independent

Monday 16 September 2019

Clongeen couple recapture magic of their youth

60th anniversary is marked with touching nod to the past

Seamus and Margaret on their 60th wedding anniversary
Seamus and Margaret on their 60th wedding anniversary
Seamus and Margaret on their wedding day in 1959.

Simon Bourke

After 60 years of marriage one might assume that for most couples the romance would be, if not dead, then certainly dying. Seamus and Margaret Cahill aren't like most couples though, and to prove it they marked their recent 60th wedding anniversary with a nod to the past, a reminder of their special day all those years ago.

Having kept her wedding dress in cold storage since she and Seamus wed in a Nottinghamshire Church in 1959, Margaret decided that, with their 60th anniversary imminent, the time was right to see if it looked as good as she remembered.

'I'd put it in a plastic bag and in a case and I was upstairs one day, and I knew we were coming on to the 60th year, so I thought "I wonder what my dress looks like?", Margaret recalls. 'I took it out and was amazed at how good a condition it was in. So I brought it in to Sew it Seams, they had to take it out a bit, but they did a terrific job. They said "you wouldn't buy lace that like today".

However, Margaret neglected to tell her husband about her discovery, deciding instead to surprise him on the day of their anniversary.

'I couldn't believe it, I didn't know anything about it. I said, "where did you get that dress from?",' Seamus says.

Held in the back-garden of their Clongeen home, the wedding anniversary featured a star turn from someone who had performed at the couple's honeymoon all those years ago. Dodo O'Shea, a local accordion player, had welcomed Margaret and Seamus back to Ireland when they returned to Wexford for their honeymoon, and once more she was present to regale the pair with one of their favourite tunes, 'When the Saints go Marching In'.

And music has played a pivotal part in the Cahill's lives. They first met at a dance in Duncannon, a time when, according to Seamus they were 'all twinkle toes'. But having swept Margaret off her feet on that first night, Seamus had to repeat the feat some months later. Work had seen them leave their respective homes in Bealistown and Fethard-on-Sea, with Seamus emigrating to Nottinghamshire and Margaret moving to Dublin.

But after only a couple of months in the UK, Seamus realised something was missing.

'I went to Newark-on-Trent for work, there was nothing here in Wexford, so I took off one day. I left in September and came back at Christmas and brought her back with me, I couldn't live without her.'

Remaining in the UK for 47 years the couple returned to their roots in 2004 and to a quiet neighbourhood in Clongeen.

'My dream was to come back, I always said I'd never stay,' says Margaret. 'Our daughter was born and bred in England but she moved to Ireland too, she loves it here.'

What's the secret to their longevitity though, how have they managed to stay together for all these years?

Seamus has all the answers: 'I always say; do as you're told, when you're told and always say yes when you should be saying no, and that goes a long way.'

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