Twin tracks to Galway: ‘Sure we won’t sleep at all, we’ll be talking all night’

Sisters Kathleen Galligan and Margaret Gilna celebrate 90ths with three-night treat

Ballaghaderreen-born twins Kathleen Galligan and Margaret Gilna have always been close and married on the same day. They took the train to Galway to celebrate their 90th birthdays. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Ballaghaderreen-born twins Kathleen Galligan and Margaret Gilna have always been close and married on the same day. They took the train to Galway to celebrate their 90th birthdays. Photograph: Jason Clarke

 

Twin sisters Kathleen Galligan and Margaret Gilna got to celebrate their 90th birthday on Tuesday by setting off together from Dublin to Galway by train for a short holiday after being separated for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The women were born on May 30th, 1931, in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, and both also married their husbands on April 15th, 1958.

Both have four sons and two daughters and keep in touch every day via text and FaceTime.

Ms Galligan lives in Raheny with her husband Michael (91) while Ms Gilna lives in Stillorgan. Her husband Jimmy died a number of years ago.

Ms Galligan’s daughter, Emer Litchfield, said both families decided that as the women hadn’t been together for a year, they would send them to Galway for three nights to celebrate the milestone birthday.

“They do everything together, so Covid was quite restrictive for them. They both drive but they had to stay within the 2km and 5km radius,” she said.

Double wedding

“They’re extremely close, they’ve been best friends their entire lives . . They got engaged on the same day, they got married on the same day, they had a double wedding in Merrion Church.

“It was painful for them, they pined for each other. Every day, both of them would text each other and they’ve been doing that since they got their mobile phones, aged 72.

“They both got iPads in recent years and they FaceTime all the time. They never go to bed without sending a text to each other.”

Ms Litchfield said her mother and aunt had found the last year “dreadful” but were now both fully vaccinated. She said the women celebrated with their families separately, given the Covid-19 restrictions, and their trip to Galway would “let them celebrate properly together”.

Exceptional mothers

“Margaret said they would spend so much time talking and reminiscing, they need nothing but each other,” Ms Litchfield added.

“They’re in the hotel, they might go out for walks, go in for meals. We said let them do what they want because they’ve always been independent. They don’t need any minding, they’re well able to go and shop and sightsee.

“They have been exceptional mothers over the years, great wives, grandmothers and great grandmothers. They take a personal interest in all of their children and their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“They can name every one of them, all the girlfriends and boyfriends. The love they have for each other . . . They’re so inspirational, we feed off that love.”

Ms Galligan said it was “very hard” not being able to see her twin sister in person during the pandemic. “We are going to enjoy every moment of it [the trip], and we’ll do things we’ve never done before.”

Ms Gilna added “Sure we won’t sleep at all, we’ll be talking all night.”