Stephen Cooke from Dundevan in Mullahoran passed the 100 year old mark on St Stephen’s Day. Left is his wife Mary and on the right is retired public health nurse, Mary Brady, while their son Larry is at the back.

A visit with a special centenarian

One Mullahoran man, in his 101st year, has begun 2024 with a spring in his step and his wife still by his side.

Stephen Coyle from Dundevan celebrated his 100th birthday on St Stephen’s Day, made all the more special given he battled Covid a couple of years ago.

The Celt called to visit the couple recently to hear more about Stephen’s story.

He and Mary married in 1970 and had a family of five - their son Larry, and four daughters Mary, Catherine, Ann and Breda. The couple also have two grandsons, Jack who plays rugby with Longford and Peter.

A lorry driver all his life, Stephen was renowned for drawing large loads of turf from bogs to customers all over the region including to St Davnet’s Hospital in Monaghan in the ‘40s and ‘50s when in patients helped to unload the turf by hand.

He also drew hay to the Smithfield Market in Dublin, some of which was destined for Guinness’s horses.

Perhaps his most interesting and important load, however, was the entire Cavan football team. He packed them into a large trailer and headed for Casement Park in Belfast for an Ulster final!

A gifted mechanic, Stephen also served as a Sergeant in the FCA at Finner Camp in Donegal and imparted military skills to young recruits.

Stephen loves current affairs and politics. He attended Fine Gael selection conventions when in his 90s.

He was also an avid quizzer and many were impressed at his ability to recall facts and dates.

Stephen had four siblings Larry, Eddie, Cathy and Abby. Sadly Larry, a bus driver by profession, was shot in America after receiving his wages on a pay evening in 1971.

When the Celt called to visit Stephen, Mary Brady, former county councillor and district nurse was also present.

“Cooke’s is always a special house to visit,” she said.

“Not only is it great to have the banter with Stephen but also a joy to chat with his wife Mary, who always has the kettle on the boil and the teapot at the ready.”