Real Lives: Mary and John are still dancing in the key of life

John and Mary Gallagher

John and Mary Gallagher

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A HAPPY couple who first met on the dancefloor of a church hall in Musselburgh have celebrated their golden wedding.

Mary, 71, and John Gallagher, 75, from Dalkeith, celebrated their special anniversary on June 23.

The celebration also got Mary talking about another slice of local history - Dalkeith’s first ever double wedding featuring her parents and her aunt and uncle.

Mary’s parents Patrick and Agnes Sweeney tied the knot alongside Hugh and Kitty Lynch on January 27, 1934, at St David’s RC Church in Dalkeith.

It is thought that the unique ceremony involving her uncle Hugh and his sister Agnes was the first of its kind in the town.

She said: “We were married at the same church, and our celebrations got me thinking about my parents’ wedding.

“This was definitely the first double ceremony in Dalkeith and it’s only right that it goes down in history.”

A stonemason by trade, Donegal-born Patrick arrived in Midlothian aged 15 to work down the pits. Alongside Kitty and Hugh, Agnes, who was born 
and raised in Dalkeith, lived with her husband in 
the family home at Gibraltar Terrace before the 
couple moved to Woodburn Bank.

Mary met her husband John, who originally hails from Musselburgh, at a church dance in the town. The couple went on to have three children and six grandchildren.

The pair are keen music lovers and both of the fun-loving couple are former members of Newtongrange Folk Club, where John plays the piano while Mary plays the accordion.

Their party pieces at local functions include old classics such as the Everly Brothers’ All I Have To Do Is Dream and John Denver’s Country Roads.

Mary said: “We used to sing a song called The Road and the Miles to Dundee but we cannot do that one any more because we kept bursting into fits of laughter - John used to come in with a big coat and scarf on, and when he sang the words ‘cold winter was howling’ we could not look at each other for laughing.”

The couple, who now live at Newmills Road, also used to run monthly dance events at St David’s.

A former janitor at Esk Valley College, John now spends his time tending his garden.

Mary, meanwhile, worked at Thornton’s in Edinburgh and later at Mackay’s in Dalkeith. Mary and John are also regular worshippers at Our Lady of Loretto Church in Musselburgh.

When asked for the secret to a long and happy marriage, Mary said: “You have got to be friends with whoever you are with and you have to show a wee bit of give and take.

“Always think about how the other person might feel before you do anything to hurt them.”