Print

99 years of achievement

Mai Tallent on her 99th Birthday with her daughter Ben

I’d like to wish a really Happy Birthday to my Aunt, Mai Tallent.  Mai is in hospital in Kilkenny and is doing well.  She has had a very full life over the past 99 years.

Mai was born Mai Gorey from Sheestown in County Kilkenny.  She trained as a butter maker, spent two years in Ramsgate and then returned to Bennetsbridge Creamery.  She married, “the Squire” of Sheestown, Jack Tallent, my uncle (my father’s older brother).  Jack was one of 15 kids, a large family by any reckoning.  She received many visitors yesterday and loads of cards and well wishes.

She had one son, Toby and three daughters, Lucy, Mary and Ben and now has five great-grandchildren.  Toby died in 1989, aged 42, of lung cancer.  He didn’t drink or smoke and was a very fit farmer. I remember seeing him in Peamont hospital in Dublin and Kilkenny.  Toby was the closest I had to a brother.  Here is an article I wrote two years ago

Mai was born after the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916.  She lived through a century that had the bloodiest and costliest warfare in human history. Two world wars, two Russian revolutions – the second one created the world’s first communist country and Czar Nicholas II and His Family were Killed, proclamation of the Irish Free State after the Irish war of Independence, Turkish war of Independence, Polish-Soviet war, Sino-Japanese war, second Italo-Ethiopian war, Spanish Civil war, Chinese civil wars, Cold war, Greek Civil war, three IndoChina wars, Khamer Issarak war, Israeli war of Independence, Malayan war, Korean war, Algerian war of independence, Suez war, Sino-Indian war, two Kashmir wars, 6-day war, Warsaw pact, Yom Kippur war, Ogaden war, China-Vietnam war, Thai-Laotian war, Afghan Civil war, Iranian hostage crisis, Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Iran-Iraq War, Falklands War, Israeli Invasion and Occupation of Southern Lebanon, Invasion of Grenada, Gulf War, three Balkan Wars, two Chechen Wars andCongo War.

Mai Tallent on her 90th Birthday with some of her familyShe oversaw many inventions that included the light bulb, popup toaster, traffic lights, television, penicillin, bubble gum, electric shaver, zoom lens, parking meters, canned beer, jet engines, ballpoint pens, helicopter, aerosols, computers, internet, kidney dialysis machine, microwaves, Velcro, credit cards, super glue, Teflon, hovercraft, pacemaker, calculator, ATM, post-it notes, mobile phones, electric car, youtube, google, etc.

Mai was there when women were granted the right to vote in USA, when Pluto was discovered and now when Pluto was visited, when the ‘war of the worlds’ caused panic, when the ‘peanuts’ cartoon strip started, when James Bond became the best known secret agent, when Rod Stewart played to 3.5 million people at Copacabana Beach, when JFK, Indira Ghandi, Martin Luther King and John Lennon were killed, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, when the Berlin Wall was torn down, etc.

Mai & Lucy Tallent on the occasion of Mai's 90th birthdayShe saw the world survive into the 21st century after the Y2K bug which was supposed to cripple the entire world at 12.01am on 1/1/2000 never happened.  Other things that never happened were the return of Jesus Christ, apocalyptic disasters and other things.

She saw the average lifespan extend from 50 years in 1916 to late 80’s in this century and she has well and truly broken that record by reaching 99.  I hope she reaches 100 so that she can get her cheque from President Higgins of €2540 and a congratulatory letter.  On her 101st and every subsequent birthday, Mai will receive a special commemorative coin in a presentation box, along with a congratulatory letter signed by the President. A new coin is designed for each year.

Happy Birthday Mai and I hope you get loads of commemorative coins.