Voices of the
ELDER HAS FOND MEMORIES OF YESTERYEAR
Elder was only five years old when he moved with his family from Dublin to come
to the 'prosperous' new province of Northern Ireland.
was just a few years after the Easter Rising of 1916 and there was still trouble
in Ireland's capital, where poverty was rife and work scarce.
father took his family across the border in 1922 during the time of partition,
to a place filled with promises of a better life ahead.
remembers the journey well, as the family of six travelled north in a lorry.
They were stopped by a friendly B Special who welcomed them to Lisburn at Moores
family acquired a house on the Ballynahinch Road which was filled with oil lamps
and considerable love and happiness.
education soon began at Sloan Street Primary School, where he came under the
tutelage of teachers Miss Coulter and Miss Torrens. They would often send young
Billy to the shop to get their lunch and asked him to fetch coal for the fire in
liked school," said Billy. "It was a place with no complications.
remember having to write with chalks and slates and learning your ABCs."
At the age of just 14 Billy tried to leave school, but because of a job scarcity
he stayed on for another year to help the teacher with the younger classes.
When he eventually left school at 15, he obtained a job on Scott's milk van, and
then went to work in a farm in Dromore. He had to cycle 16 miles every day,
leaving his home at 6.30am six days a week. Far his hard work he received 12
His father, an engineer by trade, was offered a job in Sligo when Billy was
young and because of the lack of jobs in the area at the time, decided to take
He returned home at Christmas and Easter, while Billy's mother visited his
father once a month.
His mother relied on Billy and his other brother to be the men of the house.
his spare time Billy often did a full day's work before cycling with his friends
to Newcastle, or to some other seaside rests around the Province.
"We never thought anything of cycling that far," said Billy.
"Everyone had a bike. Sometimes today people tend to be a bit lazy and
would never dream of having to cycle 30-odd miles to see the sea. But we
He often also attended the local dances where he met his wife, Eleanor Downey.
Billy had been courting her on and off for sometime but the relationship ran
into trouble. Eleanor's_ mother did not want Billy to associate with her
daughter and to try and end the relationship, she sent Billy a letter pretending
to be Eleanor saying she didn't want to have anything to do with him. .
Before Eleanor's mother died she confessed to her sons who told Billy what
happened. Billy and Eleanor met up again and married a few years later in 1941
at Magheragall Church. .
had always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and decided to go and do
engineering at the local technical college.
"The interest in engineering never left me," said Billy.
"Work was not always plentiful. But if you were not working you would go
and just get another job. No‑one would have dreamt of getting social
benefits. I never had to go on the dole in my life.
I left one job on Friday I got another by the Monday morning. You may not have
liked it but it was a job."
During his life he had a host of jobs at what seems like every company in
Lisburn. He worked at Smyth Patterson's, Jefferson's, Barbour Threads and enjoyed
25 years as a foreman at Farrans.
Eleanor and Billy spent a contented life together until she died after a short
illness two decades later. He later got married Sarah Stewart and the couple
have lived at Beechdene Drive ever since.
Looking ahead to the the Millennium, Billy wants people to enjoy and revel in
do host whatever else the Millennium brings it stings happiness and there is no
longer bitterness and fighting," he added.
hope future will be filled with good honest people and I would not want to see
people becoming more and more wrapped up in themselves."