A PORTAFERRY resident, who was born before the Partition of Ireland and who saw Stormont being built, has celebrated her 105th birthday.

Selina Cowdy, born on June 25, 1918 during the final months of the First World War, spent her 105th birthday surrounded by her family in a residential home in the seaside town.

The oldest resident at Ard Cuan residential home, Selina has also seen the reign of five monarchs, two of whom sent her a card – 100th birthday card came from the late Queen Elizabeth II, and King Charles sent one for her recent 105th.

She also received her fifth commemorative coin from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, an accolade given to residents on the island who reach their 101st birthday and beyond.

Born in Islandmagee to William and Selina Lynas, she was one of 10 children. The centenarian grew up at the Gate Lodge in Stormont before the iconic white parliament building was built in 1932. Her father was the head ranger tending to the grounds at the property.

“She actually lived at the Gate Lodge at Stormont, she grew up there,” said her son Michael. “That was before the parliament buildings were built and she would have been there when they were building Stormont as we know it.”

Selina married Jeremiah Cowdy in 1941, though he would sadly pass away in 1983. Together, they had two children, Michael and Linda Chambers. She is now a grandmother to four, great grandmother to eight, and a great-great grandmother to one.

On the career front, Selina entered the world of work at 15 years old, making ropes for ships in Belfast. In her later years, she worked for the Water Service near her childhood home at the Stormont. She mapped rivers, a job her daughter-in-law Valerie Cowdy, who worked a floor apart from Selina, said she was quite skilled at. 

“It was very intricate work she did,” says Valerie. “She mapped the rivers and it was all very small letter work. She was very good at it, they preferred her to some of the other workers, it was very appreciated.”

Living independently in Belfast until 2020, she was unfortunately hospitalised due to a fall. Now, she is well looked after at the Ard Cuan care home in Portaferry.

For her 100th birthday in 2018, Selina celebrated at La Mon House Hotel, red carpet and all, with her entire family. This year, a get together was held at the Ard Cuan care home, with birthday banners, cake and good company.

“She had a wee gin and tonic on Sunday past,” said Valery. “And blew the candles out on her cake.”

When the question to the secret to a lengthy life arose, Valerie says Selina swore by her little nip of brandy with her morning coffee.