A Journey Across Years
By Tom Mongan
As the title suggests, this story takes us on a journey back in time to pre-electricity days in Connemara. As children, we heard the song ‘The Moon behind the Hill’ and we could look out the window to see it shining down just across the bay at Derryinver over Diamond Hill, Letterfrack.
If the song was ‘When the Golden Sun sinks in the West’ we would see it settling down for the night behind Letter Hill which is also called Tully mountain.
If it was a dark winters night with the wind howling outside, we might hear the crickets sing their song in the chimney breast, or listen to a neighbour tell a ghost story about the haunted house just a little bit over the road or the one about the wicked witch behind the bush back the road….but cosy and all is it was sitting down at a big turf fire on a winter’s night the time comes when you must get out onto the real road of life.
The road of life for many at the time was the boat trip to England or America. Some of us stayed in Ireland and worked at whatever job came our way. Most of rural Ireland had no factories, or any well paid permanent jobs to offer.
The Electricity Supply Board had in the late fifties brought electricity to our homes and this had given some local work putting up the poles and cables, and wiring houses but the excitement of seeing numbers of people working around the area was short lived and got back to its routine way again with a few men working on the roads, and a few more on what was called ‘the drainage scheme’ when landowners got their land drained.
Then the Government decided to invest in forestry.They planned to buy up mainly poor mountain land plant around twenty to twenty five thousand acres a year and give local employment nationwide, in some areas like Tuam, Mallow, Carlow and Thurles. There were sugarbeet factories and the local farmers grew the beet and got work in the factories as well.
Then there was the money got for selling a few cattle at the local fairs which meant walking the cattle out to the nearest village/town that had a monthly fair. Most places had no park or field to keep the cattle in for the fair day, so the cattle and their waste were right outside houses and shops for a day every month. You could say that the word hygiene was unknown and because of our close contact with nature we had developed an immunity to everything.
This book takes us on a journey from the mid-1940s after the second World War to more recent times. We hope you will come with us on the journey and enjoy (if that is the word) its ups and downs.