Magheraveely in the 1940s


My recollections of life in Magheraveeley in the 1940 as a young man in my twenties are still very clear nearly 50 years later. How could I forget our three working horses, Nellie, Lily and Tom, who worked throughout the year in all sorts of weather. In the winter time we put in an acre or two of winter wheat which was used to feed our family, there were no supermarkets then. After the wheat was brought in we took it by horse and cart to the Donagh mill, owned by Bob Bamford. There the wheat was ground down by two large stones into wheat meal.

The water wheel which turned the stones is still there at Patterson's old place in Donagh. We would then do the same with a crop of corn, turning it into oat-meal to make bread and porridge. The meal was kept in an 'ark' above the kitchen , which was like a long wooden cellar and had to be kept 'mouse-free'

Two or three times a year the horses had to be shod by Bob West, the blacksmith, who had his forge at Midhill between Mervyn Johnston's lane and the old school at Midhill. Apart from the horses, Bob West would shoe cart-wheels, make or repair mowing machines, all done by hand. There were no electric welders or electric drills then. Nearer to the village was the sawmill owned by Andy Ballagh . Andy had some competition from another sawmill owned by McCaffrey's at Oakfield, Knockballymore, near to Sherry's current house.

On the Main Street in Magheraveely the local pub, owned by John McCabe,Snr. opened at 10.00a.m. and closed at 9.00p.m. sharp. Most of the local men like John McCrory, Bob Kennedy, Jim McDonald and Paddy and John Tierney would call in for a few bottles of stout. A local who had no money might knock about outside in the hope that a neighbour or friend who had a few extra shillings might ask him in for a drink.

Down the street from the pub was Joe Wiggins' shop which was later owned by Willie Kennedy . Joe would go round the local neighbourhood and collect eggs which were in turn used as credit by the local women for other basic food stuff for the family. The two Misses Nicholl, who lived beside the post office, had worked at Johnstown castle which is now Willie Robinson's farm. This 'Big House' was owned by a man called Brady who was the local landlord and land-owner . People from all around would work for him. During the Troubles of the 20's this beautiful house was used as a base for the A Specials. Consequently, it was later burnt to the ground by the IRA.

However, my most vivid recollection of the 1940's was the purchase of our first tractor in 1947. Tommy Higgins had just bought the first tractor in the area, a Ford Ferguson, at a cost of £326.00, a lot of money then.

I recall having to go to Stormont Castle in Belfast to see the Minister of Agriculture, a Rev. Robert Moore, and pleading with him to be put on to the priority list to purchase a tractor. The reason for the priority list was because after the war, there were very few raw materials to make tractors, etc, and this meant that only a limited number of tractors were for sale in Northern Ireland. Our application was accepted and we bought our first Ferguson from Hurst's in Belfast. At long last we were now moving into the 20th Century!

These are only a few recollections of 'life in the old days', but if you are ever talking to anyone from the same era, they all have the same remark to make about those times and that was 'Times were hard and the people suffered then, but life was happy and innocent'.

—Joe Leary, Gowny, Magheraveely]]