Cup Of Tae
John and Annie Gallagher a Tribute
Annie : Annie McGill was born and reared in Glengesh. Her mother came from Port, Glencolmcille and her father came from Glengesh. Annie had a great talent for knitting and she knitted for Campbells of the Front Street for many years. Before that she worked in Big Joe’s.
Annie had the patience of a saint. For someone who didn’t play music herself she’d listen and listen to all who called to the house and people were constantly calling to their house. It was a real raking house and everyone who crossed the threshold was offered a cup of tea or a bowl of soup and Annie’s legendary homemade bread, that she used to make every morning on the Stanley range. That range pumped out the heat. It was the kind of house you’d go into just to warm up. Annie loved the heat. You’d go in to the house foundered and you’d emerge sweating. Her window in the kitchen was covered in flowers, which would grow at an incredible rate in the heat and humidity.
Annie had the lightest heart and if you had a funny story she’d laugh along with you. She was always ready with a smile. She was the ultimate people person. She was a great listener and a great chatter. She would drop anything and everything to help a person whether she knew them or not.
Annie sold mass cards for the missions and this ensured an even greater number of people calling to her door. After the greetings were done with, the person buying the card would be asked the usual question, ‘Is it for the living or for the dead?’ She’d mourn the dead and wish good luck for the living. Then she’d ask for all your relations, for Annie knew who everyone was and who their people were before them and their people again. She had a real gift for ancestry.
Annie’s main concern in life was John’s welfare and she looked after him so well. For the last couple of years of her life, she devoted herself entirely to looking after him.She cared for John with every ounce of energy she had and when Annie died, the people of Ardara were shocked since she always appeared to be the stronger of the two. Annie died of cancer in August 2011 after a brief stay in hospital. She had suffered in silence, not telling anyone how sick she was, knowing that she would have to go to hospital and afraid that she would be taken from John.
Annie was the most generous, most kind-hearted, most loving , most earthy person you could ever meet. She held to heart the important things in life and it was the little things that made her smile: the ducks going up the Abhainn Fhia, the first cuckoo, newly-hatched chickens, a good old chat, babies.
When Annie died, John lost his heart, and in many ways, so did the town of Ardara.
John: John was famous as a fiddler all over the world, famous as a Donegal fiddler. In his early years he travelled the country playing music. He won Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann and the Oireachtas in the 50s, but John wasn't a competition man. He was a weaver and, like many men in Ardara, he wove in the Mart in Ardara for many years. He also made creels.
John loved animals - all animals - and always had a Jack Russel, and sometimes two. If you were passing his house you'd hear the canaries singing, and if you were passing the gate you'd see the hens and the chickens, and at one time, the ducks. He knew the name of every bird by hearing its song; he knew the habits of every creature. John and Annie were very close to nature. Like Annie, John liked the simple pleasures: a good tune, a bottle of Guinness and a half one in Teagues, a chat about old times, going out for a walk with Annie and Rex/ Spot/ Nipper.
The sessions at John's wake and after his funeral were a celebration of a life lived playing and loving music, and it was fitting that there would be fiddle playing and dancing. John would have been proud. There was music at the wake and at the funeral, played by John's friends, Michael and Paddy O'Rourke, Paddy McMenamin, Eithne Gallagher, Tara Connaghan, Derek McGinley, Danny Meehan, Dónal Kelly, Rosaleen Gallagher, Peter, Jimmy and Vincent Campbell.
Mat McGranahan played during the church service and Aileen Sweeney sang. Séamus Gallagher, a great friend of John's all his life, made a lovely and humourous tribute to John in the Parish Centre, after the funeral.
John and Annie's wakes and funerals were a testimony to them both. The people of Ardara came out in droves to see them off. They were held in such high esteem and were loved very much by the people they lived among. They were very special people. Two characters we were lucky to have known.