Helen, age 91, is a class act!

A 91-year-old woman from Downings has just graduated from a DCU course.

A 91-year-old woman from Downings has just graduated from a DCU course.

Helen O’Kelly came to Downings from her native England 65 years ago when she married her late husband, Dr. Dan O’Kelly and they set up home at Magherabeg. There, they raised nine children together, and the home still remains in the family.

Over the last three years, Helen set herself the challenge of completing a new course, the Certificate in Theology and Lifelong Learning. It’s run by Dublin City University in conjunction with the Mater Dei Institute.

Helen’s daughter Gabrielle says she took to the work like a duck to water. “She was very serious about the work and very focused, and she enjoyed every minute of it. The course was delivered on an outreach basis and that meant it included visits to other places, including Newry. She’s always surrounded by books in her apartment, and she worked hard on completing all her essays.

“She finished the course in June and got good marks, then graduated last week. We are all very proud of her. Of course, we also enjoyed the fact that she could use a student card instead of a pensioners card for things like travel and discounts! The people at DCU and Mater Dei told us that my mother is the eldest graduate they’ve ever had!

“A lot of the family got together for the big occasion - myself, Fr. Michael, Philomena, Hugh, who all live in Ireland, plus our sisters Rosaleen from England and Helen from Toronto. We also were in touch with Patricia and Antony who both live in Australia. Sadly missed on the occasion were our late father and our sister Clare, who passed away two years ago.”