Sarah Doherty

Born: May 22 1884

Sarah was eagerly awaiting my arrival at her home in North Dublin. A delightful, active woman, fresh and youthful and full of enthusiasm for the centenarian project. Up to the age of ninety-four she rode her own bicycle and rambled for hours along country roads, she told me. Sarah was one of the best subjects (of any age) I had ever worked with and had a vivid memory of particular events up to ninety-five years in the past.

She left Ireland to work in the US when she was just fifteen, stayed for eleven years before returning to Ireland, and retained a special love of America and its people. She was so capable and so interested in what I was doing that I asked her if she would come along with me and help open the exhibition. She didn’t hesitate for a second.

On the day of the opening, radiant and beautifully dressed, she performed spectacularly well, talking with visitors, shaking hands, posing for photographs and telling tales from the past. Sarah believed long life comes from keeping worry and stress to a minimum and taking an active interest in things after retirement.

A truly terrific woman with a refined fashion sense. She told me the watch she wore for her portrait had a special significance, that she loved her striped scarf and knitted gloves, and she asked if it would be alright to wear all three. They’re all perfect, I told her, which triggered a happy smile.