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Tuesday 6 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# what's the secret?
Five members of this family lived to see 100 and they're hoping it's a world record
The family have made an application to the Guinness World Records.

Clarke Family 1916 001 Joe Fanning Joe Fanning

FIVE SIBLINGS OF this family from Loughrea in County Galway lived to see their 100th birthday, which the family hopes is some sort of record.

Madge Fanning (Clarke) (pictured above sitting on her mother’s knee) celebrated her 100th birthday this year, making her the fifth sibling in her family to reach the milestone birthday.

The family believe that this is a new record, with one family in the UK holding the record with four siblings reaching 100.

The Clarke family go one step further, with Madge’s mother also living until she was 101, but the record only stands for immediate siblings, they were told.

clarkesfag Joe Fanning The Clarke Family in 1974 Joe Fanning


Speaking to, Madge’s son Joe Fanning said they filed documents with the Guinness World Records and hope to hear back soon.

Fanning says his mother and uncles all lived full lives, with many living past the age of 100.

Charles Clarke (1902 – 2002) was taken by the Black and Tans in 1921 and was kept in the Curragh for over a year. “He was a founder member of An Garda Siochana in 1922, and was presented with his 100th birthday cheque from the Garda Commissioner in a ceremony in his honour,” explained Joe.

Joe Clarke (1901 – 2002) died just one day after celebrating his 101st birthday, while his brother Pat Clarke (1903-2005) died seven months after celebrating his 101th.

James (Jimmy) Clarke (1906-2009) emigrated to New York in 1927. “He left and Hubert, his brother followed. They knew that the small farm they had in Galway could not sustain the whole family so they did what many people did and left. Jimmy died in New York four months before his 103rd birthday.”

Madge, the last surviving member, was born in 1914. She met her husband, a Dublin man called James and moved to Dublin to live in Skerries in 1937 where she opened a seaside shop.

Last surviving family member

Madge has eight children seven boys and one girl, fifteen grandchildren and sixteen great grandchildren.

So what is their secret?

“My granny, (Madge’s mother who lived to be 101) always said everything in moderation is good for you,” he said, who said that tragically his grandmother died at 101 in a motor accident while out shopping for an outfit for one of her grandchildren’s weddings. At the time of her death she had seventy nine grandchildren.

granny Margaret Clarke (Coen) - Madge's mother who died in 1975.

“They were all just very easy going,” explained Joe, who added that his mother has no real answer to give as to why they live so long, other that they never got overly-excited or stressed out,” said Joe.

Madge also said none of them were big drinkers, with some of them never touching a drink.

“Family is a huge thing though. All the siblings looked after each other and after they passed on the grandchildren and great grandchildren stepped in,” said Joe.

The Clarke’s family story was recently featured on RTÉ’s Nationwide.

gtt Screengrab / RTÉ Madge Clarke, aged 100. Screengrab / RTÉ / RTÉ

“I had a great life. I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Madge.

She said she loves to see families staying with each other and loving one another. “I say a few rosaries every day to thank God for my long life”.

family Screengrab / RTÉ The Clarke family gathered around Madge on her 100th birthday. Screengrab / RTÉ / RTÉ

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