'Wee Margaret' McCallion - Tributes paid to well-known Derry 'gem'

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There have been many tributes to Derry woman Margaret McCallion this week and the city has indeed lost someone who was very much part of its soul.

Like most people, I knew ‘wee Margaret’ as she was affectionately known to many, but I didn’t really know that much about her at the same time.

When I was growing up she lived on the same street as close relatives along Lecky Road and she always seemed very sociable and kind. And she never seemed to forget a face either. Years later I remember her stopping and saying hello in the Richmond Centre - she had remembered who I was and she gave me a key ring with a car insignia on it.

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In my early 20s I worked in Argos in Foyleside and for a time Margaret was the cleaner there. I remember her dancing at Christmas to a Daniel O’Donnell CD and with her smiling eyes she seemed to have that gift of being able to instill joy in people and make them feel at ease.

Margaret McCallion. (0712PG52)Margaret McCallion. (0712PG52)
Margaret McCallion. (0712PG52)

Margaret was well known in workplaces across Derry, and she was a cleaner in numerous places down the years including in Dunnes Stores to Long’s supermarket on Strand Road- one of the images I have in my mind is Margaret sweeping the steps outside Long’s.

A quick glance through the Derry Journal archive for a picture to accompany this article showed just how sociable Margaret was, attending many civic tea dances and community functions in the Bogside and Brandywell through the years.

Her kindness didn’t just extend to other people either. She seemed to have an affinity with, and devotion to, animals and may people remember her from feeding the pigeons in and around Waterloo Place.

That’s all I really knew of Margaret McCallion but it has been enough to form a lasting impression and to feel a sadness at hearing the news that she had passed away and I’d like to express our condolences to Margaret’s family.

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Margaret McCallion enjoying a dance at a community function in years past with Gerry Harkin. (0302PG78)Margaret McCallion enjoying a dance at a community function in years past with Gerry Harkin. (0302PG78)
Margaret McCallion enjoying a dance at a community function in years past with Gerry Harkin. (0302PG78)

Many others have paid tribute this week with Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan describing Margaret as a “wee gem”.

"Derry loves its characters and Margaret had a special place in the hearts of so many, her radiation of kindness tangible even to those who never had the pleasure of a conversation with her.

"I think lots of us saw something in her that epitomised the spirit of the city that she loved so well,” Mr Durkan said.


Editor, Derry Journal.

*Margaret McCallion passed away on peacefully on Wednesday, May 29. Requiem Mass is due to take place on Saturday at 11.30 am in St Columba's Church, Longtower.

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