There was great delight for many across Fermanagh and indeed, the world when they turned on the news to see that 90-year-old Fermanagh native Margaret ‘Peggy’ Keenan was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination.

She was the first person, outside of a clinical trial, to receive the injection as part of the mass vaccination programme that began across the UK yesterday.

There was great excitement in the McHugh family home in Tempo when Geraldine McHugh turned on the TV to see her “Auntie Peggy”. Reflecting on her great aunt and her newfound place in history, Geraldine said: “She’s just so wonderful, she is so bright. She had been in hospital since last week with breathing difficulties so its great to see her in good health and high spirits.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw her on the news, her daughter had text me to say she was getting it and I thought she meant she was the first in the hospital not the whole world. It was great to see her looking so well.”

Mrs. Keenan described the vaccination as the “best early birthday present I could wish for". She will be turning 91 on Tuesday.

Known as Maggie in England but Peggy in Fermanagh, Mrs Keenan was born in Belcoo to the late Thomas and Susan Cassidy on December 15, 1919.

Geraldine’s mother, the late Mary Dolan was Peggy’s sister. Mrs Keenan told reporters she was from Enniskillen despite being a Belcoo native. Geraldine told this newspaper: “I suppose she said she was from Enniskillen as people might not have been as familiar with Belcoo as they are Enniskillen.”

Mrs Keenan has lived in England for the last 60 years where she worked as a jewellery shop assistant before retiring four years ago, her late husband Phillip ‘Phil’ Keenan, was a native of Bangor, County Down. She has two children Phillip (60) and Sue (58) as well as two grandchildren.

Mrs. Keenan hasn’t visited Fermanagh in over 20 years, but Geraldine and her family visited her last year in Birmingham and have plans to visit her in 2021 if restrictions allow, they keep in touch frequently on the phone.

Mrs. Keenan will turn 91 next Tuesday but Geraldine believes her age will not slow her down.

“She is hoping to live to 100, she is quite active, she still does her own wallpapering and painting, she’s a great goer”, Geraldine told this newspaper.

Margaret received the jab at 6.31am in Coventry on Tuesday (December 8) , marking the start of a phased NHS rollout of the vaccine to older people, health staff and care home workers across the UK.

Mrs Keenan told said: “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19. It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the new year after being on my own for most of the year.

“I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.

“I don’t mind the [media] attention, it doesn’t bother me. I’m just happy to have it done.

“This is a terrible disease, so we do want rid of it, so anything that helps is a bonus, isn’t it?”

Mrs Keenan will receive a booster jab in three weeks to complete the process.

Meanwhile, mass vaccination officially began in Northern Ireland as a nurse received the first jab in the Royal Victoria Hospital. Joanna Sloan from Dundrum, Co Down is the sister in charge of Covid vaccinations in Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. She described the vaccination “as the final hurdle in the fight against Covid.”