Third birthday card from President

By Kieran Hughes

O ne of Longlands’ most well known daughters received her third letter from the President last week when she celebrated her 102nd birthday.

Cassie Gillen was surrounded by family and friends at her Longlands Court home on July 18 to celebrate another remarkable milestone.

Cassie, who was born and raised in Ballyvesey, near Mallusk, ran a grocery store in Longlands for forty years. Her sister Maggie also ran a store in Longlands and the two were well known characters in the area.

Born on 18th July 1910, Cassie left Ballyvesey as a teenager when she moved to Greencastle where she lived until she was 48. She worked as a ‘millie’, working in the factories in the local mill as a weaver, before following Maggie’s lead by buying a shop in Longlands in 1958.

Despite the challenges of running a grocery store she made it a success and became one of the area’s most popular residents. She eventually sold the shop and retired some 40 years later in 1998.

On her 100th birthday Cassie received a telegram a letter and medal from then President Mary McAleese.

This year President Michael D Higgins continued the tradition with a letter and medal for the centenarian plus 2.

Despite suffering recent poor health Cassie thoroughly enjoyed her latest birthday celebrations.

“It was lovely!” she said, before sharing her secret to long life.

“A drop of whiskey with milk.”


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