Thirteen siblings from throughout the U.K. and Ireland reunited earlier this month for what will likely be the last time. That’s because they have a combined age of 1,073 years, and the reunion was held to celebrate their recently won title.
The brothers and sisters – Sean (93), Maureen (92), Eileen (90), Peter (87), Mairead (86), Rose (85), Tony (83), Terry (81), Seamus (80), Brian (76), Kathleen (75), Colm (73) and Leo (72) – officially won the Guinness World Record for oldest family in March, but gathered to celebrate on May 14 at their family home in Armagh, Northern Ireland.
The family originally totaled 18, including their parents Peter and Ellen Donnelly. One sibling, Michael, passed away 42 years ago at age 25 in a car accident, and another, Oscar, lost a battle with cancer at the age of 64.
Leo’s twin, Austin, passed away in 2015 on Christmas Day.
Ironically, he was the one who inadvertently set the Guinness wheels in motion, when he remarked at Maureen’s 90th birthday that “we must be the oldest family in the world,” Leo said. “It was a fly-away remark, but it grew legs and we began making inquiries into registering for the Guinness World Record.”
That involved jumping through numerous hoops, including searching for birth certificates that had long since been packed away. Some of the siblings couldn’t find them and had to send away for new ones, while the women who changed their names after marrying had to obtain marriage certificates.
But all that effort paid off in the end.
“We’re going to get in the book next year. When we started this thing, there was a determination to bring it all the way and it’s great now to have that title,” Leo said. “It’s more important to us because it is in memory of Austin.”
Besides the 13 siblings, the family also includes nearly 200 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Think they’ll try to get another record in the books as the world’s largest extended family?