More than eight out of 10 who get to 100 are women

 

IRISH CENTENARIANS set a collective record last year when the highest-ever number of them received the presidential payment of €2,540 when they turned 100.

About 85 per cent of centenarians are women and that figure does not vary much from year to year, says Áras an Uachtaráin.

Last year a record 368 centenarians received the award, 214 of whom are resident in Ireland while another 154 Irish citizens who live in Northern Ireland and overseas also received it.

Irish citizens who reach 100 years of age receive the €2,540 and a congratulatory letter signed by the President. A spokesman for Áras an Uachtaráin confirmed that €934,720 was paid out in 2011.

“This is the highest number of centenarians to receive the bounty since the scheme was extended to centenarians living abroad,” he said.

The number of people receiving the award reached 315 in 2010, while 303 Irish citizens received the award in 2008 and 2009 respectively, according to figures provided by Áras an Uachtaráin.

Although 337 received the bounty in 2007 this can be partially attributed to those aged 101 and upwards who applied for the award in 2007 having failed to do so in 2006, the year in which the award was first extended to Irish citizens living abroad.

The latest census figures show that in 2006, 289 people in Ireland were aged 100 or more.

A detailed breakdown revealing the number of people who are aged more than 100 in the 2011 census will be available in May

The first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, introduced the centenarian’s bounty in 1940, at which time those who reached their 100th year received £5. In 1996, the bounty stood at £300. But in 2000 the payment was increased to €2,540. In 2000 the president began marking the birthday of those who had their 101st and subsequent birthdays. They receive a special commemorative coin in a presentation box. A new coin is designed each year.

Information about people who are about to reach 100 years and in receipt of an Irish pension is forwarded to the office of the President by the Department of Social Welfare. The office of the President then makes the award directly to the individual.

Information on Irish citizens living abroad who are eligible for the award can be sent to their nearest diplomatic mission or the Department of Foreign Affairs. An application form is on president.ie.

The State’s oldest citizen is Mary Kate Byrne of Co Laois who turned 107 in August.