Donegal’s oldest citizen Ruby Druce rang in the New Year in style yesterday with cake, presents, and a surprise call from her favourite celebrities, Daniel and Majella O’Donnell.
Remarkable Ruby, who turned 107 on New Year’s Eve, is Ireland’s fifth oldest person.
“Another year up!,” Ruby told Donegal Daily today.
The Castlefinn native celebrated another milestone birthday at home in Letterkenny, where she lives with her niece Margo Butler.
One of the greatest gifts of the day was a phone call from Daniel and Majella O’Donnell. The popular couple phoned to wish Ruby a happy birthday and said they hoped to call to visit her someday. According to Margo, that would be the highlight of Ruby’s year.
“Ruby is a big Daniel fan, and as big a fan of Majella now too,” Margo said.
Ruby had another huge haul of cards and presents to open yesterday. Among the gifts were flowers, perfume, chocolates and holy candles. She has also enjoyed having visitors over Christmas and Facetiming relatives abroad.
Ruby remains a very independent woman, enjoys her exercise and loves to get out and about in her home village.
“I can take her out of Castlefinn but I can’t take Castlefinn out of her!,” joked Margo.
Ruby was the special guest at the Castlefinn Christmas lights switch-on this year and is very much a local celebrity.
“We be up in Castlefinn often to the doctors, the chemist and we listen to Mass from Castlefinn,” Margo said.
And after a tough few years of careful isolating during the pandemic, there are plenty of catch-ups to be had when Ruby goes to town.
“You wouldn’t get her out of any place we go in, in McGlynn’s they are all around her,” said Margo.
Born on New Year’s Eve 1915, to George Crawford and Elizabeth (née McBride), Ruby has lived a long and interesting life. She was the eldest of five children and lost two siblings, her brother James and sister Mary Elizabeth, to the Spanish Flu.
Ruby worked in Porter’s Shirt Factory from the age of 14 to 62. In 1956 she married her childhood sweetheart James Druce, who sadly passed away 14 years later.
Ruby has a great circle of nieces, one nephew, grand nieces and nephews and great grand nieces and nephews who have celebrated her birthday with her in recent days.
When asked about the secret to staying healthy, Ruby tells us: “I was always a walker, if anybody stopped their car to give me a lift I don’t take it.”
Even in her eighties, she would walk up the Hill Head of Castlefinn twice a day to visit her cousin.
And now, Ruby still does her walks around the house and chair exercises too.
“She reckons if you don’t use them you lose them,” Margo said.
“She likes to do as much for herself as she can.”
Ruby says: “I’ll do it myself while I’m able, and when I’m not able that will be the time to help.”
Walking, no alcohol and no smoking are just some of Ruby’s good habits. As far as diet goes, she loves her purdies and butter.
As she looks back on another big birthday, Ruby is also looking forward to summertime… and more opportunities to get out in the car and on the road to Castlefinn!
Happy Birthday Ruby.