Living off Grid: Fermanagh woman on life she loves without electricity or running water

Since her birth during the second World War, Margaret Gallagher has called Mullylusty Cottage near Belcoo, Co Fermanagh, home.

She’s never moved - and while the world around her has installed electricity, gas, running water and modern appliances, Margaret has never felt the need to.

She said: “I love it. It’s moulded round me and it’s part of me. I like the silence, I’ve just got a clock ticking.”

Cooking is done by an old-fashioned open hearth fire. Cast-iron pans can support everything from roast chickens to scones and cakes. And it’s also used to heat water for cleaning.

“When I get up in the morning I’ll have the pot of water on the fire. The water is warm enough for me to wash myself.

“After that I’ll have tea and toast and I’m half-normal after that. I’ll do my prayers then and then get on with whatever I have to do for the day like carry water from the well, bring in more logs, go to Belcoo or go to mass.”

Margaret's open fire is a source of cooking and heating water

Mullylusty Cottage has stood through famine and wars.

And Margaret’s dedication to maintaining both the house and the style of living has many benefits.

She explained: “I like the freedom. I’m my own woman. My bills are paid all at once. I like the fact I was born into it and if God’s gracious enough with me he’ll let me die in it.

“I just love walking around the house looking at it.”

And while she has daily worries about her thatched roof, finding oil lamps to light the house and cutting turf, they aren’t anything that really concerns the 81-year-old.

Margaret said: “People are a worry. As long as my family in England are ok. Things are never worth worrying about because they’ll always work themselves out.”

Living Off Grid airs Tuesday 2 May and Tuesday 9 May at 8.30pm on UTV. You can also catch up later here.

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