Apologies, I have not been posting much in recent months. I have not been writing anything at all. But the creativity is still there, and I have been working in the evenings, on enhancing a lot of old photos, for future publication.
I trust that you are all keeping well and managing to somehow navigate this mad world.
By the way, thank you for the emails. They make it all worthwhile.
We all, as individuals and families, have our trials and tribulations. Nobody escapes unscathed. Sitting here this evening, I cannot help but reflect back to this same night 35 years ago, Thursday 3rd September 1987. The news came through from Spain, that mum had been killed while crossing the street. She had been on holiday, in Fuengirola (on the Costa Del Sol) with her best friend, a fellow nurse from Antrim, Mary Dornan.
The news, delivered by Brian Quinn (Wild Duck hotel owner at the time, from Portglenone) along with another family friend, came around 11pm. It was five years, to the month, since dad’s car accident. It was devastating news. Crushing. She was 48 years old.
Septembers are always very difficult.
But where does the time go to. Uncle Stanley used to often reflect, every summer when we cut silage and baled hay, on how quickly his life had flown. And it’s true. We are only here, but for a short time.
Time is our greatest resource.
With time, there are always possibilities and opportunities.
Ok, in October last year, Adrian and Adeline Cherry very kindly sent me a couple of lovely 1960s photos, taken in our yard. Thank you so much!
Adeline is Alfie Brown’s daughter and lived in Eden, a mile up the road from our farmhouse. Two of the images were taken in our yard. Given that it was sunny, and I was walking, the photos were probably taken around mid 1966.
These ‘new’ photos got me thinking of that era, and the building of our house.
I had a perusal through the albums of material that mum kept. It was a delight to discover that she had retained the receipts (from November 1964) for the building materials, from local supplier Teady McErlean of Clady.
On the day I was born, in November 1964, my father was digging the foundations for our bungalow in Dreenan. His brother Stanley was helping him. Wallace Bruce and Sammy Haw, the builders, were also there.
The news came through of the birth, from the Waveney Hospital, some 13 miles away in Ballymena, and all were delighted. Stanley gave his brother fifty pence.
Mum and dad would have been so happy, their first child born that day (and ultimately only), as well as the start of the construction of their first ever house.
It was a moment in time and the start of a major new chapter in my parents’ lives. They had married in the summer of 1961 and, since then, had been living at dad’s parents’ house, in Eden. That house, on a hill, was visible across the fields. It was less than a mile away.
My father had three siblings, Charlotte, Samuel and Stanley. Despite being the oldest male, the homestead was being left to the youngest. Stanley was the apple of his mother’s eye. Although dad had put a lot of work into Eden, at 35 years old, with the building of the bungalow in Dreenan, he was moving out to start afresh.
A lot of work lay ahead, across the next ten years, building the bungalow, building the silo, the lean-to, and the large modern cage-house, the new byre, renovating and plastering outhouses, concreting the yard, plus many other things. After the bungalow was built, he did the majority of the work himself. I often wonder how he managed it.
Sadly, there are no photos, that I am aware of, of the build in Dreenan. But the construction took place from mid-November 1964, until the summer of 1965.
Back in that era, there was no easy credit available. Thus, you finished decorating and furnishing a room, as and when you could afford it. The spare room (as it was known) never got carpeted, nor saw wallpaper and furniture, until 1979. It ultimately became the biggest bedroom in the house.
The Music of late 1964
So what songs would my parents have been listening to on the radio at this time.
During October and early November, the big hit in the local charts was Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman.’ The song spent a total three weeks at number one. Sandie Shaw’s ‘There’s Always Something There to Remind Me’ reached the pinnacle by late October. By mid November, the Supremes were number one with ‘Baby Love.’ In early December, the Beatles reached number one with ‘I Feel Fine.’ It stayed on the top spot for five weeks.
Not a bad set of songs to introduce Trudger to the world!
Builders, Wallace Bruce and Sammy Haw
The overall house construction was completed rather quickly. My parents always spoke very fondly of the builders Wallace Bruce and Sammy Haw. Those same two builders also went on to renovate the Mulholland family home at Eden, five or six years later. I was just about old enough, to have some sparse memories of this Eden renovation era. A key memory, as a child, is being amazed at the gear change handle, that came out horizontally from the steering column, on the builder’s car.
If I am not mistaken, and my memory is not precise, the total construction cost of our house in Dreenan, was between 1100 and 1200 pounds, i.e. materials and labour. Dad would mention the cost a few times over the years. He would quote a precise figure, like 1120 pounds. But my memory is not great.
Teady McErlean, Clady
On looking across local Ulster newspapers, Teady advertised on ten different occasions in 1964. All ten adverts appeared in the Belfast Telegraph, one advert was in late August, six were in September and three appeared in early October.
Presumably this indicated that autumn was a slower period in the rural construction industry.
Here is one of those advertisements. It is interesting reading about the type of things on sale in that era, along with the prices.
Belfast Telegraph, Thursday 1st, Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd October, 1964