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Margaret Rooney was born on 29th January 1899 in 2 Lake Terrace, East Jarrow, the fourth child of John and Janet Rooney. She started school at Maisie's School (located near the Allison Arms) at the age of five and transferred to St Peter and Paul's at Tyne Dock when she was seven. At the age of 12 she became a boarder at St. Anthony's in Sunderland. One of her fondest memories was when her mother would visit her on a weekend and take her out to tea in Sunderland. At fifteen she entered the Modern School (located above a jeweller's shop in King Street South Shields) to train as a secretary, and after two years joined the firm of Reynoldsons Solicitors in King Street.
Whilst at school Margaret joined the Ladies Amateur Swimming Club, based at the Walter Street baths in Jarrow. She was evidently a good swimmer, as evidenced by the number of trophies shown in the picture below. The most prominent trophy is the Kirkley Cup, but she also had a gold medal for winning the 1/2 mile freestyle in 1915. The baths closed in 1915 because of the Great War, the Kirkley Cup was returned to the club and was not heard of thereafter.
Margaret Rooney with swimming trophies - Lake House circa 1915
As the daughter of a farmer, albeit a tenant farmer, Margaret had a relatively middle-class upbringing. Before 1914 Lake House farm was prosperous, with a lucrative contract to transport waste from the Hedworth Barium Works to Tyne Dock for disposal at sea. The farm also had a small dairy herd of 20 cows and sold the milk to local residents. The farm also kept nanny goats to provide milk for her brother George who had delicate health. These goats were notorious in the area for chasing children. In addition there were 100 acres of arable land given over to potatoes, cabbages, turnips and corn.
Margaret met Wilfred Brennan in 1917 at a picnic held in Diebald's Field, which was near Primrose Hill Hospital. They married on October 19th 1918 at St Peter and Paul's Tyne Dock. They had ten children in all - the picture below shows Margaret with all ten at her 90th birthday party in 1989. She died in 1993 at the age of 94 and is buried with Wilfred in Jarrow Cemetery.
Margaret Brennan, her children (identified by *) and their spouses - 1989
(sitting: left to right) Mildred Rowan* : Val Brennan : Pat Brennan : Marie Connolly* : Blanche Brennan : Wilfred Brennan* : MARGARET BRENNAN : Vera Campbell* : Kathleen Brennan : Kathleen Brennan : Gladys Brennan : Celie O'Neill*
(standing: left to right) Jimmy Rowan : Chris Brennan* : Frank Brennan* : John Connolly : Michael Campbell : Harry Brennan* : Michael Brennan* : Kevin Brennan* : Frank O'Neill
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