Dingle's WWII survivor: 'People need to relax'

Updated / Tuesday, 21 Apr 2020 12:58
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By Seán Mac an tSíthigh

A woman celebrating her 90th birthday, and who lived through World War II, is advising people to relax and remain patient during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Originally from Germany, but living on the Dingle Peninsula for over 30 years, Marianne Frohlich is currently cocooning alone in her little cottage on the Dingle Peninsula. 

While she misses being out and about Marianne says she is doing well and is receiving a lot of help from family and neighbours.

Marianne says she has been through difficult times before. She lived through World War II and as a young girl her family was forced to flee their home in Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg) when the Russian army arrived.

"I was a refugee. My parents and us had to escape from the east at the end of the war. 

"That was a really terrible time. I was only 14 years old when the Russians came. Soldiers came in to our house and they told my father that we had one hour to get out. I was a child and I was terrified. We had to pack as much as we could. It was really, really terrible. They had to leave everything. That was a hard time I tell you."

Marianne says the experience made her a resilient person, helping her deal with subsequent difficult times, such as the current Covid-19 crisis:

"I have to wait. We all have to wait. People are sometimes very restless and they have to, you know, relax a little bit more, all over the world. This is difficult but we must stay positive. We will get through this. Together. But we must be patient."

A small gathering to celebrate Marianne's 90th birthday was organised by her grandson Til. Marianne celebrated from inside her house while a handful of close relatives and friends held a garden party outside. 

"We had planned to have a big party in Germany but we had to cancel that. Flying was out of the question. So we decided to have a garden party here in Clochar. It’s small but it’s a lovely gathering."

Marianne and her husband Fritz first visited the Dingle Peninsula in 1968, before purchasing a cottage overlooking the Blasket Islands and moving there permanently in 1990.

"Our first visit was only four days and it was pouring rain. But we fell in live with the place – the people, the landscape. Then we decided to move here and found this wonderful little cottage."

Marianne remains very active and says the secret to a long life is to maintain positive relationships:

"I still do some gymnastics and I do a lot of work around the garden. I love my garden. But the real secret to a long life is to surround yourself with good people. I am lucky to have people like that.