IDENTICAL twins Joan Barrett and Kay Bogan celebrated their 99th birthday today at a nursing home in Douglas in Cork with staff attributing their longevity to their positive attitude to life.
Director of Nursing at Daraglynn Nursing Home, Mary Conroy, said that it was heartwarming to see the siblings mark such a milestone age alongside each other in the home.
“Joan is in better health. She sings. She dances and is mobile around the home. She is great. She is coherent and entertaining. The sisters cut their cake this morning.
"Joan was a confectioner with Thompson’s Bakery. She was also in America as a nanny to dignitaries where they brought her to lots of famous places. She even met the Kennedy family.
"Kay was the head usher in the Savoy Cinema in Cork in the 1950s which was very prestigious. She was involved in the film festivals and so on.”
Mary says that the sisters enjoy their life in the home.
"Kay is here over two years and Joan is here since July. Kay is much more frail but they are very identical.
"If one of the sisters was going home you wouldn’t know the difference as they are so alike. Joan said that they would fight when they were young but they would always love each other and make up. Joan can’t really believe she is 99 at all.
"It was wonderful for the nursing home to be able to have a cake and the family there. Joan had her glass of wine and she has her vodka every night before she goes to sleep. She is enjoying it. Obviously she has to be assessed before we give her anything (alcoholic) but she is doing well.”
Meanwhile, Joan said that she was enjoying every minute of the festivities.
“We are having a cake and the family are here.”
The siblings were born on December 10th, 1922 at North Main Street in Cork with Kay entering the world first and Joan following forty minutes later.
Initially they lived with cousins who had a pub in North Main Street. Their father was an injured member of the Welsh Fusiliers in World War I and the family moved into houses built for ex-military in Whitethorn in Douglas Road, Cork city.
Kay and Joan grew up in Whitethorn with their parents and four siblings. Kay was Head Usherette in the Savoy Cinema in Cork city in the 1940s and into the 50s until she had to leave her position when she married her husband Jim in 1957. Jim was a watchmaker and musician.
He died suddenly at the age of fifty in 1974 and Kay raised three children in the Bogan family home in Anglesea Terrace, Cork. In her later life, she lived with her daughter and son-in-law in Kinsale Road in Cork before moving into the nursing home in recent years. She has one granddaughter and one grandson.
Joan worked in Thompsons Bakery as a confectioner in Cork in the 1940s and then moved to Tipperary and Dublin in the 50s and 60s. She attended Patrick Kavanagh's wedding and made the wedding cake for the happy couple.
Joan moved to Boston in 1972 and became a nanny to two children there. She remained with this family for over twenty years, even though the kids had grown up and left home. The family brought Joan on vacations to Martha's Vineyard and to Florida. They included her in all their social engagements, including Kennedy weddings.
In 1996 she returned to the family home in Whitethorn to care for her older sister who passed away in 2003. She lived there independently until July of this year.
Although Joan never married and did not have any children of her own, her loved ones say that has always enjoyed the company of her nieces and nephews.