Published Monday, 22 October 2012
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The First World War, The Easter Rising, Women's Suffrage, the Wall Street Crash... these are just a few of the momentous events of the 20th century that still hadn't occurred when Cissie McGivern was born.

She came into the world the same year that the Titanic sank and the Ulster Covenant was signed.

At a hundred years of age she herself is a living milestone.

When we arrived at Cissie's house she had tea and buns all ready for us and the kettle on the range never cooled all the time we were there. She is no less hospitable, no less energetic, no less commanding a figure, simply because she has reached her first century.

Although she has seen many hardships throughout her long life and is the sole surviving member of her immediate family, all of whom she practically raised herself, she remains resolutely cheerful and industrious.

She belongs to that generation of people who had to do most things for themselves and who developed a range of skills to help them survive. Cissie has always been very handy with the knitting needles and she pulled out samples of her recent handiwork which showed that she still makes jumpers, cardigans, scarves, vests and socks for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She also makes them for camera crews. Nothing would do her but to kit us all out in warm woolly socks for the weather that was in it. We tried to refuse out of politeness, not wanting to take advantage of her generous and impulsive nature, but we soon realised that it was much more polite to accept her gifts.

No sooner had we agreed to accept than we started arguing over who would get what socks.

Everybody wanted a particular colour, a particular length, a particular pattern and so on. I had to pull rank, purely in the interests of keeping the peace you understand, and insist that I was taking the green pair with the reinforced soles because they would match my wellies. Which they did. And still do. They are the warmest, cosiest socks I have ever owned.

Having warmed our feet, Cissie also warmed our hearts by taking out her mouth-organ and blowing a few tunes for us.

There are two things I would like to do before I reach Cissie's age. One is to play the mouth organ and the other is to learn to knit. I've tried to learn both on a number of occasions but to no avail. I don't have Cissie's dexterity, even if she is a hundred years old.

But I'll persevere. As Cissie says, I have plenty of time.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Amanda in Broughshane wrote (828 days ago):
Cissie is an amazing women, such an inspiration to us all, if only there were more like her.. Would love to meet
David in Fermanagh wrote (829 days ago):
Progammes like last night's (even though I watched it tonight!) show why UTV are miles ahead of BBC etc Well done Joe and UTV withe the likes of Cissie and Lesser Spotted Ulster :-) KEEP IT UP
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Joe Mahon
Joe Mahon

Joe Mahon is the presenter of UTV's long-running series Lesser Spotted Ulster.

He is a man who has seen more of the nooks and crannies of the Ulster countryside than anyone else.

His travels for the show have seen him cross land and sea finding the hidden histories of the local landscape.

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