Cork's Auntie Nelly born in 1916 turns 104...

A much-loved woman from Liscarroll. who spent most of her life in Mallow, turned 104 recently. CHRIS DUNNE found out about the life and times of Nellie Haugh
Cork's Auntie Nelly born in 1916 turns 104...

Elizabeth Deane with Aunt Nelly Haugh, who turned 104 recently.

AUNTIE Nelly, who celebrated her 104th birthday recently, is everyone’s favourite auntie.

“Nelly is an absolutely fabulous woman!” says Nelly’s niece Elizabeth Costelloe.

Nelly Haugh, from Highfort, Liscarroll, is not a resident of the sprightly town-land of Oki nawa, Japan, nor of the Greek Island of Ikaria, where natives enjoy unbelievable longevity. Nellie is a resident, since 2005, in the Brittany Unit at Nazereth House in Mallow. She was born in 1916, the year of the Easter Rising.

“Nelly is very popular with all our staff and all our clients,” says Clinical Staff nurse, Kathleen Holland.

“She has great time for her nieces and nephews who come to visit her when they are permitted to.

“Hopefully, people can look forward to family visits again when Covid-19 restrictions are lessened or lifted.”

Nelly Haugh originaly from Liscarroll and lived in Mallow most of her life.
Nelly Haugh originaly from Liscarroll and lived in Mallow most of her life.

Nelly was the centre of attention when she was 100 years old.

“On her 100th birthday, Nellie received the ‘Centenarian Bounty’ from the President, a cheque for €2,540, and a lovely letter congratulating her on her centenary year,” says Kathleen.

“Every year afterwards, Nelly has received a commemoration medal. She is the owner of three very precious medals!”

Nelly, who worked all her life as a cook, first in Mallow General Hospital and later in St. Stephen’s Hospital, Glanmire, until her retirement in 1981, was a very good cook.

“She was thrilled with her birthday cake baked in house and she enjoyed a fine slice of it,” says Kathleen.

“The other residents enjoyed a piece of cake too.

“Nelly has a good appetite!”

She also has a good sense of humour.

“Nelly loves sharing little jokes and the bit of banter.

“She is very alert and she always has a good demeanour.”

She looks well for her age.

“Nelly has beautiful soft hair,” says Donna.

“It is really lovely and it’s always beautifully styled.”

Nelly’s favourite subject at school was English.

“She loved reading books and writing stories,” says Kathleen.

“Woman’s Way magazine was a favourite of hers.”

Nelly has favourite memories.

“She’d often recall singing and dancing with her best friend Peg in the farm at home,” says Kathleen.

“Nelly and Peg went dancing together back in the day.”

Nelly is interested in local news.

“Nelly loved people calling to see her,” says Kathleen.

“We all miss the inter-action with visitors during Covid.

“Nelly loved getting the local news and catching up with her nieces and nephews who came to sit and talk with her.”

Nelly was always special.

“She really liked that they made the time for her.”

Nelly had stories of her own to tell.

“Nelly is a nature lover,” says Kathleen.

“She loves birds and animals. She’d often tell stories of her youth being out in the fields on the farm at home.”

Nelly owned her own house and she drove her own car.

“Nelly, a farmer’s daughter, was born in Liscarroll and she lived in Fair Street, Mallow 10 miles away for much of her life,” says Nelly’s niece Elizabeth.

Nelly Haugh with Grand-niece Jessica Deane.
Nelly Haugh with Grand-niece Jessica Deane.

“She was one of 10 children, some of whom emigrated to America.”

Nelly and her two sisters remained at home with their parents.

“Nelly is the only surviving member of the family.

“Nelly was always a hard worker, starting work at a young age in the kitchen at Mallow General Hospital. She became head cook at St. Stephen’s Hospital, Glanmire.

“And and she never drank or smoked,” says Elizabeth.

She never married either.

Could that be the secret of longevity?

Elizabeth laughs.

“It could very well be!” she says.

Nelly was very sociable.

“She loved music, especially Irish music and she loved dancing.”

Nelly had another string to her bow.

“She played the violin since the age of 10,” says Elizabeth.

“At school she loved English and reading books.”

Nelly, a happy-go-lucky person, always saw the glass half-full.

“Nelly loved people and she enjoyed singing and dancing. She was always in good form and very cheerful,” says Elizabeth.

“When she was 100 she was extremely upbeat even though she doubted if she’d reach 101!”

But Nelly at 104, is still going strong.

Her generous nature brought rewards all through her long life.

“She was always very good to my family,” says Elizabeth.

“She bought my mum and dad’s first car for them. Nelly was always a giver and she never accepted anything for herself. One Christmas we brought her a Christmas tree because her own tree was falling apart.”

Nelly was having none of it.

“Take it away!” she said.

“I don’t need it.”

Nelly’s kind nature was well-known.

“Nelly was always a giver; never a taker. She is one in a million, an unbelievable woman who went through hard times.” She was resilient.

“Often she’d have out-of-date stuff in the kitchen like yogurts. She never took any notice of the date on the carton or packet and she ate it anyway!”

Nelly probably strengthened her immune system?

“She probably did!” says Elizabeth.

Nelly kept old habits.

“She loved salty bacon. She was very healthy and very hardy.

“She lived well even though didn’t believe in having any luxuries.”

She had no nonsense.

“She didn’t have any ‘fandangles’ around her!”

Nelly was always surrounded by her loved ones.

“She loves children and they love her.”

Nelly’s family spread the love from afar on her 104th birthday.

“We waved in to her through the window at the nursing home,” says Elizabeth.

“She knew us and she was delighted to see us. We were delighted to see her. Nelly understood it was her special day.”

Elizabeth, like all Nelly’s relations, realise they are privileged to have such a special lady in their lives.

“Auntie Nelly is a one-off, a great woman who is one of a kind.”

She was always in good form and very cheerful. When she was 100 she was extremely upbeat even though she doubted if she’d reach 101.

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