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Former Ballymascanlon House owner overtaken as Ireland’s longest living person

Katherine Plunket

Katherine Plunket

The former owner of Ballymascanlon House, Katherine Plunket, has been overtaken as the longest living Irish person ever.

Ms Plunket, who was born in Dundalk on November 22nd 1820 and died on October 14th 1932 at the age of 111 years and 327 days, has held the title of Ireland’s oldest living person for over 80 years.

However, she has now been surpassed by Clare native Kathleen Hayes Rollins Snavelly, who now resides in Syracuse, New York in the United States.

Plunket was a member of the Irish aristocracy. She was a granddaughter of a Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who became the first Baron Plunket. Her father was a junior clergyman when she was born and later became a bishop. He also inherited the title and became the second Baron Plunket. Her mother was the daughter of a Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and was related to the Earl of Clermont.

The eldest of six children, one of whom died in infancy, she was baptised in Kilsaran Church, on December 13th 1820 as Catherine Plunket, though she spelled her name with a “K” for her entire life.

She inherited from her mother one of the family’s ancestral homes, Ballymascanlon House – now a hotel – near Dundalk, and oversaw the upkeep of the home and gardens until she contracted bronchitis at the age of 102 which was her only serious health problem.

As the daughter of a baron, her full title was the Honourable Katherine Plunket. She never married and she outlived all her sisters. After her sister Gertrude died in 1924, she lived alone with her servants, but continued to be visited by other members of her family.

When she reached the age of 109 she was sent a telegram of congratulation by King George V. When she died, King George V sent a telegram of condolence to her relatives. It was in Ballymascanlon House that she died on October 14th 1932, with her obitunary appearing in papers both in Ireland and in England.

Her death was registered on Oct 17, 1932 in the district of Ravensdale in the union of Dundalk in Louth. Her name is given as The Hon Katherine Plunket, spinster, aged 111 years and 11 months, occupation Lady. The certified cause of death was syncope.

Her record as the oldest living Irish person stood proudly for almost a century. Other locals appearing in the list include James Hanlon (October 17th 1891 – February 27th 2001) in 11th and Sr Anthony Dolan (December 23rd 1893 to March 26th 2002) in 24th.

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