Margaret Gallagher lives in a 280-year-old, Grade A listed, thatch cottage in Co. Fermanagh, with no running water or electricity.
Margaret has actively, for over 50 years, maintained her traditional cottage and a way of life which otherwise may have been lost or forgotten; and she welcomes visitors, locals, school groups, media and all who are interested into her home. This has aided the active interpretation of architectural heritage but Margaret is keen to stress that it is not a museum ‘I don’t like that, I don’t think it’s a museum…everything in it is used. Everything you see in this cottage as museum pieces, I use because I need them. They are all I’ve got. I do not see it as a museum. I see it as my home with my things that I use every day. That my father and grandfather have used before me.’
Margaret has recorded and helped the interpretation of heritage on many levels, including founding the Belcoo & District Historical Society and sitting on the Historic Buildings Council for Northern Ireland; however it is in the upkeep and conservation of her thatched building that Margaret has conserved and recorded our ‘endangered’ thatch heritage, and an understanding of vernacular architecture.
A visit to Margaret at Mullylusty – hearth fire, cake that has been baked over the hearth fire, knees burning from the heat- the atmosphere, the smell, the spirit of the vernacular- is not something anyone, young or old is likely to ever forget.