Dublin woman (108) dies in South Africa

 

A DUBLIN woman who emigrated to South Africa when she was 90 has died in her adopted home at the age of 108.

Kitty Ball, who was born in Skerries in 1901, moved to Knysna in the Western Cape 18 years ago to spend more time with her only child, Alice, her six grandchildren and great granddaughter.

She died there on Saturday after her health deteriorated following a fall.

Ms Ball, who attributed her long life to a drop of sherry every morning at 11, married Robert Ball in Limerick. After she was widowed, she began to travel extensively throughout Europe, helping to repatriate the displaced people of the second World War.

"Her brain has been very active all these years. When she was widowed, she became extremely self-reliant and I believe that is what kept her mind so lively all these years," said her niece, Joan O'Connor.

During her time in South Africa, Ms Ball became something of a local celebrity and was known as "the national treasure", said Ms O'Connor. Her 100th birthday was a village-wide celebration, with guests including the mayor and archbishop of Knysna.

An avid Munster fan, Ms Ball would frequently contact her niece and family in Malahide, Co Dublin, to discuss the results of a match.

"There wasn't any sport she didn't watch. Tennis was always on in the house, and she was a big supporter of rugby, particularly Munster."

Eventually Ms Ball hired a housekeeper for some help, but the housekeeper was only hired to work one day a week. For the past three years, the great grandmother had lived with her daughter and never saw the need to enter a nursing home, because she believed it was "for old people".

"Her doctor eventually told her to stop visiting him because he said she was healthier than he was," said Ms O'Connor. Ms Ball has accredited her long life to a glass of sherry taken every morning at 11 am.

One month ago, Ms Ball fell and fractured her hip and then became possibly the oldest person to ever have a hip replacement at 107 years of age. In December, her health began to deteriorate as a result of her fall and on January 3rd, Ms Ball died.

"She truly was an amazing person and an inspiration us all," said Ms O'Connor.