Norah Wright celebrated her 100th birthday last week, but according to her son Maurice, she has never claimed to know the secret to long life.
Born and raised near Donaghcloney, Norah decamped to the Lisburn area upon her marriage, to George, in 1951 and it was at Rose Lodge Nursing Home on Belsize Road in the city that friends and family gathered to celebrate her major milestone moment.
The centenarian lived at her long-time Lambeg home until just three years ago, when the need for nursing care forced a move, first to a residential home in Anahilt, then to Rose Lodge.
Furnished with the traditional telegram from the Queen, Norah ushered in her century at the heart of her family, some of whom travelled from their homes in England and Wales for the special occasion.
Among them were Norah and George’s only son Maurice, his wife Yvonne, their daughters Lynda and Alison, Alison’s husband Andrew and their six-year-old triplets Ben, Jack and Thomas.
Hillsborough man Maurice was thankful for the presence of another guest, Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh, Councillor Thomas Beckett.
“It was very good of the Mayor to come along,” said Maurice, “and my mother enjoyed his company.”
Some of the details of Norah’s early life are sketchy, but it’s believed she attended primary school in Donaghcloney and first worked in a factory there, while attending church in Magheralin.
During World War Two she worked as a civil servant in ‘war damage’ in Belfast, cycling daily to Lurgan to take the train into the city.
It was at work that she met her husband-to-be, and in 1951 the newlyweds settled in Lambeg, Norah later staying at home to look after Maurice, who was born in 1953.
Norah was to return to the civil service and worked in Lisburn’s driving test centre and then the Water Service at Harmony Hill, until retirement.
“She was a hard worker,” said Maurice, “but gardening was her real passion; she had a big garden and looked after it well into her 80s.”
Of his mother’s big day last week, he added: “It was a very good ay, with friends and family gathered round. My mother’s memory is not too good, but she recognised some of the names and faces; I think she had a good day and enjoyed herself.”