International Women’s Day

6th March 2020

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today we bring you a very special story on our Leabank lady Margaret Cairns.

Margaret is 101 years young. Her maiden name was Margaret Gililand and she was born 16th February 1919 in Hornbey Street, Belfast where she grew up with her parents Kathleen & Thomas and attended the local Templemore Avenue School. She loved reading and spending time out on her bicycle – a great passion of hers.

Once school was completed, Margaret secured a post as a clerk in a photography shop and then a clerk in the Rope Works in Belfast earning 2 and 6, 12 and ½ p a week! It was Margaret’s passion for cycling that lead her to meet her one true love, William. They met at the cycling club called The Maryland Wheelers and William was the 25 Mile Cycle Champion of Northern Ireland which clearly impressed Margaret, they fell in love and got married on Valentine’s day – 14th February 1945.

They lived a wonderful life that was devoted to cycling, they went everywhere together on their bicycles with the club – Isle of Man, Scotland, England, Wales and all-around Ireland. Margaret’s love for cycling never stopped – it was merely postponed while she gave birth to her beautiful daughter Michelle in 1949. The cycling duo soon became a trio and the next chapter of their lives began. Michelle went everywhere with her parents on various adapted bicycles and tandems.

When pondering some past memories, Margaret said she recalls standing at her aunts’ door in Islandmagee, watching Belfast burning in the Blitz and the next day they found out that their very own house was bombed!

Margaret says that life begins at 80! After living her whole life not setting foot on a plane, she decided to take the leap and be a passenger for the very first time at 80 years old. At the age of 82, Margaret waited until her daughter was out of the country on holiday and sneaked off to the salon to get her ears pierced for the first time – something she had always wanted to do, so why not.

Still to this day Margaret talks so fondly of her cycling days and loves reminiscing about her wonderful life. A lady who is 101 years old and an inspiration to many – thank you for reminding us that age is only a number, if you want to do something, just go for it!

Margaret Cairns, our inspirational woman for International Women’s Day 2020.

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