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GROWING UP IN QUIVVY   

By

Fidelma Tinneny

If you haven't been to Quivvy, - you must visit!  It's 4 miles outside of Belturbet, and the best place in the whole wide world!!  (Mind you, I never thought I'd say that when I was sixteen!)   It's beautiful scenery is breathtaking from the minute you see Quivvy bridge as you come over the hill, - serene and tranquil.  

 

I lived there with my parents, three sisters and younger brother until I was 17.  I live in England now, but return to Quivvy approximately six times a year.  It still is and always will be home.  Never a day goes by that I don't miss it's peace.  

 

Fidelma Tinneny Tanner. 

Photo courtesy of Richard Tinneny.

 

Comparing the restricted lives of children in England to my own youth, - we had a lot to be thankful for.  My parents great fear was of us going alone to the river or lake, but we could wonder freely and safely.  We lived in fear of the dreaded " water horse" at the bridge.  We were banned at playing at this area because it was/is so dangerous.  Until I was about 16, I really believed the water horse would get us if we went there; Many a day I said the Rosary from Mrs. Bell's black gate until I got to our land, afraid of the water horse and what would be said when I got home for being late!

 

The school bus - mini bus - picked us up each morning at Mrs. Bell's at 8:05.  We used Mrs. Bell's stick shed as a shelter.  Mrs. Wilson drove us daily, and sometimes her husband Johnny.  I always thought Mrs. Wilson was very cross, but she wasn't really.  She looked after us well, ensuring we wore our caps, had our coats buttoned up, and crossed the road safely.

 

Our school days were very long, and we didn't get home until 4:30pm.  At one stage there was no school bus, and we had to cycle to school on the bad road in the snow and the rain. We usually had a packed lunch at school (sometimes we went to our aunt's shop).  The town children would swap their loaf bread for our homemade bread and jam.  The nuns used to give us bread and jam sandwiches in the evening time.

 

Loaf bread was a big treat when we were small.  So was cake from the shop!  There was always a big bag of flour by the fire in our house, and Mammy made bread nearly every day.  On a Thursday Miley Burke would drive his blue van down our way, (he had a mobile shop).  Granddad Tinneny lived with us then.  He would send us to buy two packets of silver mints, and we were usually allowed to keep the change - 2p.  It meant a lot to us then!  Mammy sometimes bought loaf bread, and snowballs as a big treat.  Soda bread and homemade cake is a big treat for me now!

 

We grew most of our own vegetables and had our own hens and cows for eggs and milk.  John Grogan used to plough the potato field every year with Daddy - this was as big a day as haymaking.  We had to help sew the spuds - that was OK, but digging them once they were grown was hateful!  It wouldn't be too bad if it wasn't raining and always so cold!

 

In the summertime we took the boat out on the river, this was great fun.  We could go to Derravona (Mammy's home place), over to Gola, Crom Castle, into town or even to Enniskillin if we needed to.  At secondary school in Belturbet I learned to water-ski and other water sports; it was only then that I began to appreciate the value of living so close to the water.  We could swim in the front lough (Killylea lake), this was so big some of the town children used to think it was the sea!

 

In the winter if the pipes froze, we had to break the ice at the river and carry the water back to the house for us.  I remember when we had the running water put in, and it was only recently when we were still boiling water in saucepans to use for bathing.

 

Because we lived so far from town, it was hard for us to get everywhere.  We cycled to band and dance practice when we got older, Mammy took us when we were younger.  In the winter there was Scor, Readoiri, choir, music, band and dancing - as well as school!  Daddy used to say we never stopped "running"!  I always got a bad chest when I was small, and Mammy would put buttered brown paper and Vicks on my under vest.  This was very embarrassing when I was in competition!  I recall one day when I was reciting " Ah no Jimmy ah no" at Scor.  I lost my voice the afternoon before the competition.  Mammy sent me to bed to rest, and downstairs I could hear my sister Aisling imitating me reciting.  It was hilarious to all she was performing for - but not for me!  After I had shouted a bit she continued to mimic my hoarse voice, and later made me a bottle of "cop on" as a remedy for my tantrum!

 

We often weren't allowed to go to the discos and such as the town kids were, as we would have to get a lift home or have Mammy or Daddy pick us up.  This caused many a row in adolescents - it still does!  Our boyfriends now dislike the long drive to Quivvy late at night; although they love the tranquillity of life there.

 

There was great advantage to living in the countryside at national school. - we found birds nests, and their eggs, acorns, leaves for the nature table.  We knew most of the birds, and had seen them, all the trees, and were familiar with the ways of nature. We had lots of open fields and trees to play and hide in, and when any friends or relatives came to stay, we could take them out in the boat, or down to Clifford's or the orchard to pick apples.  There were disadvantages too, - we had to go to bed early because of our early school start; we hardly ever saw any other children - apart from at school -, because there weren't any, and we rarely got sweets! - apart from when we delivered the Messengers for Sister Finbar.  All the neighbors gave us sweets or cake if they had any.

 

Clifford Barber was an old man with a funny hat.  He would visit us every week and bring us a wagon wheel each.  Tom Tummin also visited, he brought a big bag of sweets also!  Daddy sometimes brought a lollipop home from work, this was the biggest treat of all because we weren't expecting it!

 

Auntie Kathleen and Uncle Aiden lived next door.  We sometimes got a lift to town with them during school holidays - if we were allowed!  Uncle Aiden was great for telling stories of the area, and helped us with many a school project.

 

The hunt often took place down our way, - sometimes we seldom see now.  This was very exciting, with lots of hounds barking and running; Sometimes we caught a glimpse of the ox!

 

Visitors to Quivvy were always a novelty - Even the postman!  On a Sunday afternoon when the church bells rang at Quivvy church, my sisters and I often found an excuse to go for a walk to see who might be around!  The church is no longer in use as such now.

 

When I was very young there was a white fungus growing at the side of the church in the shape of a witches hat.  I let my imagination run wild and convinced myself there was a witch there, so I ran like mad past the church on my way home from school for fear the witch might come to life!  Over the church door was/is a swarm of bees in the summertime.  I used to run past this for fear of getting stung!  Some of the town boys used to think it was funny to throw stones at the bees; - they didn't afterwards!!

 

Mr. Cole kept cattle on his land in Quivvy.  We used to think they were bulls because they weren't as tame as our cattle.  Many a day we thought they chased us on our way home from school or stealing apples, but it wasn't us they were after it was the dogs;  But they put the fear of God in us!

 

I learned to walk, talk, run, play, write, drive and live in Quivvy.  I'm twenty four years old now and I hope that if someday I have children I can bring them up in a similar environment.  It is not until you leave the peace and beauty behind that you appreciate it fully.

 

So Thank You Quivvy, and thank you Mammy and Daddy, and all the people who made my youth so wonderful, and still do.  You are not forgotten, and are always in my heart - Anseo i Lar an Ghleanna. 

  Fidelma Tinneny  March 1995

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