News Release

Kathleen celebrates her 88th birthday on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is being celebrated on Monday 8th March 2021.  This is also a special day for Kathleen Callaghan from the Foyle Ward, Belfast Northern Ireland Stake who celebrates her 88th birthday.


This year the theme of International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. Kathleen is the epitome of a strong, courageous and faithful woman who is a pioneer of challenge.

Kathleen was born in Castlederg, Northern Ireland. She was one of 7 children. Her family moved to Glasgow, Scotland when she was 2 years old. They lived in poverty and Kathleen and her siblings never had much. Kathleen went to work in a factory when she was 13. She was shrewd enough to see at that time that one of the few jobs where a woman could get equal pay, was as a tram conductor. So, she worked hard and became a tram conductor.

Kathleen then got married and had 5 children. Unfortunately, her marriage broke up and she decided to move back to Northern Ireland when the ‘Troubles’ were at their height. She settled in Derry/Londonderry. In 1976 she met the missionaries. Kathleen had smoked from the age of 13. When she began her journey with the missionaries, which led to her being baptised in 1977 she stopped smoking. Her doctor said it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.

Her middle child, Yvonne suffered severe depression from the age of 17. She was a patient at the local psychiatric hospital. This was in an era when mental health was not discussed and was almost a taboo subject. This did not deter Kathleen. She regularly visited her daughter in hospital. Her visits were so frequent that she knew all the staff and other patients by name. When Yvonne was 27, she took her own life. Despite this loss and the loss of her 6 siblings – at ages 2, 5, 40, 59, 60 and 63 Kathleen remained strong and positive for the sake of her 4 other children.

Kathleen, now 88, is confined to a wheelchair and must be cared for. But she remains resolute. She has always retained a sense of humour and a sharp wit. One of her sayings to her family, sums up this beautiful and wonderfully strong woman: “life’s hard enough without being mature about it”

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