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Inspirational 90-year-old Irish woman who got a degree in her 80s wins lifetime achievement award

Kitty Flynn went back to university in the late 80s

A 90-YEAR-OLD Irish woman, who completed a university degree at the age of 87, has been presented with a lifetime achievement award in her hometown of Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath.

Historian, author, graduate and volunteer Kitty ‘Kathleen’ Flynn spoke to former Irish Post James Mulhall on Irish radio station Midlands 103 about her extraordinary life and her decision to go to university in her 80s.

It was through her work as a volunteer that she was offered the opportunity to study for a diploma course with Galway university and when that was finished she began to study for her degree – a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family and Community Studies.

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Kitty was among 26 students who graduated from the degree at NUI Galway that year, where she was the eldest in her cohort.

“They were all more or less the same age except myself, I was so much older than them,” she said.

The recent graduate has spent most of her life living in Kilbeggan, but spent time in London during the 1940s where she worked in Dollis Hill in the now closed St Andrew’s Hospital.

Recalling the reasons for her move to Britain, Kitty said: “I went over in 1946. I went because everybody more or less was emigrating at that time as there were no jobs here.

“It’s a very exciting city, particularly when you are young.”

Kitty has since become an author after moving back to Ireland, writing a number of local history books, including co-authoring a book on the 1798 rising in Westmeath with local historian Stan McCormack and writing a history of the Kilbeggan GAA.

When asked by radio presenter James whether she would ever turn her hand to fiction, the 90-year-old revealed that nothing was off the table.

“I don’t know whether I have the talent for fiction.  But maybe you’ve given me an idea! Maybe I will do that.”


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