MEMORIES OF THE WAR YEARS AT HALFTOWN
Harold McBride, born and brought up at Demiville, paints a picture of
life in the Halftown during the war years:
My first memories of Long Kesh was attending auctions
of farms on the Halftown and Bog Roads. My father bought two cows and
several chicken coops at the late Johnny Palmer's auction. The farms
were taken and the residents displaced to build the aerodrome. They also
took 4 acres from my father's farm at Demiville to build a
communications centre. This building was placed close to the farm so
that any German bombers attacking Long Kesh might be confused. The
blast-proof walls were 3 ft. thick and the building had no windows. Army
VIP's used to stay in it, so it was always under heavy guard,
with the guards making us show our identity cards each time we passed up
or down our avenue!
Many aeroplanes crashed on the farm during the war,
sadly sometimes killing the pilot or flight crew, some of which are
buried in Eglantine Parish Church graveyard. One 'plane
crashed in one of our cornfields while my father and the farm workers
were busy harvesting. No crew were killed but the 10 acre field of grain
was destroyed, mainly by locals coming to view the crashed 'plane!
When the 'plane was coming down it passed so low over the
harvester that it blew my father's hat off.
Another crash occurred on the Halftown Road close to
the Blaris Road junction, and as a result the road was closed to traffic
for several days. However, each morning and afternoon a policeman
carried myself and other children under the .fuselage so that
we could get to Newport School, this was in May 1943.
The fields and farmyard at Demiville were often used
by troops, including Americans, for war manoeuvres, and it was not
unusual to wake up and find hundreds of tanks and guns surrounding the
farmhouse. The soldiers often used the hay barns and farm buildings to
sleep in and it was a constant worry to my father that a careless
cigarette butt might burn our total winters cattle fodder! My mother
used to make huge pots of broth and serve it to our khaki clad visitors.
Problems were sometimes caused by the army leaving
gates open and allowing cattle or the farm horses to stray. Quite often
the hungry soldiers raided the hen houses for eggs or the greenhouses
for tomatoes! Once, just prior to Christmas, my father caught some
Americans raiding our turkey flock. A telephone call to the Commanding
Officer at Long Kesh led to apologies and compensation.
On one occasion my father was delivering a lorry load
of hay to a funeral undertaker in Dromore - no doubt to feed his several
carriage horses. Shouting was heard from the back of the lorry, and on
investigation 3 soldiers were found - they had been sleeping in the hay
on the pre-loaded lorry and were surprised to find themselves in
During the war years friends and distant relations
from England would contact us with names of people stationed at Long
Kesh. It was usual for my parents to invite these soldiers to Demiville
for meals and a hot bath. Often these evening would end in a sing song
with my sisters Elsie and Edna playing the piano.
In 1943 my elder sister Edna married Lieutenant Alan
Chapman of the Royal Engineers, one of the many soldiers that were
invited to Demiville, and indeed quite a few Halftown girls married
soldiers who had been stationed at Long Kesh.
THE GAMES WE PLAYED
Years ago most games were played outdoors as there
were no televisions, videos, computers or playstations. Some games were
only associated with girls while others were classed as boys' games, but
a few existed where boys and girls could play together. Team games began
by the two leaders picking a person each to play on their side, and this
continued until everyone was chosen. The tallest one always got picked
first if height was useful in a game, and if speed was the essential
essence of a game then the fastest runner was always picked. Usually the
smallest person involved in the game was picked last.
Ball games were played mostly by girls, the boys usually playing
football. The games were played using either one ball (a tennis ball or
rubber ball), two balls, or three balls. The balls were bounced against
a wall (usually a gable wall), and you clapped your hands before the
ball was caught on the rebound. The number of balls used depended on the
skill acquired. One ball was easy, two more difficult, and using three
meant you were 'a dab hand'. This would be done until they counted ten.
If you dropped a ball, then you started all over again. Many rhymes were
used when playing ball.
Another game played by girls was called 'Queenie, Queenie, who has got
the ball?'. One person with a ball would stand with their back to a
group, and would throw the ball over their shoulder. The person who
caught the ball would hold the ball behind their back, while the others
would also stand with their hands behind their backs. The group would
call out 'Queenie, Queenie, who has got the ball? The
person who threw the ball would turn round and try
and guess who had the ball. If they guessed right then the person who
had caught the ball would take their place and would throw it. If they
guessed incorrectly then they had to turn their back and start again.
Marlies (marbles) was a boys' game. Older marlies were made of stone and
called 'stonies', chalk marlies were 'chalkies' and in the mid-thirties
glass marlies were made and they were known as 'glassies'. Chalkies
disappeared when glassies became popular. Marlies were played on the
ground. When you hit the other fellow's marlie you kept it or if he hit
your marlie he kept yours.
Nobody bought kites years ago, they were home-made, usually by an adult.
They consisted of two strips of wood placed on top of one another to
form a cross and tied securely where they crossed in the middle. A piece
of strong thread or thin cord was tied round each strip and so formed a
square or rectangle. The frame was then covered with an old newspaper.
Tails for the kite were made with strips of paper about 3 inches square
and folded three or four times and then twisted in the middle like a
propeller. The tails were tied in a long line about two inches apart. A
ball of twine was the best to fly the kite with. Flying kites was
usually associated with the autumn when the weather turned windy.
Both boys and girls played this game. The players formed a long straight
line, while the leader shouted commands. Each command had to be preceded
by the order 'O'Grady says', for example 'O'Grady says clap your hands',
and the players clapped their hands. But if the order was `clap your
hands' and you did so, then you were out, because O'Grady hadn't ordered
it. When the orders came thick and fast it was hard to remember whether
O'Grady had given the order. Boys who were in organisations such as the
Boys' Brigade, Life Boys, Church Lads' Brigade or Boy Scouts were hard
to catch out as they played this game as part of their training.
Guiders were built at home, usually using pram wheels or ballbearing
wheels. Guider races were quite competitive and a good pusher was
essential as he pushed as fast as he could and then hopped on the back
going down a hill.
PEERIE AND WHIP
This game was played with a small wooden spinning top, about three
inches long, round in shape and sloping to a point with a steel tip to
make it spin on the ground. The peerie was kept spinning by hitting it
with a little whip. Boys and girls could spend hours trying to keep the
peerie spinning as long as possible.
Many people will also remember playing Tig, Rounders,
Hopscotch, and Skipping, to name a few. Innocent, enthusiastic games
played an era ago.
AN INTRIGUING STORY
THE CLUE OF THE FOUR
SAM HANNA BELL
For over two hundred and fify years horse-racing has been held at the
Maze, on the level floor of the Lagan Valley, near Lisburn. "Race Week
at the Maze" says an old record, "was as much a fair as a meeting and
drew immense numbers of people." The gentry were there, and the strong
farmers; the weavers from the valley, the tradesmen, the vendors of
pies, crubeens and dulse; the ballad-singers, trick-o'-the-loop men,
apprentices, farriers, and many other assorted characters, honest or
shady. And of course, there were present in this great hiving concourse,
the jockeys and horse-dealers. Later in the afternoon of Saturday, July
24, 1813, after the last race of the day, three men, one of them leading
a grey with a switch tail and a cut above the eye, left the still
crowded noisy course and took the road to Hillsborough.
THE MUSICAL TRAMP
The three were Owen McAdam, a horse-dealer of about 28 or 30 years, from
Keady in county Armagh, Bernard McCann, a journeyman baker, aged 26,
employed by Mr Adam Sloan of Lisburn, and a seedy-looking itinerant,
Toby Boyce by name, of indefinite age and occupation. Three very
ordinary individuals, you may say, of no more significance than any of
the other hundreds of the great crowds now drifting away from the Maze
on that July evening. But in the light of the strange and tragic
occurrence that took place in the next twenty-four hours, the movements
of the three wayfarers were to be as carefully uncovered and
investigated as lay in the power of the law in those days.
Reaching Hillsborough they stopped at an eating-house
owned by Mrs. Frances Murdie, where McAdam ordered dinner and asked
permission to stable the grey horse with the switch tail until he was
ready to leave. The three travellers drank freely for a time. McCann
then declared he could eat a dinner but refused to have Toby Boyce in
his company. Not even a jig on the tin whistle by the tramp, who was a
skilled performer, soothed the baker's breast. Blows were struck and
McCann ordered Boyce to clear out. When the tramp claimed Owen McAdam's
friendship the baker was about to set on him again when McAdam,
according to Mrs Murdie, told McCann to "keep his fists in his pockets
or they would get him into trouble".
The tramp, realising that present company held no
profitable future for him that evening, declared he would return to
Lisburn. The young horse-dealer gave him a florin and Boyce decided that
he could still catch the Hillsborough carrier on its way to the
neighbouring town. As they were checking the time, McAdam produced a
watch. The sharp eyes of Toby Boyce noted the figures of four soldiers
engraved on the dial and on admiring the "purty timepiece" he was
informed by McAdam that "there wasn't a watch like it in Ireland". Then
the tramp, after showering his blessings on McAdam and, cursing McCann
for robbing him of a dinner, left the eating-house. More liquor was
ordered by McCann and in the course of their drinking they tossed to
decide who would pay for the dinner. McAdam won and on his being
challenged by McCann that he couldn't have footed the bill anyway, the
horse-dealer produced the result of his week's dealing, a roll of nearly
�70. The baker then refused to accept the toss of the coin and Mrs
Murdie remembered McAdam asking her, "Is it fair, that when we gambled
for our dinner, I should be asked to pay for it?" Whereupon she replied
that it was no concern of hers, so long as one of them paid. The
horse-dealer and the baker then settled down amicably enough to their
meal and liquor, and afterwards, when they had retrieved the grey horse,
they left Mrs Murdie's premises.
THE DARK NIGHT ROAD
Their next call was at the house of John Chambers, a Hillsborough
horse-jobber. There Chambers and McAdam agreed on a price of fifteen
guineas for the grey, but Chambers had only five guineas in the house,
which he wanted McAdam to take, promising him the balance of the money
at the next Dromore horse fair. McAdam wouldn't agree to this, although
as Chambers was later to testify, he was very much urged to do so by the
baker. At seven o'clock they were in James Rooney's public
house at Blaris. There they drank a naggin of spirits
together. They left shortly after, and went towards Lisburn. Later that
evening they returned and knocked Rooney up and got out to the door
half-a-pint of spirits, a small part of which the baker drank and then
filled a glass for McAdam, and when this was finished pressed a second
glass on him. When Rooney protested that McAdam had taken much more than
was good for him, McCann answered that he would "sober up this Keady
man". About ten-thirty that evening the two men and the horse set off in
the dusk towards Lisburn.
WHAT THE MORNING REVEALED
At eight o'clock the following morning, Sunday, John Walker of
Culcavey, saw the body of a man in the canal at Newport Bridge, near
Lisburn. He drew it from the water and sent for Sir George Atkinson, the
noted physician, who lived nearby. There was a deep cut in the back of
the victim's head as if he had been struck with a stick or the butt of a
whip. The neck was much blackened and torn and when Sir George pressed
the corpse's throat much blood issued from the mouth and nostrils. The
dead man's jacket had been dragged down from his shoulders to the
elbows. Sir George gave it as his opinion that the dead man had been
stunned then strangled, before being thrown into the water. The pockets
were empty apart from a button mould and a piece of ginger. During the
inquest the murdered man remained nameless for no one could identify
him. So the body was placed in an open coffin and exposed in Lisburn
churchyard in the hope that someone would recognise the victim. And in
due course someone did. Toby Boyce shuffled up to the railings, took one
look, and declared: "It's Ownie McAdam, Ownie McAdam from Keady. I knew
him well, sir. God rest him, he was as dacent a young fella as ever
stepped. And I can tell ye who murthered him � `twas Barney McCann �
that's the one ye want to catch."
But the baker had disappeared. The last news of him
came from William Mills, proprietor of the Red Cow Inn on the Lurgan
Road, who gave evidence at the inquest:
|At five o'clock on the morning of Sunday, 25th,
a man rapped me up and asked for breakfast. He wore a
light-coloured fustian jacket and britches, white stockings and
buckles on the side of his shoes.
|Did you serve him breakfast?
|I did. When he came to pay, he offered me a
horse he led, for a guinea and the price of his breakfast.
|Did you observe the horse?
|I did. It was a grey horse, about two years
old, rising three, with a bite over the left eye and a switch
|But you did not take his offer?
||As a matter of interest, Mr. Mills, why not?
Was not such a horse for a guinea a cheap bargain?
||Too cheap. Too cheap by far.
|Then you suspected something odd about this
|Nothing that would have made me suspect him as
a murderer. He looked a cool, crafty character. The idea might
have crossed my mind that he came by the animal none too
honestly. But as you, sir, and the gentlemen of the jury well
know, the Maze Races brings many villainous fellows from all
arts and parts. The wise man shows no curiosity in them.
||And after he had breakfasted?
|Paid his bill, caught his horse, and rode off
in the direction of the Armagh Road.
The jury brought in a verdict of Wilful Murder
against Bernard McCann for whom immediate search was made, but the baker
in the fustian jacket and white stockings, riding the grey with the
switch tail, had vanished as completely as if the turnpike road to
Armagh had opened and swallowed him and his mount.
THE FOUR SOLDIERS APPEAR AGAIN
That is, until one night, ten years later, when there occurred one of
the most remarkable coincidences in Irish criminal history. The
fortuitous encounter between two men took place in a tavern in Galway
City. One was the wandering Toby Boyce, still on the roads, with his tin
whistle, and the other a prominent citizen of that western town. Boyce,
it appears, had been summoned from the street by two or three
merrymakers desirous of having a tune with their liquor. Late in the
evening the tavern-keeper refused to serve any more drink "as the clock
had gone twelve midnight and tomorrow was the horse-fair". Several of
the drinkers challenged this ruling and appealed to a quiet,
respectable-looking citizen, a Mr. Hughes, to confirm that the landlord
was mistaken. But Mr. Hughes agreed with the landlord and good-naturedly
drew his watch from his fob in proof. Toby Boyce, on the fringe of the
group, noted with bulging eyes that engraved on the face of the watch
were the figures of four soldiers.
We do not know how the ragged vagrant managed to
convince the Mayor of Galway that James Hughes was not what he seemed to
be. Hughes had married into one of the most prosperous shop-keeping
families in the town and he and his wife had now a family of four
children. He had built up a thriving butchery business and was
considered by his neighbours to be a solid and respectable citizen. Some
remembered his arrival in Galway eight or ten years previously and had a
vague idea that he came from Dublin or the midlands. Certainly he had
never given them the impression that he came from the North, nor, for
that matter, had he ever found need to deny it.
THE FATAL SLIP
The arrest of Hughes (or McCann) created a sensation in Galway. But
after he had been apprehended the accused made several significant
denials and admissions. He denied that he had ever gone by the name
McCann or that he had ever been in Newtownhamilton, McCann's birthplace.
He admitted to Mr. Burke, Mayor of Galway, that he came from the north
and was born within a mile-and-a-half of Dungannon. Then, in
conversation with Burke, he made a fatal slip. "How can they prove that
the dead man who was drunk, didn't fall into the water and get drowned?"
"At that", said Mr. Burke, "I turned away from him. To my knowledge no
one had mentioned the circumstances of McAdam's death to the prisoner."
So, on the 18th June 1923, the accused man was
brought North. In Lisburn courthouse he was questioned by Mr Hugh
Robinson JP on his claim that he was born near Dungannon. Also present
was the Hon and Rev Edmund Knox, Dean of Down, who had lived for many
years in this part of Tyrone. Although he maintained his composure it
was evident that the merchant from Galway was hard put to it at times to
answer the dean's questions. Mr. Robinson brought the examination to an
end: "Bernard McCann, I am not satisfied with your answers, and,
therefore, as magistrate of this county, I return you for trial at the
Assizes to be held in Downpatrick, where you will be indicted for the
murder of Owen McAdam."
The trial was minute and lengthy. Prosecution and
defence brought witnesses from Galway and Newtownhamilton, and from
Hillsborough came Rooney the publican and John Chambers, the jobber in
cows and horses, who recalled the evening on which McAdam and McCann had
called with him, but under cross-examination would not swear that the
man in the dock was McCann. Also unhelpful to the prosecution was the
behaviour in the witness stand of Toby Boyce, the itinerant musician who
played such a strange part in bringing the accused man to trial. It did
not greatly impress the learned judge or the jury. "Of course it's him!
Of course it's Barney McCann! Forget those eyes wid the murder peepin'
out o'them? Ho, ho, ye damned ruffian. You're in the right place now!
The rope's been in the making for ye this past ten years."
||I object. This is completely irrelevant!
||Remove this man from the witness box.
A Mrs Alice Spears, from Newtownhamilton, the
murdered man's sister-in-law, then testified that the watch had been in
the McAdam family for generations and that it was she who gave it to
young Owen on the death of her husband. Mr Burke, Mayor of Galway, told
the court that the watch with the four soldiers on it had been found on
the accused man at the time of his arrest. He declared that he had known
the accused for twelve or thirteen years. He was then cross-examined by
Mr. O'Mally for the prosecution. Also from Galway came Mr. Thomas Ellis,
a shoemaker. He declared that he had known the accused for twelve or
thirteen years. He was then cross-examined by Mr. O'Malley for the
|You say you've known the accused twelve or
thirteen years. Are you sure it's not ten years?
|I'm sure of twelve or thirteen. I made shoes
for Mr. Hughes and his family all that time
|You have a very clear memory, Ellis. How can
you be so positive.
|Another cobbler in Galway owed me 30 shillings
for wages just about the time Mr. Hughes came to Galway. I made
out a bill for the 30 shillings and he hasn't paid me yet.
||And you still remember that 30shillings.
||I'll never forget it.
The prosecution, with greater success, called several
witnesses who swore that the prisoner, Bernard McCann, otherwise James
Hughes, was one and the same man and had lived in Newtownhamilton until
his departure ten years before.
||You say you recognise the accused as Bernard McCann of Newtownhamilton?
|Oh, certainly. Certainly, that's him. His hair
has changed a bit after ten years and he's got a bit lustier.
But that's Barney McCann. That's him all right.
Following the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Justice
Moore summed up and the jury retired to consider their verdict. Within
the hour they returned with a verdict of Guilty.
|And that is the verdict of you all?
|Yes, my lord. And in view of the subsequent
good conduct of the prisoner, we would recommend him to mercy.
|Under the circumstances of the case your
recommendation can have no effect.
McCann, throughout the trial, had behaved with a
calmness amounting almost to indifference. He now mounted to the dock,
firmly and steadily, to hear his fate. Only once did he interrupt to
declare his innocence, whereupon Judge Moore admonished him: "Do not, by
denial, make your condition more miserable than it is. Do not further
taunt your God by appeals of your innocence. Do not, I beseech you,
lay the flattering and dangerous unction to your soul that there is a
shadow of hope that the sentence of the law will not be carried into
effect. Little now remains of my painful duty but to pass upon you,
Bernard McCann, the awful sentence of the law. You shall be removed from
where you stand, to the place from whence you came, the common gaol,
there heavily ironed, until the day of your execution. You shall then
have your irons struck off and be taken to the place where criminals are
usually executed and there hanged by the neck until you are dead. And
may the Eternal and Omnipotent God have mercy on your soul."
On the appointed hour Bernard McCann paid for his
crime. Of what happened to his wife and four little children there is no
record. And what of the fateful timepiece with the four soldiers that
led to his apprehension? Perhaps it is lying today in some drawer or
box, dusty and unwound, having told the duration of a man's lifetime.
For the hardworking people of the Culcavey/Halftown
area, there may have seemed little leisure time. But for some, any free
time could be spent in recollection and the transmission of their
thought into words. The finely tuned words, the evocative phrase was
often about their surroundings and their lives. As we read these words
we can feel their pride of belief and surroundings, and the pleasure and
meaning of the message they impart.
THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM
By Rabbie John Emerson
Rejoice, ye people, all rejoice,
And let the joy bells ring;
United join with heart and voice
To hail the newborn king.
And what a humble, lowly birth
His life work to begin;
No sign of welcome or of mirth,
No room in Bethlehem's inn.
But, lo! A heavenly star so bright
Shone o'er where he was laid.
And shepherds wondering at the sign
Were troubled and afraid.
Those men who knew the eastern sky,
Their starry hosts of night,
Behold the scene with wondering eye
An unfamiliar sight.
And ministering angels overhead
Acclaimed Him for the sky,
While hovering o'er that manger bed
Brought homage from on high.
Rejoice, yea, people all rejoice,
And let the joy bell ring;
United join with heart and voice
To serve the newborn king.
RJ Emerson composed many poems and was given the title
of `The Culcavey Poet' by the Dromore Leader.
By Bertie Emerson
On the Eglantine Estate
In the quiet countryside
Miss Mary Mulholland chose a site
For a private chapel � English style.
Amid the verdant pastures
There's an edifice in stone,
And yew trees stand sentinel
On lawns that are well mown.
With nature's beauty all around
It would be very hard to find
A nicer place wherein to worship
Than in All Saints Eglantine.
By Bertie Emerson
There's a beautiful spot in County Down
Where the Governor lives in our little town.
Governors come and Governors go
They don't go on forever you know!
Lord Wakehurst retired, Lord Erskine came
Tradition was broken, though our laws are the same.
There were many people who thought it not right
That official persuasion should change overnight.
Presbyterians, of course, took a different view,
So red carpet appeared in the Governor's pew.
Lord Erskine, being of Scottish descent,
When Sunday came round to the meeting house went.
There in surroundings, so sturdy and plain,
He heard the old message expounded again.
The Benediction pronounced, church members depart
With true Christian fervour renewed in their heart.
Lord Erskine of Rerrick was Governor of Northern Ireland
from 1964 to 1968 and was the only Presbyterian to hold this office.
By Bertie Emerson
There's asphalt now on my cobbled streets,
The rubber tyre replaces the horses feet:
But the wind still whispers through the trees,
If you care to listen, it's bound to please.
Natural beauty there's in plentious store,
From the garden gate to your own front door.
In this lunar-computer age of man,
They gave me no place in the Matthew Plan.
The Stormont planners passed me be,
I study the plan, and I wonder why.
Perhaps they think that I'm much too small,
Or, maybe, don't realise I exist at all.
When the Assembly Clock rings the mid-day hour,
You have hardly room to park your car;
There are one-way streets and yellow lines
And dozens and dozens of traffic signs;
KEEP LEFT � LOOK RIGHT � NO PARKING HERE,
Do not enter the BOX unless your exit is clear.
There are motor cars and limousines,
Electric cookers and washing machines;
Schools for girls and schools for boys,
Terrific displays of children's toys;
Well-dressed women in tailored suits;
Long-haired males in Beatle boots.
A shortie coat for the young man-about-town,
It's fur-lined suede, and it's probably brown.
The women go shopping in skirts and tights,
Some of those in slacks look ghastly sights.
Take a free gift � 3d off � advertisers' bluff,
You've got to pay if you want the stuff.
Now here's a treat for your wife and you,
Move your home, get one with a view,
Plus central heating of so many therms,
If you can't pay cash try our easy terms.
What! You can't face the bill, no need to moan,
Pop round to the bank for a personal loan.
They are mixing meal and baking bread,
Weaving cloth and making thread;
Demolishing slums and building homes,
Constructing roads, installing `phones,
Modernising the hospital, enlarging a school,
Choosing a site for a swimming pool.
A varied selection of outdoor sports,
With playing fields and tennis courts;
A cricket pitch and a bowling green,
And the best of golfers that ever were seen;
There are pigeon fanciers and football fans,
Lambeg drummers, accordion and kiltie bands.
The adults work and the children play,
And before you know it's the end of the day,
When the teenage youth, the fathers and sons,
Will return to their home where life begun,
To enjoy the food, the love and the care,
Lavished by mother on everyone there.
The Lisburn Herald published the above on 4th November
By W Pearson junior
The Twelfth Mom it was bright and clear,
There was balm in the scented air
With the strains of triumphant music
That would banish all your care.
The historic town of Lisburn
Saw once more an Orange throng
Swell within her streets and rural lanes
As the brethren marched along.
And the crowds that lined the streets that day
Were amazed at that vast array,
For never was a demonstration seen
As they beheld that day.
With banners shimmering in the breeze,
They marched beneath their fold,
In memory of King William �
Our deliverer so bold.
LOL One-Hundred-and-Eleven led the district,
As soldiers to the fray.
There never was a prouder lodge
Than they turned out that day.
The Lisburn Temperance Silver Band
Led them martially to the "field" �
A band of Protestant brethren
Whose hearts shall never yield.
We think of our absent Brethren who sleep in peace
With kindred ashes of the noble and the true.
Hearts that never failed their country �
Hearts that baseness never knew.
May they rest until the trumpet
Wakes the dead from earth and sea;
England shall not boast of braver sons,
Than they, who died to set her free.
By Thompson Crossey
As I stood on the hillside and watched your demise
My mind wondered back through the years.
To a time when people who lived `neath your roof,
Had worried but not many fears.
I remember the people who stood at the door
And watched everything that went on.
They would then talk about something special they'd seen
That was something they all had in common.
I remember the happenings that took place through the
The sunshine, the laughter, the joy.
The winters, the rain, the snow and the ice,
And the birth of a girl or a boy.
I remember the names of the people
Who lived side by side through the years.
People who shared what little they had,
Their food, their laughter, their tears.
The characters too, I will never forget.
For their antics and folklore will live
In some of the men and the boys now passed on
There was plenty of folklore to give.
The lassies too were a lively bunch.
They could run and skip and dance.
But along came some strangers as strangers do,
Then some girls were lost to romance.
There was Tissie and Rose, Lily and Nell
Madge, Maud and Harriet and Ria as well
They were all lovely lassies, all full of fun,
All proud of the place where their lives had begun.
When it came to good crack
One thing you would find
They could all hold their own,
The girls weren't behind.
The boys used to stand at the corner
They stood there day in and day out
The stories they told were both brave and bold,
And some were even quite stout.
Skittles was one of the games that they played,
They played at the cross of the roads.
When a Klexton horn blew the players all knew
It was time for the crowd to explode.
Sunday was special to some of the boys
But to church they never did go.
They headed up the road and into a shed,
And all sat down in a row.
They would bring out the cards that were well worn
And there, they'd play for hours at a time.
Until someone would shout `the peelers are here',
Then they'd all disappear down the line.
Bob Wilson would whistle a tune loud and clear
The sound could be heard o'er the land.
He played football as well and drummed the big drum,
He was also in Lisburn's pipe band.
There was Packy and Atchie, the Chit and the Chew
There was Davy McFarland, who everyone knew.
Sam Ginn was a big man as tough as could be,
When he offered to fight, the boys would all flee.
Of course there is always one person
In every village or town
Whose name will be always remembered
Because he's a man of renown.
Robert John Emerson is the man I recall
A man who could view the whole street.
He had done so for years, in fact all his life,
His shop was where people did meet.
They told him their stories of trouble and strife,
Of all the good happenings as well.
Although he heard things, that could cause concern,
Not a word did Rabbie John tell.
He was known for his poems, he penned through the
He was also a J.P. as well.
When Rabbie John died, his loss was great,
But his story I'm quite pleased to tell.
I could sit here for hours and mention the names,
Of all the good people who've gone.
I have mentioned a few, but others I knew
I will never forget even one.
In your demise, Old Grey Row
We will always remember your being.
We thank you for all the pleasures you've left,
And of course we were sad at your going.
So `Old Grey Row' or Hillside Terrace
As you were christened in later years,
Many who stood and watched your demise
Did so with eyes full of tears.
By Thompson Crossey
Come and take a walk with me
Those of you who will.
We'll start up here at McBride's old dam
And we'll dander down the hill.
We'll walk beneath the canopy
Where the beech and oak entwine,
Where rooks and crows have lived for years,
And bred right down the line.
We'll pay a visit to the glen
Where the boretree and the bluebell smell,
Where the sprick, the caddis and the leech
In the running river, all do dwell.
We'll stroll down past the blackstone well
With its water, crystal clear,
Used by the people of the village
For many a countless year.
We'll sit down in the silence
And we'll just look all around,
If silence can be golden,
Down here, there's not a sound.
We'll walk back up to the open road
And walk down past the mill,
We'll take a look at the lapping room
And Ogles Grove, that sits there still.
We'll stop beneath the ancient oak
Bent o'er and bare with age,
An oak that has heard and seen it all
If it could turn the page.
We'll talk a while and reminisce
Of all the things that've been,
We'll turn around and take a look
At all the thing's we've seen.
Oh really, what has happened?
Why is there so much light?
Why are the crows so silent?
Oh! What a sorry sight.
The old mill it has vanished,
The lapping room as well.
The glen is desecrated
But it's now too late to tell.
The ancient beech, the ancient oak,
The walnut and the lime,
All destroyed by greedy men,
Driven by the march of time.
Many questions should be asked,
But one comes straight to mind.
I'm sure the answer's somewhere,
Which I'm sure someone will find.
Who gave the man permission,
Whose permission others sought,
To desecrate an ancient glen
That evolution wrought?
THE CULCAVEY OAK
By Thompson Crossey
This is an ode about an old Oak tree
That has grown in the village for centuries, three
It was here before people, who came at a time
When houses were built of mud and lime.
Ancient Oak still growing in the fertile village soil
Since first you were a sapling, you've seen the natives toil
You've seen the land around you, turned by horse and plough
You've seen the Village born and grow, to where it is of now.
Beside the steam that fed your needs through life
The blacksmith built his shop and forge
For, without the blacksmith's strength and skill
All around, would have remained a gorge.
You've withstood the savage winters
And you have enjoyed the summer sun
You've added splendour to the site
Where you are the only one.
You've seen all kinds of vehicles
Horse drawn, Stem and Gas
Develop from the very first
Until now, when they are all en masse.
As you have breathed the fumes of Whiskey
Of vitrol and clard lime
Because within your realm
There was business of both kinds.
As generations came and went
Of them you were a part
As they walked beneath your boughs
You were quite close to their heart.
The changes you have seen through life
Have been wonderful and great
And people of the village dread
The date, you'll meet your fate.
You are leaning to the East now
From age and weakened root
But we trust, that strong winds from the West
Won't blow, and take you out.
But when you go, as we all know
And your body is destroyed
You're passing will end a chapter
And in your place there'll be a void.
THE KESH BRIDGE
By Oliver Porter
There is a bridge that spans a pleasant stream,
Where old men pause and ponder on life's theme;
And lovers clasp their hands, and kiss, and dream,
Upon this bridge.
There often I have watched the sun go down,
And darkness spread its broad'ning arms, to drown
The glory from behind the mountain brown,
Seen from this bridge.
And standing there in twilight's closing hour,
When ghost-like evening shadows softly lower,
My soul is calmed by nature's soothing power,
Upon this bridge.
There, looking down below full forty feet,
The waters mirror silver stars � a fleet
That makes it like a jewel-studded street,
Below this bridge.
The city has its charms, but this I know,
When I am most depressed by common woe,
And long for peace, I lift my heart and go
To this same bridge.
THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE
By Oliver Porter
Gladly some morn at the call of May
My heart shall be lured to roam
By the rose-rimmed, hawthorn-scented way,
And I shall be found at home;
There will I stand at the lone crossroads,
Where the blustering winds go by,
With the Irish rain upon my face,
Under an Irish sky.
And I shall watch at the sudden turn
Where the wee houses come in view,
The twists of smoke from the fires that burn
In the hearth that my childhood knew;
A slow-drawn blind and a welcome smile
That dispel the wind and rain;
The magnet that drew me across the earth �
Her face at the window pane.
By Oliver Porter
In yon lone churchyard by the town*
Where countrymen pass up and down,
He sleeps � the man I loved in life �
Called into silence from the strife.
The hills he loved are capped with gloom,
My hopes, once high, are in the tomb;
No more of pleasure, all things bear
A dreadful presage of despair.
O Life! O Time! From now henceforth
I am a wanderer on the earth;
Even from place to place I roam,
But no more find or seek a home.
A spar on life's broad river thrown,
With no fixed purpose of my own,
I glide along with destiny,
Until the river reach the sea.
Ah, then to prove man's hope, where there
I find him good and great and fair,
And learn that death was not defeat,
My heaven shall be a heaven complete.
* Hillsborough graveyard, County Down.
LINES WRITTEN NEAR EGLANTINE CHURCH
By Thomas Finn
I stood in a grove of beeches sheltering from the
At the top of an eight acre field newly stripped of grain.
At the bottom stands a sweet little church, it's ground so neatly kept;
And from where I stood the trees around it seemed as if they wept.
Although I had seen it many times before, I had
looked, and looked away;
For I never saw it so beautiful as I saw it that Sabbath day.
So when the rain had cleared away I took a dander down
Opened the gate very quietly and had a look around.
There were rhododendron bushes spread out beneath the
And in the newly cut grass stood some beautifully trimmed yews.
There's a lovely creeper on it's walls; it's roof is steep and tiled;
There's not a sweeter place on earth than this Church of Eglantine.
And here in this little Churchyard where many a heart
There stands three wooden crosses I had never seen before.
They marked a plot of ground where our Airmen found their rest.
The ground was red, being newly dug; their graves with flowers dressed.
And those who have never seen it you can take this
word of mine
There's not a sweeter place on earth
Than here at Eglantine.
OF THE FUTURE!
If it were left to the older generation to be the
masters of poetry, the art of putting the rhythm and flow of words
together would in time be lost. A quick perusal through Newport Primary
School Magazines for the years 1979 and 1980 might well provide the
(Jacqueline McQuillan, P.5)
Autumn has ended
And Winter has come,
The trees are all bare in the cold,
We'll look out the window,
To see what's about,
Then well go out and have some fun.
There's one that's not cold,
And he is bold,
Jack Frost he is,
You better watch out he'll chase you about,
He's after your fingers and toes.
(Lesley Spratt, P.6)
Old age is lonely,
Old age is wise,
Old age is full of thoughts,
Old age is to be young.
Old age is sad,
Old age is forgetful,
Old age is weak through the body.
Old age is toothless,
Old age is grey hairs,
Old age is lean,
Old age is pale,
Old age is staying with memories.
GLIDING THROUGH THE NIGHT
(Robert Finn, P.7)
My name is Nokomis,
I am an Indian boy,
I made a little canoe,
I made him not for toy,
I made him for a journey,
That I could never do,
I hope you think he'll do it,
For there are many dangers to go through,
Niagara Falls might smash him,
Or he might burn by forest fires,
But I can just see him,
Gliding through the night.
THE ANIMALS OF THE FARM
(Christy Davidson, P.4)
Sheep graze on rough pasture,
And roam on rock land,
As long as there is something to keep them in,
To save them from getting harmed.
Dairy cows need water,
And lots of food and grass,
Or else well have no milk to drink,
To pour into a glass.
Some farmers keep hens and chickens,
To lay us free-range eggs,
If he wants to keep them, they'll start oval,
And then with tiny legs.
BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE
(William Cromie, P.5)
There in the heather a cold figure lay,
With cold and wet fingers and nothing to say,
Watching and listening and looking around,
Suddenly he heard a clash of metal and a sound.
He was very cold and wet and very stiff,
But he knew not to move or even shift.
It was Bonnie Prince Charlie who was very brave,
And he thought a lot of his life which he wanted to save.
(Colin Edgar, P.7)
I'm free, free ever so free,
I can do anything just to please me.
I fly high and low,
To and fro,
And nobody tells me where to go.
I crash to the ground,
And fly round and round. I'm free, free, ever so free,
I can do anything just to please me.
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