"No Better Place To Live"
I was born 90 years ago on the 20 th February 1931 and delivered by a midwife, whose name I can’t remember in a surgery where Dr Lee’s house is now in Tullamore. It was different back then no fancy hospitals. I was the 2nd eldest
of 9 children, my sister Betty being the older one, 4 boys and 5 girls and lived just outside Killeigh Village.
Walking back and fro to school from Derrybeg to Killeigh, at that time the school was where Spollen’s house is now just across from the new School. Bare feet in the Summer and shoes on our feet in the Winter months but everyone was the same so we never took heed. I remember one day going to school with my sister Betty and she found a shilling on the road near Elliotts house, we couldn’t believe our luck, off we headed to Buckley’s shop (now Gorman’s) and handed in the shilling to buys some sweets. Mrs Buckley the shopkeeper at the time was not impressed she gave us 1p’s worth of sweets and put the change in a brown envelope with my Mother’s name on, it would be given to her the next time she was to call. I suppose she didn’t believe us when we told her we found it on the road on our way to school.
I stayed in school until I was 14 years old but due to my Father always being in bad health, I looked after the farm, and also worked part time in Condron Concrete. Ned my younger brother then came on board to give me a hand which we worked well together sharing the load. Ned then decided to go to England and I was back doing the job of 2 which was difficult.
I done this for a few years and then one night I went to a dance up in the hall at Gurteen Bridge (no longer there) and met a young las called Essie Young from Clonaslee. We courted as they say for a while and then we both decided to head off over to England before we would settle down and get married and have a family. We went over to my brother Ned who was in Blackburn at the time. We stayed there for a while and then headed down to London and got a better job that was better paid £9.50 per week doing painting, sure it was great money back then. Essie got a job in Walls Food Factory. One evening a knock came to the door and who was it only Jimmy Fogarty from Killurn, wanting me to join the GAA club in New Eltham. It was a bit of a track every Sunday morning from Harston, 2 hours or so on a bus but they were great times and I have great memories of playing hurling and football and meeting some of the boys from home. I never worried about getting around London but could never get around Dublin I’d always get lost.
We both returned back home as we had never planned to stay anyway and got married in 1962 in Clonaslee and will be 59 years married this year. We were very fortunate at the time when looking for a place to live that is now our home for the past 59 years in Killeigh village. This house originally owned by Mrs Allen came up for sale just after we were married and I purchased it back then for £520 and we are living here ever since. I was lucky enough to get my job back in Condron Concrete and made long- time friends there over the years.
Both me and Essie were blessed with 4 sons, Ray, Brian, Philip & Aidan and count ourselves very lucky to have settled in the village with good friends and neighbours down through the years, there is no other place I would rather be.
I love all village life but my true love was the Gaa, playing for many years under the “Black and Amber” of Killeigh with fine men from Killurn as team mates. Clodiagh Gaels takes bit of getting use too but we have to go with the times with some fine players now wearing the jersey for their parish and long may it continue. Many a match I watched in Killeigh but the local derbys were always the best. Everything was left on the pitch and after a pint or 2 consumed in Coughlan’s (later Doyles and now Grennans on the Green) where most often every puck or every kick was played out again.
Throughout my years I have been involved with many things in the village, tidy towns, the GAA, the Killeigh Golf Society and the Old Macra hall to name a few. We had great times especially the Carnival days trying to raise money to build the Macra hall. I remember the night my Father died and was going to the church, it was a terrible evening of wind and the rain, and as we passed by the Carnival on the way to the church, the marque was on the ground so that was the end of that. Many a fine band played in it and many a marriage started there, so hopefully things will come again with the new hall.
In these testing times there is no better place to live in than the village of Killeigh. We miss stepping across the road to daily mass and the chat afterwards, but we still get mass every day on the television. Faith has always been important throughout my life and now is no different. Both myself and Essie want for nothing and there is always a neighbour or friend calling to help us and do what’s needed, for that we are truly blessed.