Jim Russell celebrates his 100th birthday reflecting on his life's achievements and looking forward to every day.
Jim Russell was born on 1 May 1897 in the village of Shanbally, County Cork. His family later went to live in nearby Curraghbinny overlooking Cork Harbour.
His first job was as an engine fitter apprentice in Haulbowline. This was a six year apprenticeship from 1912 – 1918.
Jim Russell was introduced to hurling and played his first game for the Shamrocks (Cork) Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Club in 1912. While he never made it to Croke Park, he played for the Cork senior hurling team in 1919 and 1924. He won a Munster medal in 1922.
In 1926 Jim Russell left Cork on board the SS Adriatic bound for New York,
I took half a dozen hurleys with me.
There was a big demand for the hurls so Jim Russell quickly made a new circle of friends. He found work in New York and remained there until his retirement in 1961. He then returned to Ireland with his wife Mary. He was widowed in 1970 when Mary died of cancer.
He recalls her last words,
Jim I’ll wait for you on the steps of heaven and we’ll enter together, goodbye.
Jim Russell now lives with his niece Noreen and her husband Dan Fitzgibbon in Ballinlough in Cork city. He is 99 years and seven months older than the youngest family member, his great grand niece.
He lives an active life attending mass in Ballinlough Church every morning. In his 90s he took up indoor bowling. He had some experience with road bowling but needed to be shown how to play indoor bowling. He found he was good at it and enjoys playing the game.
Jim Russell reflects on being 100 years old,
It feels wonderful to wake in the morning and say I am still alive and get up and move around and I certainly enjoy it.
Jim Russell died in his 104th year on 8 January 2001.
A 'Nationwide’ report broadcast on 25 June 1997. The reporter is Deirdre McCarthy.