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World Record: Six siblings in one Galway family reach 100

The family were awarded a Guinness World Record for having the most family members reach 100 years of age.

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SIX MEMBERS OF this family from Loughrea in County Galway lived to see their 100th birthday, which relatives hope will mean another world record is on its way.

In 2014, the family were awarded a Guinness World Record for having the most family members reach 100 years of age.

Last week, Sheila Burns nee Clarke from Castlenancy, Mullagh, Loughrea, celebrated her 100th birthday. She is the youngest of her family of thirteen.

Madge & Sheila July 2012 001 Madge and Sheila (2012)

Five of her family members previously reached 100 with Madge Fanning (Clarke) celebrating the milestone birthday last year.

Her brother Joe Clarke was the first to reach the milestone in 2001. His brother Charlie followed in 2002, then Pat in 2003, Jimmy in 2006 and Madge in 2014.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Madge’s son Joe Fanning said they have filed documents with the Guinness World Records again to update their award, which he was told would be pretty straight forward.

“This time around it is a lot easier, as it is only one set of marriage, birth certificates etc I need to send away.”

Fanning says the family were very close and led full lives. The Clarke family is made up of nine boys and four girls, six in the 100 club, four in the ninety, one in the eighty club, one in the seventy club and one in the fifty club.

clarke 3

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 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.

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Sheila, the latest to enter the 100-year club was married and later moved to Portumna.

She ran a grocery and butcher shop. She has lived in Portumna Retirement Village for the last eight years. Last weekend she celebrated her birthday with close family there.

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download (11) Margaret Clarke (Coen) - Sheila's mother who died in 1975.

The Clarke family go one step further, with Sheila’s mother also living until she was 101. However, she sadly died as a result of a motor crash.

So what is their secret?

Joe Fanning told TheJournal.ie he would also like to know.

He said he has written to specialists in DNA testing to see if it is possible to see why his family have such longevity.

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.

EOD_9791 Clarke Family 1998 - Sheila, Madge, Cias, Jack and Cha, Hubert, James, Pat and Joe (Joe, Cha, Pat, James, Madge and Sheila - all reached the age of 100) Source: Eamon O'Daly

“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.

download (10) The Clarke family.

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