The Legend of Margorie McCall

By on May 6, 2013

The legend of the “Lady with the Ring,” a woman who was accidentally buried alive, but revived when the grave diggers returned to steal her valuable jewelry.
The grave of Margorie McCall - lived once, buried twice

While some believe the story of Margorie McCall, the “Lady with the Ring,” is true, others believe a lack of evidence and burial records suggest the legend of the Lurgan woman who survived premature burial is mere folklore. The famous gravestone was created by stonemason William Graham and placed in Shankill Cemetery in 1860. According to researchers, the church has no records of a Margorie McCall buried in 1705, nor of her being buried again later.

True or not, here’s the story of Margorie McCall, the woman who died once, but was buried twice:

After succumbing to a fever of some sort in 1705, Irish woman Margorie McCall was hastily buried to prevent the spread of whatever had done her in. Margorie was buried with a valuable ring, which her husband had been unable to remove due to swelling. This made her an even better target for body snatchers, who could cash in on both the corpse and the ring.

The evening after Margorie was buried, before the soil had even settled, the grave-robbers showed up and started digging. Unable to pry the ring off the finger, they decided to cut the finger off. As soon as blood was drawn, Margorie awoke from her coma, sat straight up and screamed.

The fate of the grave-robbers remains unknown. One story says the men dropped dead on the spot, while another claims they fled and never returned to their chosen profession.

Margorie climbed out of the hole and made her way back to her home.

Her husband John, a doctor, was at home with the children when he heard a knock at the door. He told the children, “If your mother were still alive, I’d swear that was her knock.”

When he opened the door to find his wife standing there, dressed in her burial clothes, blood dripping from her finger but very much alive, he dropped dead to the floor. He was buried in the plot Margorie had vacated.

The grave of Margorie McCall, who rose from the grave in Lurgan, Ireland

Margorie went on to re-marry and have several children. When she did finally die, she was returned to Shankill Cemetery in Lurgan, Ireland, where her gravestone still stands. It bears the inscription “Lived Once, Buried Twice.”


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  2. Roberto

    April 17, 2016 at 3:02 am

    Thank you for sharing this interesting sto?y.

  3. Susan

    February 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    People were buried alive by accident a lot back then. That is where the saying “saved by the bell” comes from. People had bells tied to their fingers which they wrung if they woke up.

    • Glen Stone

      March 9, 2017 at 5:10 am

      Nope. Saved by the bell comes from boxing, where a bell is rung to signal the end of a round of fighting. If that happens while a fighter is being counted out, the count is stopped and the boxer is saved from losing – saved by the bell.

      Now, there was a fad for burial/coffin designs intended to allow those accidentally buried alive to signal for help. These often included bells.

      However, it’s not the source of the saying.

      • Luke Blaker

        July 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        The phrase “dead ringer” originates from this.

        • Joe Edreira

          August 17, 2017 at 7:17 am

          Dead ringer is an idiom in English. It means “an exact duplicate” and derives from 19th-century horse-racing slang for a horse presented “under a false name and pedigree”; “ringer” was a late nineteenth-century term for a duplicate, usually with implications of dishonesty, and “dead” in this case means “precise”, as in “dead centre”.

          The term is sometimes implausibly said to derive, like “saved by the bell”, from a custom of providing a cord in coffins for someone who has been buried alive to ring a bell to call for help.

    • Joe W

      September 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Correct, the buried did have bell attached and the saying ‘saved by the bell’ originated because of this. The boxing fraternity addopted this saying because a bell was used to start and stop a bout, sometimes saving a boxer from being knocked down. (Down and out is a saying that comes from boxing)

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  5. Shannon (wvclaylady)

    January 6, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Wow! How lucky was she that those grave robbers came along? Thank you for sharing this story. 🙂

  6. Tom Byrne

    January 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

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