Saturday 19 January 2019

Margaret's milestone party

Jenny McCudden

As I arrive into the pristine home of centenarian Margaret Travers in Cartron, the still nimble- fingered birthday girl is knitting a lilac hat.

Margaret who celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday, June 24th is sitting in her comfy chair with both feet resting on a stool. Above her on the wall is a picture of the Sacred Heart, or as she calls him 'The man above' whom she has been 'talking a lot to recently.'

Not that she believes she is going straight to Heaven. Despite her children's insistence that she has earned her place in the Heavenly Kingdom, Margaret would be perfectly happy with purgatory.

"I think I will go to purgatory first," she confides, as she shows me how the cap will turn out.

Apart from her knitting, Margaret likes to read the papers with the aid of a magnifying glass; her preference the Irish Independent and The Sligo Champion.

She doesn't read for long chunks of time. "My eyes can get tired these days," she explains. But one thing is for certain Margaret's mind with a lifetime of memories is not yet tired. On the contrary it is as sharp as a tack. The former psychiatric nurse protests she is not 'all that sociable' but once we get talking this interesting and friendly pensioner has plenty to say.

The obligatory opening question to anyone who is fortunate enough to reach the ripe old age of 100 is 'What's your secret?'

And Margaret reveals: "Not worrying and making sure to just take one day at a time."

So if living in the moment can lead to longevity, is it an honour to reach such a monumental milestone?

"I feel the same really," Margaret says, "I'm not too bad, but I'm too old now to enjoy many of the things I once did." A mother of seven, Margaret originally from Bundoran married Leitrim farmer John Travers when she was 33 and went on to have seven children. They spent 22 years living in London before returning to Sligo in 1979.

"If I had married when I was 18, I would have had twenty children," she jokes. Looking back she admits that some of her happiest times were "when she was young and not married."

Growing up on a farm, she walked a mile and a half to school every day. "My father was a farmer. We had to work on the farm, milking cows, picking potatoes for the pit and helping out with the hay. The only day we would get off would be Sunday. I'd go to mass in Bundoran and afterwards with our few coppers buy licorice. We'd walk about and meet the visitors. Times have changed now. People are less friendly, more modern."

Margaret had a happy childhood but recalls her Dad as being strict sometimes: "I remember he wouldn't allow me go to the dance, and I cried the whole evening, but I was only 14 so probably too young to go anyway."

A lover of Irish music, up until recently Margaret could dance a jig. She may not have got to boogie too much at her birthday last Sunday, but she certainly enjoyed all of the fun with her family. Her great granddaughter Mila was baptised on the same day-only a century between them!

Sligo Champion