‘His secret is that he’s a bachelor’: Roscommon native Michael Coyne turns 106

The ‘fit, hard-working’ non-smoker marked his birthday with a bowl of soup and a ‘half one of Jameson’

Michael Coyne celebrates his 106th birthday in Cryan's Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, on Saturday. Photograph: Brian Farrell

They didn’t put 106 candles on his birthday cake but if they had Michael Coyne would have had no problem blowing them all out, according to those who joined him in celebrating on Saturday.

The native of Fairymount, near Castlerea, Co Roscommon, marked the special birthday with a bowl of soup and a “half one of Jameson with a dash of lime” at Cryan’s hotel in Carrick on Shannon, where he was treated “like a celebrity”, according to his 60-something godson, Austin Waldron.

Austin and Michael’s nephew and carer, Neil McGarry, struggled to keep up with the birthday boy who was still driving at 98 and who still reads the Roscommon Herald every week without bothering to put on his glasses.

According to Neil, his uncle was thrilled with the amount of goodwill shown to him over the weekend. He will soon be able to wallpaper the front room with letters of congratulations from president Michael D Higgins, who to his delight has been getting in touch every year since he turned 100 when he received the Centenarian Bounty of €2,540. Michael was also chuffed to receive a handmade card on Saturday from Max McDonald, a neighbour in Sycamore Crescent, Boyle, who at six is 100 years younger than him.


Until Michael moved into Neil’s home in Boyle in 2014, he had lived alone in the home place in Fairymount and, according to his nephew, still astounds people with his energy.

He is a staunch lifelong Fianna Fáil supporter and still carries his party membership card and driver’s licence (valid until 2018) in his wallet.

Micheal Coyne raises a glass of Jameson to celebrate his birthday with nephew Neil McGarry (left) and godson Austin Waldron. Photograph: Brian Farrell

Michael himself doesn’t have any strong opinions about why he remains so youthful but others have their own theories. “He is a very fit man and … never smoked and he always worked hard. But I think his secret is that he’s a bachelor,” joked his godson. Austin’s late father John Waldron, a one-time Roscommon county councillor, employed Michael as a machinery driver in his plant hire company.

The Waldron family may also have been responsible for Michael’s political affiliations as their pub, the Welcome Inn in Castlerea, used to be a Fianna Fáil house where over the decades the likes of Seán Lemass, Éamon de Valera and Brian Lenihan attended meetings.

Neil McGarry says his uncle is always game for an outing. “He’ll never miss Mass at the weekend,” he said. “And every second day we go out for dinner to places like King House in Boyle.”

An odd trip to their local, Dodd’s Crescent bar in Boyle, enables Michael to keep up with all the local news.

“He’s in great health, thank God, and he really enjoyed the birthday,” said Neil who added that the celebrations continued into Sunday when they visited Carrick-on-Shannon golf club, another favourite haunt for yet another lunch out where the good wishes of neighbours kept him smiling.