| 0°C Belfast

Woman who shared train with Queen passes away


Remembered: Mary Begley worked at Bellarena Train Station for years

Remembered: Mary Begley worked at Bellarena Train Station for years

Remembered: Mary Begley worked at Bellarena Train Station for years

Tributes have been paid to a Co Londonderry woman who once shared a train ride with the Queen after opening the station gates for 30 years.

Mary Begley (nee McCorriston) passed away at the age of 92 on January 8 and was remembered as a reliable friend to rail passengers for decades, working seven days a week as the crossing keeper at Bellarena Train Station.

Starting on a weekly wage of £1.50, the role saw her live at the railway house and rising dutifully at 4.15am every morning to open the gates.

Although she left the role almost 40 years ago she was chosen in 2016 to join the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on a steam train journey along the north coast travelling from Coleraine to a newly extended Bellarena platform.

It was a journey along the north coast the royal couple had previously made together in 1953.

Although the Queen unveiled a plaque on the platform at the time, Translink removed it within hours over fears it may be vandalised.

A family notice described Mrs Begley, a great-grandmother, as the beloved wife of the late Mickey and mother to Ann, Marian, Patricia, Gerard and Brian, mother-of-law of Anne, Laurence, Alan, Seamus and the late Dawn.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the house is strictly private, with a funeral mass on Sunday at 11am also limited to family members.

The service can be viewed via the parish Facebook page of St Aidan's Parish, Magilligan.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, her son Gerard Begley said his mother had lived a long and happy life.

"We were both on the train with the Queen together. I remember when she was first told about it, she just couldn't believe it," he said.

"It was wonderful and she really has great memories of it."

As well as her longstanding role as a gate opener, Mrs Begley was a dressmaker by trade and kept up the craft in her final years.

"She loved her clothes and only recently she had her sewing machine on the table doing bits and pieces for people, she just loved meeting people and doing good for them."

Mr Begley added his mother had still been able to enjoy gardening with her brother in recent weeks.

Belfast Telegraph