Catherine Ryan – Oldest Resident In Thurles

centryanMeet Mrs Catherine Ryan of Innisfail, Kickham St., the oldest resident of Thurles, who celebrated her 100th birthday on the 8th February last.

Originally born in Portlaoise, where her father was manager of the Munster and Leinster Bank. The family, during her early years, have resided  in Portlaoise, Naas, Abbeyfeale, Dingle and Longford.

Catherine qualified as a pharmacist in 1933 and came to work in Thurles in 1937 with Mr Peter Devlin. She is presently the oldest living chemist in Ireland. Note, Peter Devlin’s pharmacy was known as Devlins Medical Hall and still exists today, currently operated by Carmel Sammon M.P.S.I.

In 1943 she married Edward J Ryan Solicitor and gave birth to their four children :- Evelyn, Jim, Mary and Christine.

When she came to Thurles in 1933 she was the highest paid woman in Thurles earning the then enormous wage of £4.0.0 per week. She also was the first lady chemist inThurles.

Catherine remembers the period prior to the Civil war very well. In Portlaoise they lived opposite the RIC Station. Liam Tobin, who was one of Michael Collins close friends and who had  travelled with the Irish cullen-collins-tobin2Treaty Delegation as part of Collins’ personal staff in October 1921, was on the run and he came to stay with Catherine’s  family for a few weeks. Liam Tobin was a cousin of her father William Burke. He stayed with the family in the guise of an Insurance adviser doing business with her father’s bank. Readers will note in the Neil Jordan film ‘Michael Collins’, Liam Tobin is portrayed by actor Brendan Gleeson.

Picture on left shows L/R  Tom Cullen, Michael Collins and Liam Tobin.
Tom Cullen and Liam Tobin were intelligence officers with the IRB.

Catherine and her family were in Abbeyfeale during the civil war which followed and at one stage members of the government army were billeted in the house. However they turned out to be a bit rough so the family moved to a house in Naas where they remained until after the truce.

Catherine has enjoyed remarkable good health all of her life and has never been sick. (She broke her leg when she was 70yrs old, broke her hip at 96yrs old and broke her pelvis a month before her 99th birthday.) She still reads the newspaper, without fail, every day but her short term memory suffers a little. For the past six months she has been confined mainly to a wheelchair but she is still up and about every day.

Belated birthday greetings to you Catherine and all here in Thurles wish you continued good health and happiness.


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