Ashley Morrison's Blog

October 1, 2021

Mum said “good-bye” this morning.

She will be greatly missed by all the family – especially by her three sons, Terence, Nicholas and me.
Mary Morrison

According to the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages document, which she kept in the safe…

Mary Isabella Gallagher's Registration of Birth.

.. Mum was born on the 31st of May 1932 in the District of Fannett, in the Irish County of Donegal – and they called her Mary Isabella.

Under her bed my daughter, Chloe, found a large box that was full of pictures – many of which none of us had ever seen before – like this one of her Mum & Dad,  Kathleen McKemey (18) and Daniel Gallagher (33)…

Catherine McKemey and Daniel Gallagher on their wedding day.

.. which, according to what she wrote on the back, was taken in October 1924 on their wedding day.
And so it’s some of those pictures that I would now like to use here, to help me tell this story about this amazing person that I was always so proud to call my Mum

She was the eldest girl in a family of eleven, eight boys and three girls.

One of the earliest pictures that I found, was this one of her when she was 14, with her two sisters, Sadie (10) and Ann (7), taken in 1946 outside their family home in Moross…

Sadie, Mary and Ann Gallagher

.. with a note beside it saying the “summer after mum died”.
So yes, she lost her Mum when she was only 13 – which is hard to imagine.
Anyway, on the 8th of April 1953, she began her training at Ards Hospital in Northern Ireland – and on the 30th of May 1956, according to framed certificate that I found, she “passed the examinations held to test her proficiency, and has preformed her nursing duties to our satisfaction.”
So she, along with her two sisters who followed her led, became a State Registered Nurse…

Mary Isabella Gallagher

.. and it was around that time it seems, that she met John Morrison (a young farmer from the Ards Peninsula) at a dance in Regent House.
And on the 19th of September 1957, she became known as Mary Isobel Morrison from that day on – as seen here with her brothers (Dan, John, Robert, Tommie, Charlie, Jim and Alfred) and sisters (Sadie and Ann) on her wedding day…

The Gallagher family in 1957.

.. along with Dan’s wife, Joan – and John Morrison…

John and Mary Morrison on their wedding day.

.. who a few years later became my Dad

Swimming was a big part of our lives when I young – and she, as seen here at the back on the far left of this picture of INST swimming club…

Inst swimming team

.. was very much into it as well.
She even flew out to Australia to watch me compete in the 1982 Commonwealth Games – to my surprise – because she never mentioned she was going before I left, the week before the Opening Ceremony…

Opening Ceremony at the 1982 Commonwealth Games

.. which she clearly enjoyed, as she took loads of pictures of that.
So yes, one of the nicest memories that I have of her was at the start of my first event, looking up into the spectator gallery as they announced my name and seeing her with her sister, Sadie, waving their arms and cheering.

I couldn’t believe it – but that was my mum

She loved to travel – and as did my father – seen here together at Thousand Islands on their way to Kingston in 1995…

Mary and John Morrison at Thousand Islands

.. with a note on the back saying: USA on the far side.
So there are lots of pictures of the both of them in various part of the world – as well as lots of pictures of herself with her two sisters, Sadie…

Mary and Sadie

.. who lives in Sydney – and Ann…

Ann and Mary in New York.

.. who lives in New York City.

Many of which I had never seen before.

The picture that I use at the start, by the way, I took of her in a kitchen we were shooting that was featured in the October/November 2005 issue of 25 Beautiful Kitchens magazine…

October/November 2005 issue of 25 Beautiful Kitchens magazine.

.. which she kept in her bedside table – where she stood-in as the homeowner.
So that was definitely one of my favourite images of her, as well as this one…

Mary Morrison's 71st Birthday party.

.. which I took at her 71st birthday party

One thing is for sure, I will miss her and she will be greatly missed by all the family – including her six grandchildren, Ross, Ryan, Amber, Chloe, Holly and Ella – and her dog, Venus…


.. which the people of Ballywalter knew was always by her side.

The end of a chapter, Mum – but not the story  – as you live on in each of us


March 4, 2010

A day to remember.

Filed under: Family — Ashley Morrison @ 10:30 am

John Morrison.
John Morrison: 23rd November 1929 – 1st March 2010.

“Dad was born on the 23rd November 1929 at “Hill View Farm” as it was known back then. Now that was a very special day for his Father and Mother – William and Eleanor…

William and Eleanor Morrison

.. and his Big sister Elizabeth (who is with us here today).

Dad and Elizabeth grew up on “Hill View Farm” and attended Ballyboley School just outside Carrowdore – some 3 miles away. Things were very different back then. They would happily walk to and from school each day – and that love for walking remained with Dad throughout his entire life.
He loved to walk – and was always on the Go.

Dad grew up while the Second World War raged throughout Europe – and a story he loved to tell, was how he was stopped one day by American soldiers, while walking home from school.
It seems the soldiers asked for his papers – but he had forgotten them – so he was promptly marched up the road by the soldiers to their Base Camp.
Base Camp turned out to be ‘Hill View Farm’ no less – and for him, this was most exciting.

Dad left school at about age 16 and followed in his fathers’ footsteps to be a farmer.

Picture of John Morrison.

It seems one of his first requests was that the horse & plough had to go – to be replaced by the all new mechanical horse – the Tractor.
He was very much a progressive farmer and loved farming.

Dad however had many interests outside farming.
One was his great passion for motorcycles – and soon he had his own BSA to get him around.
He also was an active member in the amateur dramatics at Ballywalter Young Farmers Club – and loved going to dances.
It was at a Regent House dance in 1956 – he met a beautiful girl from Donegal called Mary – who became his loving wife … and in turn became Our Mum.

Mum and Dad married in 1957…

John and Mary Morrison on their wedding day.

.. and made “Hill View Farm” their home.

Farming was changing and Dad like many others, started to introduce British Friesian dairy cows onto the farm – and also was very much involved in the N.I Poultry industry…..this was the working Dad that I first remember.

Work was not enough for him, Dad was an active member of the Ballywalter Presbyterian Church and he also enjoyed being a member of the Lighthouse Masonic Lodge….he never did tell us what the initiation was or about the secret handshake.

In the late Sixties Dad and Mum introduced us all to “the world of swimming” and this was where we were to spend our time as a family. It all began at Butlins Mosney then Templemore Baths in Belfast. Memories of him racing along the Portaferry Road in his Ford Capri or Corsair 2000E, will live with us always – and as soon as the new pool was opened in Newtownards, we joined Ards Swimming Club, and that was the start of a 20-year sporting interest, which he became very heavily involved in.

Dad loved it – and especially loved it when he was asked to be the official race starter at major galas.
He was a real quick starter, no time for waiting…..he was always ready to GO…


INST swim team

.. Leander and Bangor Swimming clubs followed and there were many early mornings and weekends away at competitions , he was always there to support us and give us the encouragement that we needed.

For Dad the whole swimming circle was a real step outside the farming world that he had grown up in. It was a great opportunity to visit and see different parts of the world; his visit to see Ashley in Houston, Texas…

John Morrison with Phill Hansel (Coach) and the University of Houston mens swimming team during the Spring of 1981.

.. was one trip Dad still talked about with great excitement and fondness, and the photograph of him today was taken when he visited NASA back in 1981…

John Morrison.

.. he was ready for lift off…ready to GO !!

By this stage Dad decided to change direction from farming and joined the Department of Agriculture, just beside us here, today, at Crossnagreevy. He spent many a happy time working there and until recently would have referred to his colleagues and friends there.
Then during the mid eighties Dad seized the opportunity to start his own business on the farm in the agricultural supply industry, which he continued with right up to the point were we as a family recommended that he really should stop working, especially when he started to believe he was Eddie Irvine on the fork lift –

He loved watching Eddie – who we swam with at Ards – and the whole formula one racing scene.

Believe it or not this was around the same time that his love for motorcycles was rekindled, and he decided to buy a 1956 Francis Barnett motorcycle. Please appreciate that at this stage he was in his Seventies… we were not quite sure who was going to be more surprised as he planned to race up and down the local roads; us or the neighbours… as one neighbour said to me “clear the roads!!! John’s coming !!”
Alas it was never to be, Dad had forgotten that to get the motorcycle started you needed a strong right kicking leg.

Dad will be greatly missed by all the family, but especially by Mum…

Mary and Dorthy

.. Terence, Ashley and Me.

Love you Dad!

It’s time to go.”

by Nicholas Morrison.

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