THE COYLE family have been celebrating the 100th birthday of their mother, Eileen.

The family, who reside in the Ards and North Down area, joined with Eileen and the staff at Kirk House in Belfast, on July 9, to mark her birthday milestone.

Eileen was born in Sunderland, the eldest daughter of Margaret and Ralph Snowball, and around the age of seven, the family moved to Belfast where her father had secured work.

She was very involved in Sydenham Methodist Church from her early years, going to the CE, attending Sunday School and even singing solos in the Junior Choir.

Eileen attended Strand Primary School until she was 14, finishing school on the Friday and starting work on the Monday in Jenkins of Bedford Street where she worked as a tamborer (an embroiderer with wool for chair backs etc).

At the age of 15, she met her future husband, Billy, and they married in 1943. Two years later they had their first child, Ralph, but sadly he passed away at only a few months old.

They went on to have three more sons – Alan, David and Stephen – tragically, David passed away suddenly in 1970.

In December 2019 Eileen was no longer able to live alone and moved into Kirk House just before the pandemic struck.  Sadly the lack of socialising during Covid had a big impact on her social skills and she became less communicative but nevertheless is still very content and happy, according to her family.

Along with her two sons, Eileen has three grandsons and a granddaughter and seven great grandchildren (aged from 16 to a few weeks old).