Ballymena farmers enjoying tea break in hay field

I put ‘Ballymena’ in the title, because google is probably fed up seeing ‘Portglenone’ in so many of my titles!  Ballymena would be the nearest large regional town, about 13 miles away. Magherafelt is of similar distance.

Here’s an old family photograph from the summer of 1962.

The Mulhollands, along with Hughie Henry and Alfie Brown, are taking a tea break from making hay. The location of the field isn’t clear, although it is probably at the home farm in Eden, near Portglenone.

ballymena farming
Summer 1962, tea break for farmers in a hay field, near Ballymena


Ok, the names.  Mum had religiously written every name below each of these scrapbook photos. Her writing, in blue biro, looks so fresh.  It could have been written just yesterday. Instead, she probably archived these photos 40 plus years ago, in the 1970s or early 1980s. She passed in 1987.

Left hand side, front to back, Hughie Henry at the front, Richard Mulholland (my father) is in the centre, Tommy Mulholland (Thompson) at the very back.

From left to right. The man behind the white food holder is Willie Mulholland, beside him, Stanley Mulholland. Willie is Tommy’s younger brother.  Stanley is Tommy’s youngest son.

On the right hand side, Alfie Brown’s face is hidden, because he is codding around with his cap.  Eleanor Quinn (my mother is behind him).

My parents had been married for a year – they had married in Moneymore the previous summer, 24th June 1961.

There was a second photo, taken a few seconds after the main one.  It is a tad blurry, but it does show Alfie Brown’s face this time (mum had playfully wrestled the cap away that had been covering his face).

Tea break in the hay field


What would things have cost back then. Well, let’s see. 

Groceries: a loaf of sliced bread was 5 pence, one kilo of sugar was 7 pence, a pint of milk was 14 pence, 250g of butter was 9 pence, 2.5 kilos of potatoes was 8 pence. The Mulhollands, like their neighbours, got their milk from their own cows, cured their own bacon from their own pigs, and grew their own potatoes, lettuce, scallions, and even had honey from a bee-hive in their garden.

The average car in 1962 cost about 820 pounds. The price of a litre of petrol was 5 pence.

The average price of a house was about 2,500 pounds.

The average salary was 633 pounds.

“MAKING HAY. . .  In Yorkshire, Irish haymakers are asking for £10 a week, plus food and lodging.”
London Star, July 1950


Local folk tended to not talk much about faraway things.  But that summer, events of note in the news included:

1st July – Algeria votes for independence from France.

6th July – Wimbledon Men’s Tennis: Rod Laver wins at Wimbledon, easily beating fellow Australian Martin Mulligan in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, for the 3rd leg of his first Grand Slam.

11th July – 1st transatlantic TV transmission via satellite occurs.

Also during July, an agreement was reached during a secret meeting between Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, to construct a number of missile launch sites on the island later that summer. By October, there was a scary stand-off with America.

4th August – Marilyn Monroe found dead in bed.

21st August – Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower arrives in Belfast on a four-day visit to Ireland.




"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

3 thoughts on “Ballymena farmers enjoying tea break in hay field

    1. Delighted to hear that you enjoyed seeing the photos of your grandfather, Peter. Are you Willie’s son?

      Alfie is also on another of mum’s photos at:

      Plus, while recently looking through mum’s archive, I rediscovered another photo of Alfie. It was from 1974, taken in our house. It wasn’t in great shape. I cleaned it up in photoshop, over a couple of nights in September, with the intention of publishing sometime before Christmas.

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