Basics in Belcoo: How Margaret (81) thrives on living life in the old-fashioned way

Our man Frank on being fascinated by the life and times of Belcoo lady Margaret Gallagher; Musings on the Rugby World Cup; Getting ‘dolled up’ for a local wedding… and preparing for the Harvest Festival 

Some time last year, my son Mark, my brother Duff, and myself headed off to the North to see our Creggs rugby lads take on Clogher Valley in an All-Ireland Junior Cup match. While we lost narrowly, the trip was notable for two events.

The first I told you about at the time; we decided to visit Glencar Waterfall in Co. Leitrim, but despite arriving to the amenity’s car park, we somehow failed to find the actual falls themselves. However, we have made up our minds that we will return some day and – as they would say in the movies – we will complete our mission. When that will be I have no idea, but watch this space.

The other thing that’s noteworthy about that day is that we passed through a village where there’s a remarkable resident, someone I didn’t know about at all at the time! That day last year, we drove into Blacklion and crossed the border into Belcoo (the two villages are virtually one). I just happened to find out this week that Belcoo is home to the amazing woman that is 81-year-old Margaret Gallagher.

What makes Margaret so unique is the fact that in this day and age, she has no electricity or running water, and – in her own words – she doesn’t know what change is all about. She lights her house with old-style (actually, just old) oil lamps. She has a big open fire where she boils her kettles of water, with which she washes herself and her clothes, and to keep up to date with the happenings in the wider world, she has a ‘wind up’ radio. She says that all we need is a bed to lie in, a roof over our head, and a table with food to put on it, and that if we have all those things, “we are brilliant”.

The only two concessions Margaret has made to our modern lifestyle are that she has a small pay-as-you-go mobile phone, which makes calls and receives texts and does nothing else, and she also has a car in which she can charge her mobile phone. Margaret still lives in the stone, thatched cottage she was born in back in January 1942, and while she admits it could do with a facelift, she has no plans to change it, and says if it was good enough for her grandfather and her father then it’s certainly good enough for her.

I have to say that seeing her talk about the simple life that she leads, and the happiness and sense of fulfilment she gets out of it, is an eye-opener. While most of us will continue to rely on all mod cons and all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, it’s uplifting to know that, for Margaret Gallagher at least, none of those things are needed at all.

Her 200-year-old thatched cottage is a huge source of interest to people from all over the world, and even though Duff and Mark don’t know it yet, when we find the Glencar Waterfall, we will carry on to Belcoo to see Margaret Gallagher and her cottage for ourselves – I can’t wait.

World Cup 2023 has been a flawed tournament!

Not since Italia 90 has a sporting event gripped the whole country like the current Rugby World Cup has. But as we all know, our lads bit the dust and bowed out at the quarter-final stage. Now there is not much use in being sore losers, but the truth is that the way the groups were drawn has caused a huge amount of controversy and there is no doubt at all that France and Ireland suffered greatly as a result.

Everyone knows how lopsided the draw was, but the line-ups for the semi-finals were almost a joke – two teams (Argentina and England) got there without having to play any of the top teams, while Ireland and France were gone home after losing out in two of the greatest games of rugby ever played.

People will say England proved all their doubters wrong and should have beaten the reigning world champions, South Africa, but the truth is they didn’t attempt to play creative rugby and instead almost kicked the leather off the ball. Rarely (if even once) did their outhalf pass the ball to the backs outside him, so without any historical bias against the English, I say it’s a blessing for the game that they didn’t make the final.

South Africa certainly struggled to beat the English, but was it any wonder – the physical toll the French game had taken out of them had to be immense, and they just couldn’t get to the same level that they had reached the previous week. The same thing applies to the final, as their opponents, the All Blacks, playing well within themselves, hammered a woeful Argentina side by 44 points to 6, and in my opinion demeaned the fixture by deliberately playing the last seven or eight minutes with fourteen men.

Scott Barrett, their powerhouse second row forward, had been sin-binned, but his time was up and he could have, and to my mind, should have, come back. However, the coaches decided to leave Barrett where he was and keep him on the sidelines, an act which I think was an insult to their opponents and indeed to the game of rugby.

Anyway, at the end of it all we have two Southern Hemisphere teams in the final, and while I hope to watch it, I don’t really care who wins! It’s been a flawed tournament, with lots of ridiculously one-sided games, terrible refereeing decisions (compounded by even worse TMO calls), and a draw that made it almost impossible for some top teams to progress.

Musings on a day out!

It’s a nice bright Saturday morning, and Carol and myself are getting dolled up as we are heading off to Galway to attend the wedding of Emma Morgan and her husband-to-be, Conor Byrne.

Emma is the daughter of our next-door neighbour Tommy and his late wife Eileen, and the ‘do’ is taking place in the superb Hardiman Hotel in Eyre Square.

For some of us older folk, the Hardiman would be better known as the former Great Southern, and there is no doubt it still exudes style, glamour and class, and the wedding was in keeping with the splendour of the hotel. Everything was first class, and we thoroughly enjoyed the day!

Sadly, we are getting a little older nowadays (well, I am anyway! Carol still has a few years on me), so after partaking in a few lovely pints and the wonderful meal, we headed for home and didn’t feature at all on the dance floor, which I’m sure was a huge disappointment for all the ladies!

I’m told that they managed quite well without me, which has hurt my pride a bit, but it was still a fabulous day out. Emma looked absolutely lovely and Conor wasn’t too bad either, and all we can do is wish them all the best for the future, and a long and very happy life together.

As for me, I was told I scrubbed up very well, but ‘twas a pity about my scruffy beard! You can’t please everyone!

And finally…

Out here in Creggs, we are all looking forward to the Bank Holiday weekend, and of course our more than 40-year-old Harvest Festival.

There are so many things happening in the village from Friday evening all the way to Bank Holiday Monday, that I cannot even begin to tell you about them! Suffice to say there is guaranteed to be something for you in Creggs this coming weekend.

On a personal note, I will be asking the questions at the big Table Quiz in Mikeen’s on Friday evening at 8 pm, so I hope to see a lot of ye there… unless I owe you a few bob!

Anyway, put it in your diary! Creggs is the place to be this weekend – and you will have the time of your life!