Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Douglas Bridge long ago by Collette Molloy

Let me introduce myself. My name is Collette Molloy. I am a present member of the Strabane and District Caring Services. I am married to John. We have six grown up children and six grandchildren. Prior to this I was Collette Bonner, the second youngest of nine children. Born to Bridget and John Bonner. Our family home was on Knockmillar Road, Douglas Bridge, Strabane.

My childhood memories are of endless happy days, spent playing with family members - four sisters and four brothers. There would also be chores to carry out. These included feeding poultry and fetching water from the well, running into the village of Douglas for messages from the local shops. One of the shops was owned by Johnny McNamee, the other by Alan McDowell, who also ran the post office.

School was also to feature in my weekly diary. My brothers and sisters would take me to the old school situated on the Ardstraw Road outside of Victoria Bridge. I then moved to the new school which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this month (September 2010). The journey to school seemed like an eternity for a five year old as there were no school buses in those days. The only mode of transport was 'Shanks Mare' as the old saying went. To those who do not comprehend this statement, the answer is 'walk'.

I grew up in a rural farming community, my father was a farm labourer who was employed by the local farmers. His duties included planting crops of wheat, corn and potatoes, feeding animals, tending the threshing mill etc. In the summer evenings he would cut turf, sow potatoes and veg and cut blocks of wood so that our family was well provided for. He was a hard working man who always put his family first. In the evenings neighbors would call around as our home was a ceili house where everyone was welcome. Names that spring to mind were Sammy Glenn and his brother Willie. The McDaid brothers who were uncles of my dads. Cards and darts would be played and even a good old ghost story would be told. My mother was the provider of food and drink, home made scones and big mugs of tea. She made everyone happy.

The visitors would say goodnight, the fire was doused, lights from the gas lamp turned off and the doors locked. These are some of the beautiful memories I have from long ago. Sadly the voices of my mother and father are silent now, as well as my brothers like most of those who have come and went to our little home. They have passed on to their eternal reward but the sweet memories of that by-gone age remain in my heart.

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