A Lambeth lady who made her home in Londonderry, and latterly Limavady, celebrated her 100th birthday in style on Friday, Cornfield Care Centre, Limavady, where she now resides.
Irene Moore (McGonigle), or Renee, as she has always been affectionately known by her family and friends, was born in the Borough of Lambeth, London on April 29, 1916, to parents Rudolph and Nellie Harman and lived there for the first 20 years of her life. On leaving school she attended cooking college, gaining a lot of cooking skills which she used to the great advantage of her family and friends for many years.
It was in 1936 she came to Londonderry to visit a friend, Lily Edgar, and met her husband to be, Robert (Bertie) McGonigle. Bertie decided to follow her to London and found a job as a postman, but as most good Derry men and women, he had to return home, and brought Renee with him.
The couple were married in St Columb’s Cathedral on August 10, 1937 and her bridesmaid was her good friend Lily Edgar, who had brought them together.
Renee and Bertie originally lived in Windmill Terrace, known locally as ‘The Dark Lane’ as well as a couple of other locations in the city, until they finally got a council house in Northland Parade in 1950. It was in this house that Renee lived until she had to go into a care home in December 2013, a period of 63 years.
Unfortunately, Bertie died in 1966 when Renee was just 50 years old. She remarried in the mid 1970s, albeit briefly and thereafter lived on her own in Northland Parade until 2013 and her admittance to a care home.
She has a family of three; a daughter, Ella, and two sons, Jim and Robert, who all still live in the city. Renee is a doting grandmother to eight grandchildren, has 14 great grandchildren and can boast of having 11 great great grandchildren.
Renee had a wide and varied number of jobs in her working life as she worked in reception in Clarendon Street medical practice and during that time she also did babysitting for Dr Lindsey, one of the practice doctors.
She also worked in the old City and County Hospital, Austin’s department store, where she worked in the toy department and even did a bit of in-store fashion modelling in her day.
In her latter working life she was employed as a domestic in Magee University and retired from there in 1981.
On Friday, among her many messages of congratulations, Renee received her congratulatory birthday message from the Queen and was visited on her birthday by the Queen’s representative, the Vice Lord Lieutenant for County Londonderry, Mrs Stella Burnside, who attended the birthday party arranged by Renee’s family in Cornfield Care Centre.
Also in attendance was The Dean of Derry, the Very Rev Dr William Morton DL.
Renee is a remarkable lady for her age, borne out by the fact that she lived on her own well into her 97th year and looks younger than her fabulous age of 100. She is in very good health for her age and will hopefully remain that way and see many more years beyond this magnificent milestone.