Letters to the Editor

Loanhead Gala Day

The committee must be complimented for their vision making the celebration of 100 gala day queens a unique event.

Despite their commitment and a year of hard work, it seemed that all was to be ruined by a week of torrential rain. Cancellation seemed the only logical thing to do.

The committee boldly looked beyond this cold logic and took on the challenges of nature. Learning that the Memorial Park was waterlogged and consequently unavailable was seen only as another difficulty to be dealt with.

Streets were closed off, traffic redirected, with car parks and streets taken over used for stalls and side shows which serve to complement the day.

The gala day, despite all the difficulties, was marvellous!

I never miss the gala day.My wife, Mary Purcell, was a former queen 62 years ago. Through her I was invited to celebrate in the event. In fact, I surrendered my invitation to Mary’s sister Josephine who left Loanhead about 50 years ago to become a nun.

It delighted me hearing older ladies in the crowd recognise her: “Look, there’s Josephine Purcell. She used to do my hair up at Doreen’s.”

I met former queens including Alison Flockhart, Bridget Gordon, Margaret Noakes and Jacqueline Purcell. So many previous heralds and ladies who had performed the crowning were there.

This made 2012 different, gathering together so many, from years of Loanhead folk. Magaret Noakes travels over for the gala day every year, from France where she lives now.

Sadly, I learned that Cathy Duncan, our queen in 1934 died a few weeks earlier.

Looking at the souvenir brochure is a journey down memory lane. This book, the work of Alan McLaren and Joe Gilhooley, assisted by many others, is a beautifully recorded history of Loanhead celebrating as a community.

The gala day this year was a bigger event than in previous years, with more bands and groups on parade. Alan McLaren and the officials kept all under control. And always at the core, Ross Perfect, making everything click.

A prayer led by the Reverend Alan Duffin opened the crowning ceremony. The young ladies, all beautiful and dressed so elegantly, with the boys attired in our national kilts, presented a tableau of elegance. What a beautiful day it was, to recall previous years, to enjoy the present and to create memories of tomorrow.

My personal thanks to the gala day committee and to all the present day folk in Loanhead.

Michael Gilhooley


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