Maggie Fox

Maggie Fox came to mind a number of times these past few months. I hadn’t thought of her for years. When I was a child she used visit our house nearly every Sunday evening after tea. She lived down the lane beside Bernard and Seamus Smith’s house. She brought a weekly roundup of local news gathered from her own correspondents, Mary Anne Carty, Agnes Alwill, Nanny Lynch, Maria Gilsenan and Pat the Merchant. Those were the days before television and when even radios were rare in the parish. Apart from her local sources Miss Fox, as we always called her, had another – she read newspapers, something not a lot of people did. Her visits would be long. I can’t remember if she was still coming when we would be glued to Take Your Pick on Radio Luxmemburg; the programme where we’d wait tensely to see if the granny from Liverpool who took the mighty risk of opening the box rather that pocketing her £25 would win the fabulous sum of £100. Once Miss Fox arrived all counter attractions would be closed down. While I’ m on that subject, –I once heard a description of people in the parish who were very attentive to visitors. “They’re the sort of people that would turn off even The Riordans if you came in.”  At times on summer evenings she’d tap tap off down the path with her walking stick only shortly before Sean Og O Ceallachain was due on air at 10:00.

Now why should she come to mind over 50 years after she died. It all has to do with the story of the young lads trapped three kilometres inside a water-filled cave in Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand.  As I write this I am sitting in an office in the college in Bangkok (Thailand) where I work for about seven months every year. (I work another three in Beijing).   Miss Fox occasionally had a high-impact story.  I was about four years old when I heard her telling my mother about a coffin that had to be dug up in some foreign part. What did they find? The body had turned right around; the person had been buried alive d’ye see?’ I remember my mother assuring me the next day that this sort of thing absolutely could never ever happen again, but still, the story haunted me for years; could I be buried alive?  As the media here in Thailand were full of stories of the boys buried in the cave Miss Fox’s story floated to the surface again. I could sympathize with students who told me they couldn’t sleep at night thinking about the situation. Happily, apart from one sad death of a diver the story had a good ending.

A grand woman Miss Fox, but still, at times it might have been just as well if she had just stuck with the stories from the Chronicle.

Alo Connaughton. Ballinacree. Thailand/China 2018

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