'a good life' | 

Michael Caden to be honoured with two minutes’ silence following his death at age 101

He was among an exclusive club of centenarians who received a €2,540 cheque from the State and a commemorative coin after hitting 100

Michael Caden, pictured in May 2022. Picture: Mark Condren

Michael Caden, pictured in May 2022. Picture: Mark Condren

Allison BrayIndependent.ie

A minute’s silence is to be held at all GAA matches in Maynooth, Co Kildare this weekend in honour of centenarian Michael Caden who died just days after celebrating his 101st birthday.

The great-grandfather, originally from Derryhillagh, Co Mayo, received his second commemorative coin and a congratulatory letter from President Michael D. Higgins when he celebrated his milestone birthday surrounded by his loving family on February 12. He sadly died just after midnight on Thursday following a brief illness.

He was among an exclusive club of centenarians who received a €2,540 cheque from the State and a commemorative coin after hitting 100 and a subsequent coin and letter from the President for each subsequent birthday after that.

In 2021, the most recent year for which statistics are available, a whopping 726 Irish citizens – including more than a hundred men – received the commemorative coins to celebrate their longevity after hitting the 100-year milestone.

Mr Caden, who was the Honourary President of the Maynooth GAA club, said his only regret in life was still waiting to see Mayo bring the Sam Maguire cup back to his home county.

Michael Caden, pictured in May 2022. Picture: Mark Condren

He witnessed Mayo winning the All-Ireland Senior football championship in 1950 and again 1951 and had hoped to live to see Mayo victorious once again, but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m waiting for Sam to go down to Mayo,” he told the Irish Independent when he celebrated his 100th birthday last year. “I’ve been waiting since 1951 – and I was there,”

He was also active in Fianna Fail for many years and had an appointment to have tea with the former Taoiseach Michéal Martin and Bertie Ahern last year to mark his 100th birthday but catching Covid-19 scuppered those plans as well as a massive birthday celebration at the K-Club.

But he didn’t let Covid stop him from enjoying an intimate party with family as pored over more than 100 cards and gifts from well-wishers, including a video greeting from singer Daniel O’Donnell.

Michael Caden celebrating turning 100 with family and friends

Yet he will always be remembered by his four children, 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren as a happy-go-lucky man who “knew he was loved,” according to a family member.

An avid reader, he read the Irish Independent every day and still played his beloved accordion until the end, she said.

He moved to Maynooth after raising his family in Dublin with his late wife Ann, who passed away at the age of 91 in 2018 after 66 years of marriage. He was very active in his local GAA club and was passionate about Gaelic football his entire life.

While he was always fit and active, and walked for miles every day, he credited simply being happy for his longevity – as well as avoiding the chipper and smoking.

“I think I was always happy, but I feel despairing when I look at the world now. Young people are not enjoying themselves the way we did. I think it’s the era we’re living in,” he told the Irish Independent’s Weekend Magazine last summer.

“I feel really lucky. I did everything: I took a drink, I danced late at night, I kept fit. Nobody belonging to me ever lived this long — it’s not in my genes,” he said.

As for ageing, he never gave it a second thought.

“I don’t even think about age. I was always working with young people and I always thought as a young person,” he said.

He lived in his own home until a brief illness forced him into hospital, where he died surrounded by family.

“He was absolutely sharp and intact,” the relative said of his final days.

“He really felt he had lived a good life.”

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