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Sean Reilly publishes Article about life on Goladuff & Galoon

 

 Sean Reilly

Photo:Courtesy of Sean Reilly

Sean Reilly who was born in the home of Alice Tinneny on Goladuff in 1944 published an account of growing up in and around Goladuff and Galoon.  His experience was shared by the Goladuff Tinnenys of his generation.  The article was published in the magazine Ireland’s Eye, February 2004 Edition and is included here with his permission.

To School by Boat

I remember going to school by boat. We lived in a remote area in Co. Fermanagh near the border with Co. Cavan on a farm on the shores of Lough Erne. Before the building of Galloon Bridge in 1926 we would have been an island community. Our farm was not linked to a road; we were about a mile and a half from the nearest road walking through the fields or half a mile across the “Lough”. The Lough was our highway or road and the boat our principle mode of transport. There were many advantages by going by boat, it was certainly faster and weight was not a factor once the cargo was aboard. Before the Lough Erne drainage scheme was implemented many farms including our own was prone to flooding. We lost about 10 acres under water from November to April each year.

Our boat would have difficulty in traversing the shallow flood water; it was then that the Fermanagh Cott came in to its own. For those not familiar with this type of craft it was basically an oblong flat-bottomed craft with no keel allowing it to travel in shallow water and was rowed with very long oars for better leverage obliging the oarsman to row or “pull the Cott” with crossed arms, an acquired technique. There were three sizes of Cott, the most popular and the one most us families used was the “Wee Cott” capable of performing most domestic chores relating to the small farm including ferrying us kids to school. Some larger farms made use of a slightly larger Cott this craft was known as “A lump of a Cott” capable of transporting a few young calves enclosed in a “Rail” around to prevent any unfortunate animal for going for an unpredicted swim. The largest Cott and the only one I knew about at that time was the “Big Cott” which was housed at Crom Castle we called it the “Crom Cott” and was used by the workers on Crom Estate to transport larger cattle to their outlying farms. Our Cott was prominently a winter craft performing a wide range of duties ranging from taking the daily milk churns across to the creamery stand, transporting meal rations for the animals; the hens to which I seem to remember we had quite a lot of required their special brand of meal. Egg production was a vital part of the farm income at that time. Everyone had a role to play and chores to do, from parents to the youngest member of the family.   Egg collecting being one of my after school chores, cracked ones were used in the home made soda bread cakes. I think we were reared on these; a shop bought loaf was a treat in those bygone days.

Saturday was my favourite day of the week not because we were off school (as I happened to like school and my teacher, but that’s another story) but we got to go to town on a shopping trip. This necessitated downing on our Sunday clothes and Wellingtons, tying out shoes around our necks and carefully making our way to the Lough shore into the Cott and across to “Darlins landing” where we carefully (under pain of being left there if we got dirty) made our way up to the lane which after half a mile or so walking we arrived at the tarmac road where we had our hiding place, there we placed our Wellingtons and changed into our shoes. My father and mother had bicycles which were kept in “Rehills barn” but by the time they bicycles wheels were pumped and the bikes cleaned after Rehills hens, which seemed to take delight in using they handlebars as convenient perches, we had walked  more than halfway to town. We took delight in being able to name all the houses and lanes leading to off road farms on our way to town, if we by chance were to meet someone we were careful not to speak first, be seen and not heard was one of the lessons we were taught. Cars were few and far between in the early 50`s and we knew the sound of each vehicle long before it came into view.

Treats in those days was usually a tupanny (two penny) bag of sweets in the winter or an ice-cream in the summer which I remember as being made in the shop and was always lumpy but delicious and well worth the trip. Looking at the shop windows and seeing all the delights which we could never afford was high on the chatting list at school the following week, from Davie Crockets hat to Bowie’s knife to Hopalong Cassidy’s six shooters. I am sure the girls had there favourite dolls to talk about as well.

Our needs were simple because we knew no better, we were in harmony with nature because we had to be, we had respect for everybody and their property because we were taught so, but most of all despite all of our hard ship we were happy.

Sean Reilly, Killarney, Co. Kerry

seanreilly2@eircom.net

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