Funeral arrangements for Nancy Stewart

The funeral arrangements for Nancy Stewart who died peacefully on Friday just a month short of her 108th birthday have been released, the notice reads:

"Anne (Nancy) Stewart, nee Bird, Towlagh, Clonard, Co. Meath, September 10th 2021, in her 108th year, peacefully, in her family home. Loving wife of the late Bob and her twin daughters Margaret and Ann. Adored mother of Finian (Bob), Kathleen, Mary and Olive. Deeply regretted by her daughter in law Alcoque, sons in law Des, John, Mattie, and the late Joe and Michael, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, relatives. Her much-loved carers, neighbours and her many friends."

Nancy reposed at her family home on this Saturday evening from 5-7pm with Covid guidelines in place. Due to government advice, the capacity of the church is limited to 50%. Requiem Mass will take place this Sunday at 2 pm in St Finian’s Church, Clonard, Co. Meath, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery. Those that would have liked to attend, but due to regulations, cannot may leave a message in the condolences section for Nancy’s family.

In a poignant post on social media, granddaughter Louise Coghlan wrote: "What will I do without my beautiful smiling Nancy? Broken heart waking up this morning to only 1 cup of tea needing to be made…this incoming grief is going to be a titanic heartbreak in my life but one thing I’m sure, Nancy definitley put on my life jacket before she left, I just need to float."

In the early days of the coronavirus Nancy appealed to people not to panic buy or stress and then last October at the age of 107, she penned an open letter to the people of Ireland which caught the imagination of the nation.

“We are in another stage of this battle against the virus but we will get through this. Like everything I’ve been through since the day I was born in 1913, no matter how bad things have got, I’m the living proof that we can survive and in years to come, this will just be a distant memory.”

Born on 16th October, 1913 in Castlerickard, Nancy was older than the State, and lived mostly independently in her own home with the help of family who stayed with her.

She attributed her long life to "good food, good friends and staying positive."

"You also should look on the bright side all the time, no matter what. Don't dwell on the past," she said.

Nancy waving to wellwishers at her Clonard home on the occasion ofher 107th birthday. Photo by Thomas Gibbons

Nancy continued to have a great memory and could remember the Bishop arriving to her primary school on horseback. She also has vivid memories of the Black & Tans and World War II.

In 1989, Nancy lost her husband Bob in a car crash while they were both travelling to Mass, Tragically, she was in hosptital for five days with a facial injury before regaining consciousness to discover that not only had the love of her life died, but that she had missed his funeral too.

She also had to say goodbye to her daughter Margaret who died from motor neurone disease and her twin Ann who died suddenly some years later.

Garda Conor Caffrey and Garda Edel Dugdale made a presentation to Nancy. Photo by Thomas Gibbons

Nancy never missed voting in an election but coyly never told anyone who she has voted for.

"I'd always tell everyone to get out and vote," said Nancy.

"Your country needs you and it's your duty. You have to be a voice for those who are too young to vote. You can't complain about the state of the country if you don't vote. You can only complain if you do."

When Nancy celebrated her 107th birthday last year, her beloved Clonard community was determined to mark the occasion in style.

Louise Coghlan, granddaughter and carer for Nancy Stewart helping Nancy show off her medals from the President which she received every year after turning 100. PHOTO: Seamus Farrelly

Cars arrived in their hundreds at Clonard GAA grounds with balloons, bunting and special ‘Nancy 107’ number plates as the wellwishers prepared to set off in convoy to Nancy’s cottage a mile from the village.

Nancy, however, had other ideas and arrived at the grounds in her granddaughter and carer Louise’s Coghlan’s car. She smiled out from the window while enthusiastically waving the Tricolour, thanking the startled volunteers she’d caught by surprise.


Nancy surprises wellwishers with her 107th birthday spin