Friends and family gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mayo native Mary Oliver (nee Griffin) at Kingsbury Service Club.
Mary, born in Cloonamna, Kilmovee in 1915, is one of eight children, and lost her mother Mary to childbirth in 1929, leaving her father James to raise the family on his own.
It forced her older siblings to emigrate to try to support their father, and at the age of 18 Mary also left home and headed for Wales.
Two sisters had left before her; Annie living in Cricklewood and working in McVities in Harlesden, and Kathleen in a hotel in Wales, with the promise of a job for Mary.
However, when she arrived she was greeted by Kathleen with a ticket for Paddington as the job was gone.
With just a few pennies in her pocket she arrived at Annie’s door, and the next morning started work at McVities, walking from Cricklewood to Harlesden to save the penny-bus-fare.
She soon found a housekeeping job in Manor House Drive and continued to work there well into her 80s.
Mary met her husband Tom, ‘a good dancer, but not as good as her’ soon afterwards and they married on Christmas Day 1943 at Quex Road, Kilburn, as everyone could get Christmas Day off and there was less chance of a German bombing raid.
They set up home in Willesden Green where they were to spend more than 50 years of married life and had six children; Frank, Maureen, Michael, Veronica, Paul and Teresa.
To Mary her family, and the Catholic Church, were everything, very little else mattered in her life.
Mary’s children have also all married, presenting Mary with 19 grandchildren and up to now 19 great grandchildren, with another expected in Dublin, on Mary’s 100th birthday!
Mary says: “I was born at the wrong time” when looking at all the progress and improvements made during her lifetime, but she always added “but I wouldn’t change a thing”.
She used to talk about people who reach a 100 years old and say “that’s not for folk like us, now if I had been born the Queen Mother, with her life, I might reach 100.