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Whist-playing Barra great-grandma turns 100 and still lives in house she was born in

Today marks the 100th birthday of one of the Isle of Barra’s oldest residents, Peigi Haggarty.

The great-great grandma still lives in the house in Borve that she was born into on June 2 1922 and currently lives with her eldest daughter.

Mrs Haggarty keeps her mind active by playing card games daily, and has regular visits from all her family.

Grandson Angus John MacLean, known as AJ, described his grandma as “brilliant” saying that she is “just class”.

He said: “She is witty – just the very best. She still has all her faculties. All my lot adore her.

“We go over every Friday and play whist with her. She doesn’t always win – but she is very good.

“My mum and dad go down every day and play cards with her.”

Peigi Haggarty on Barra celebrated her 100th birthday with family young and old.

He said that Mrs Haggarty has lived on Barra, at Borve, for the last 63 years since her eldest child was born.

Before that she lived in Oban during the Second World War and was a postmistress there.

Peigi MacNeil, as she was before she wed, met her future husband Angus John Haggarty while she lived in the Argyll port.

The couple married in Oban, at the Cathedral of the Isles, in the district of Kilmore and Kilbride in 1956.

AJ said that as a child he knew only Gaelic until he was four.

He said: “Even today she is a little hard of hearing, but if you speak in Gaelic in a whisper she will hear you.

“My wife is from East Kilbride and my grandma often doesn’t understand her – but she understands every word in Gaelic.

“It was her first language and she loves to hear it spoken. She listens to Radio nan Gàidheal and she really likes the request show on a Friday night.”

He continued: “She is very religious.

“She still says the rosary every day at 2pm.”

In fact, her religion is very important to her with the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles being one of the first people over her door to wish her a happy 100th birthday.

AJ continued: “She has left the island a handful of times in the last 20 years. For her 80th and 90th birthday celebrations she made a pilgrimage to the Knock Shrine in Ireland.

“And she has been to Oban a few times, but that is it.

“Unless the Pope makes a visit to Borve in the next wee while, she won’t get to meet him. I am sure she would have really liked to have met him as well, as long as he played a game of whist. He shouldn’t expect to win.”

‘She always has time for us’

Before the pandemic Mrs Haggarty would enjoy a game of cards with friends every Sunday afternoon at the island’s whist club.

Peigi Haggarty with one of her regular visitors Canon MacKinnon.

AJ, who works for CalMac as a relief engineer, said: “She used to look after me as a wee boy when my mum was working and she would get me ready for school. She didn’t let you get away with much.

“But she loved us all, and she would always have time for us. And of course, especially if we were playing cards.”

He added: “She has been overwhelmed with all the attention for her birthday. She has been interviewed and she will be on the TV at the weekend.”

Mrs Haggarty’s husband died in 1982 aged 58.

The couple had two children Sandra and Cursty Peigi – then two grandchildren AJ and Marion. There are six great-grandchildren.

She was born into a family with three sisters and a brother – who have all since died.

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