly escaped death from double pneumonia around that period and the vigil her parents kept by her bedside.

“They were standing by my bed and acting very worried,” she said of her parents. 

“That was before antibiotics.”

Gladys recalled how the sickness had left her life hanging in the balance.

“The doctor said that if I made it past two in the morning I would live.”

She is still showing that fighting spirit today at a time that might have left others broken and also has invaluable support from fellow residents and staff helping her through this difficult time.

She refers to Jimmy Jr - a resident in the nursing home who greets her with a fresh bouquet of flowers each morning.

At just 87, Jimmy is the younger of “the two Jimmys” living at the facility.

Even through such a challenging and isolating time, Gladys said she is grateful to be with so many people who care about her.

“I’m so lucky,” she said, “I’m very well looked after here”

Clinical manager at Leopardstown Park Hospital, Liz Cusack praised Glady’s steely determination during the Covid-19 crisis.

“Gladys keeps us all young here,” Liz said. 

“She is our oldest resident and also the longest here and she brings so much to the place.”

Up until recently, Gladys had travelled on the Luas every day to Stephen’s Green where she enjoyed chatting to people in the park and indulging in strawberry ice-cream.

Already she is making plans for when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The first thing she said she’d like to do when the crisis is over is to go shopping.

“I’d love to go shopping for clothes and bits and pieces and of course see my family. I love my daughter Barbara. She is a lovely person. Every day we talk on the phone about what’s in the news and what is going on with her own family.”

She advised people to be patient and adhere to restrictions.

“We need to be patient,” she said referring to coronavirus spread.

Gladys is making the most of life in isolation and enjoys walks around the grounds to fill her days.

“We have beautiful grounds here,” she said.

The resident is known for her love of nature and enjoys looking for squirrels which can often be spotted in the nursing home’s gardens.

Despite being in isolation, Gladys said there will still be so many wonderful things about turning 104-years old.

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