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DUBLIN FAMILY FINDS SERENITY, PEACE

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Some might look at the transformation for good in Liam Gallagher's life during the past eight years and call it the luck o' the Irish. But the president of the Dublin Ireland Stake is quick to recognize the gospel as the source of joy and blessings since his baptism in June 1988.

Pres. Gallagher (pronounced Gal-a-her) and his wife, Carmel, share an intense enthusiasm for life in general and for the Lord's work in particular. The couple has six daughters, ranging in age from 19-month-old twins to 11 years. "We are a happy-go-lucky family," the president said.Though happy, the Gallaghers face their share of challenges and are, like many LDS families, extraordinarily busy. The Dublin stake was created in March out of the Dublin Ireland District and includes four wards and five branches spread across an area approximately 140 miles square. The 32-year-old stake president puts in long Sundays of service, along with fulfilling his Church duties on some weeknights. Sister Gallagher teaches Relief Society and an evening institute class. The two set aside Thursday as their date night.

"Those nights are just our time," she noted. "We look forward to being together, and we just do our best to keep everything going properly during busy times."

President Gallagher, who was district president for a year before his call as stake president, said that putting the Lord first and maintaining balance help them juggle their roles and responsibilities.

"It means an awful lot to have a wife and children who love you and who are fully behind you," he said. "We try to maintain balance through our date night and by holding weekly family home evenings. Friday nights are set aside for family activities with the children.

"We have found that if we live the gospel, marriage and family relationships take on a maturity that enables us to work out problems. If you have the Spirit in the home, everything else works out."

Since their baptisms, the Gallaghers, both the only Church members in their respective families, have seen the softening influence of the Spirit in the lives of their parents and siblings as well. Both were born in Dublin in the predominantly Catholic Republic of Ireland. And both experienced intense family opposition to their conversions.

"While growing up, we didn't have a lot," Pres. Gallagher said. "My father taught me to respect my elders, have good manners and work hard. He would say, `Son, if you want something in this life you have to work for it.' That's been good."

The Gallaghers both enjoyed dancing, which is how they met.

Following his marriage, Pres. Gallagher saw a boyhood friend become interested in the Church and begin to meet with the missionaries. He would visit the couple and talk about what he was learning. "We were convinced he had flipped," said Sister Gallagher.

Eventually, Pres. Gallagher, his father and some friends attended the friend's baptism. While there, the future stake president was touched by a story told by one of the missionaries, but didn't act upon his feelings.

"I told my friend I didn't care what he became, we were still mates, but don't come over and preach to us," recalled Pres. Gallagher, smiling. "He came to the house and talked about the gospel anyway."

The friend asked Liam if he wanted to meet the missionaries. Pres. Gallagher said he wanted to meet the missionary who had given the nice talk at the baptism. He did so and watched a Church videotape at his friend's home. They set another meeting, and Pres. Gallagher began to pray in earnest for help in overcoming a Word of Wisdom problem.

The missionaries wanted to meet with both Brother and Sister Gallagher and he consented, but didn't tell his wife until 15 minutes before they were scheduled to arrive. "At 6:45 I told Carmel the Mormons were coming; she just flipped," he said. "The missionaries came with two others. I thought, `Great, you show a little interest and they bring the whole Church over.'

"One missionary said, `We feel good about this date for your baptism.' I responded, `I'm glad you do, because I don't.' "

The friend and missionaries persisted, however, and the first time Pres. Gallagher stepped into the corridor of an LDS meetinghouse to attend Church services "tears started running down my face. I felt a great warmth there."

He soon committed to baptism on June 26, 1988. "After circling that date on the calendar, I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy and started to sing, which isn't a pretty thing. It was the greatest decision I ever made."

Six months later, Pres. Gallagher baptized his wife. "The greatest blessing I had up to that time was baptizing Carmel. From the day we've done that, everything has been centered around the Church and our family." In March 1990 the Gallaghers were sealed in the London Temple.

"We look back and appreciate where we are," reflected Pres. Gallagher, who acknowledged some "rough habits and friends" in his youth. Many of those friends now look to him for counsel and help, Sister Gallagher noted.

The couple's families were initially appalled at their decision to join the Church. "My father disowned me, and my sisters cast me out and wouldn't speak to me for two years," he said. "Yet now, with the changes they've seen in us and through the examples of our children, my family thinks it's the greatest thing we've ever done. My father says if he were a younger man he would probably join the Church."

Sister Gallagher's family, initially staunchly opposed, has responded the same way over time.

Working through those family adjustments gives the Gallaghers empathy for other members in similar circumstances.

"We have a lot of difficulties in the stake because of unemployment and family pressures on members and have many part-member families," Pres. Gallagher said. "We have a lot of sisters whose husbands are not members of the Church and who are some of our most faithful members. It is difficult for them to keep persevering, to keep enduring in faith that their partners may come into the waters of baptism. We also have many beautiful single sisters, but not that many single brethren, which is a challenge."

Pres. and Sister Gallagher said the recent visit of President Gordon B. Hinckley to Dublin was a huge boost to member morale, and noted also the blessing of the Dublin stake creation in March and visits by the London Temple president, Arthur J. Turvey, and Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy for a regional conference in the past year.

"We have been counseled to stay in our own land and build the kingdom here, and we have been truly blessed in the last 12 months," he said. "We have had peace in this land for a year, for the first time in 25 years. We have families coming together, which hasn't happened before. There is a great joy and love that seems to be spreading in this land.

"Within our stake we are working to have more families attend the temple and be sealed together. Our bishops, branch presidents and quorum presidencies are reaching out to the less-active, and as our members are strengthened they have an increased desire to share their testimonies. We have seen many families coming back. We feel we will continue to grow and prosper. We know it won't be easy, but we are trying to bring the Church out of obscurity here. The Lord has opened many doors, and families are starting to be blessed. Sometimes we don't feel it happens quickly enough, but we have to be patient and faithful. I always say, `Keep the gospel simple and learn the basic principles within the home, and you can't help but be blessed and have the Spirit with you.'

"It's lovely, it's the beauty of the gospel."