| 3°C Dublin

brave nun Ireland's oldest Covid-19 survivor (103) sadly dies of natural causes


Sister Martha Hickey (centre)

Sister Martha Hickey (centre)

Sister Martha Hickey (centre)

Ireland’s oldest coronavirus survivor has sadly passed away at the age of 103. 

Sister Martha Hickey hit the headlines in April after she became the oldest person to survive the killer bug.

Making a miraculous recovery, the rugby-mad nun, who devoted over 80 years of her life to the Church, first fell ill at her nursing home in Co. Cork and was later admitted to a neighbouring hospital.

Suffering with a high temperature and respiratory problems, a hospital test later confirmed that the Limerick native was coronavirus positive. The brave pensioner’s recovery was down to her having no underlying health conditions.

Despite her heroic fight against the deadly disease, Martha sadly passed away just four months later due to natural causes.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Martha’s family revealed that the centenarian passed away peacefully in August.

Determined to share her story of hope and resilience, the family hope Anne’s story will continue to inspire people who are struck down by the disease.

Speaking at the time of Martha’s recovery, Anne Linehan, who is one of the devout nun’s many nieces said:

“We didn’t think that she would make it at first – it is a fair test to come out of Covid-19 at 103.

“We really didn’t know what to expect when we heard that it was Covid-19 but the doctors and nurses couldn’t be more delighted with her progress.

Having celebrated her milestone 103rd birthday on February 22, her family were aware of the nun’s astounding recovery.

“My brother actually said it should be in some paper that she survived Covid-19. Everyone is saying how remarkable it is.

“There are younger people losing their lives so that is why we are all so happy to share Martha’s story, it is lovely to hear good news stories.”

Sr Martha was born in 1917 and joined the order at the tender age of 19.

Remembering her aunt as a kind and resilient person, Anne said:

“She was a remarkable person. On the year she celebrated her 100th birthday, she also celebrated 80 years of service as a nun.

“She was a very strong person, she always had a brilliant sense of humour and has always been so kind.

“During her time as a nun she also worked in Malaysia, she was a primary school teacher and absolutely adored the children.”

Anne recalled her childhood memories of when Sr Martha would visit the family home.

“‘The nun coming home on holidays at our house meant all hands on deck to straighten the place before herself would arrive.”

Recalling some of Sr Martha’s favourite pastimes, Anne said: “Martha had a huge love of sports – she absolutely loves rugby with Stringer, ROG and, of course, Paul O’Connell being her all time favourite Munster legends.

“Hurling would have been another huge interest of hers with great pride taken in Limerick’s victory in 2018 when they won the All-Ireland Hurling Final.

“She also had a keen interest in gardening and would sometimes bring a cutting of a favourite plant or flower to her sister Bridie and ensure it was looked after according to her exacting standards.”

Anne also spoke of her aunt’s general health, revealing that:

“She always took care of herself and was always very conscious of what she ate, she would have eaten mostly vegetarian meals and always exercised.”

Sr Martha’s strong faith has also never wavered, according to her niece.

“She went to a convent for her secondary education and when she was there she felt the calling to be a nun. I think she would have been 19 at the time. She truly was an exceptional lady.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors