100 reasons to enjoy a really good night out!
Mary Trundle Ratuski celebrated her 100th birthday, still
living in the house where she was born at 8, Montgomery
Street, Carlow Town, on August 25, 1902 writes Charlie Keegan.
A retired primary teacher, Mary Ratuski is a real character
who makes few concessions to her great age.
Possessed of a innate intelligence, quick wit and a great
sense of humour, Mary makes light of reaching such a major
milestone in life and could see little reason for all the
fuss over the weekend.
The centenarians celebrations were held on Saturday
night at McHughs Courthouse Hotel when Mary, surrounded
by family, neighbours and friends numbering about 30, blew
out the candles on a special cake and partook of a few whiskeys.
Among those present was Marys only surviving sibling,
her brother, Tommy Trundle from Naas, who is aged 89.
The former Mary Trundle was the eldest of a family of six,
in which Tommy was the youngest, and they are the last surviving
Two of her past pupils were present on Saturday night -
Fr. Pat OConnell and Eoin ODonoghue from Stradbally,
while Fr. Dan Dunne, Rector of Knockbeg College, who is
another past pupil, called to see Mary at her home on Friday.
On returning home from Saturday nights party, Mary
had, according to her daughter Marita demanded her normal
nightcap of a drop of whiskey.
Marita, the only child of Marys marriage to Czech-born
Josef Ratuski, is her mothers greatest friend and
Mary Trundle Ratuski is a proud Carlovian. She was educated
at the old Presentation College on the convergence of College
Street and Tullow Street, the location of the town library
I remember when in school, seeing the workers going
to their jobs at the Nationalist across the road,
I never missed a day in primary school, Mary
says proudly. She adds that she and a classmate, Rita Noud,
were chosen by the nuns for The Kings Scholarships
She undertook the two year teacher training course in Carysfort
College, Blackrock, and immediately obtained a teaching
post in the Boys National School in Stradbally.
Fr Lynham was parish priest in Carlow at the time
and he knew a teacher was needed in Stradbally. Mary
got the job and Stradbally was to be her only teaching post
up to her retirement in 1960.
Conditions at the school were very basic and it was not
easy for a woman, going to teach in an all-male domain,
but Mary says she never flinched from her teaching responsibilities
and always kept the best of order in her class.
She got on very well with the students and with the people
of the area.
Mary lived initially in the hotel in Stradbally but once
she purchased a new Morris Minor car from Willie ONeill
of ONeills Garage in Tullow Street, she was
able to commute to work from Carlow.
Mary says she drove carefully but remembers having to negotiate
the Windy Gap outside Stradbally twice a day.
Eventually, she decided to drive through Athy to work. At
a later stage, she bought a new Ford car which saw her though
to the end of her teaching career. She then sold the vehicle.
Her husband was a sugar cook who came to Ireland at the
establishment of the countrys first sugar processing
factory at Carlow, in 1926.
They married in the Cathedral of the Assumption around 1930
and the birth of Marita completed a happy family. Josef
died in 1975.
Mary had no option but to retire at the age of 60 and at
this stage, she must have the distinction of being the longest-pensioned
teacher in the country, after 42 years of retirement. She
did subsequently undertake some subbing work
at Scoil Mhuire gan Smál in Carlow and the local
Bishop Foley Boys National School.
In retirement, she also worked voluntarily for the Capuchin
Friary in Dublin Street,which provided great fulfilment
for her, given the fact that she is a woman of deep Christian
She smoked a little at one stage in her life but gave up
cigarettes, she says, while adding that she does continue
to enjoy her nightcap of a drop of whiskey.
Remarkably, Mary is still able to make her own way upstairs
to her bedroom.
Going back to her childhood, Mary says she was considered
a delicate child but her great age has shown her to be of
robust nature and she cannot remember being in hospital,
other than for the birth of Marita.
She watches television, roads with the aid of reading glasses,
has a good appetite and is, of course Eu2,540 richer, following
her receipt of the Presidential cheque.
Of the six Trundle siblings, Marys brothers, Joe (Cork),
Willie (Dublin), and sisters, Mrs Kathleen Ryan (Dublin)
and Mrs. Elsie Reddy of Tullow Road, Carlow are deceased.
Asked to what she attributes her long life, Mary Trundle
Ratuski says that she has no real recipe for longevity but
adds in a final flash of wit: Put it down to a joint
venture between myself and the Man Above.
Courtesy of the Carlow Nationalist