Mrs. Margaret McGrath

T was with deep regret that the community learned of the death of Mrs. Margaret McGrath on May 24 at the age of 76.

She was born Margaret Bell at Sheepland, two miles outside Ardglass, on July 18, 1936. She would spend many happy times there.

Margaret grew up in Crossgar in a tight loving family. Her father, Johnny, and mother, Mary, died when she was young and she assumed the role of housekeeper to her brothers, Gerald, Enda, Brendan and Brian.

She later worked in McCarthy’s shop and at the Tobar Mhuire monastery in Crossgar. A night’s dancing at the Canon’s Hall in Downpatrick was the highlight of the week. She also lived and worked for a time in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Margaret returned to Crossgar, and on October 3, 1967, married Brian McGrath in the Church of the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph. Soon Margaret was the proud mother to James, Mary and Dan.

In 1976 the family moved to Saul to a bungalow Brian had built on the edge of the farm. After rearing some lambs by hand Margaret forbade them from being served for dinner because they were part of the family.

Birthday parties for the children showcased Margaret’s talents in the kitchen. Each birthday cake designed and baked by Margaret outdid the last. One could be a chocolate owl trimmed with Cadbury flake for feathers or another a cowboy fort surrounded by a chocolate finger fence.

When the children had started going to the ‘big schools’ Margaret and Brian set their sights on starting a business of their own. This was realised when she opened a grocery shop in Scotch Street in Downpatrick.

Although she loved living in Saul her home was always Crossgar. She would tell her children that if she won the pools she would buy a house on the main street and sit at the front door saying hello to all her family and friends. She didn’t win the pools but she did fulfil her wish by moving back to Crossgar to the exact house she had dreamed of.

An avid crossworder, gardener and walker, she enjoyed local history and was a talented dressmaker. She would tell her children that she would walk to China for them and they knew it was true.

Margaret suffered from Alzheimer’s for several years. She died early on the morning of May 24 surrounded by her family. She will be greatly missed.