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Brigid McCluskey. On the picturesque shore of Emy Lake, Emyvale, County Monaghan, stands a quaint Irish Cottage and it is there that Brigid McCluskey has spent all of her Ninety years. Family. Her father, William, worked the farm, worked on the roads, in the quarries, and drawing Indian Corn to Emy Mills and the meal back again to the Emyvale Road below Mullan for one penny a load. Her mother was Catherine, nee Maguire from Roslea, and there are many Maguire relations both in Roslea and in the North Monaghan area. Brigid had three brothers and three sisters: Patrick, Charlie and Tommy, Mary, Annie and Catherine. Schooling. There were about 60 pupils attending Killyrean National School with principal, Master Francis O’Hanlon when Brigid was there. Her favourite subject was English Composition and she loved writing her essays. She remembers one in particular which was on ‘The Past and the Future’ and an inspector from the Department visited the school on the day she completed it. He picked up her story and read her composition and then congratulated her on the standard of her work. He was particularly impressed with her knowledge of English as she quoted from Thomas Davis: ‘Think not of the past It cannot come back Face the dim and shadowy future, With a brave and manly heart.’ There was no Irish being taught in the schools at the time but Brigid was one of the many who attended night classes in the Irish Language held in Killyrean school two nights each week. The teacher was Michael McKenna, from Monaghan. She found it a difficult task to master and would have loved to be able to converse fluently in her native tongue. Work. In her teens she quit school to help out at home. There was never any scarcity of food as they grew their own needs. They reared turkeys and pigs for the market and were always able to sell some potatoes. This extra cash helped them purchase bits and pieces. Flax was also a crop to bring in some money but it was hard labour. They grew some corn as required. They would take a bag of corn to McCusker’s Mill at Cavancope and have it ground into oatmeal which they used for porridge and feeding animals. They churned the milk and made homemade butter. For firing they used baked turf – taken from Donagh Bog and sticks from Corrigan’s, when it became a sawmill. There was also a grocery shop at the Mill. Brigid remembers her father and brother working on the roads for the Council. They were paid seven pennies a perch for tabling the roads. When new roads were being made or existing roads repaired, a horse and cart brought a load of stones from the quarry (Hasletts of Killyrean) and tipped them along the side of the road. The men then broke the stones up using hammers and spread the resulting gravel. Clay from the ditches was mixed into the gravel to bind it. Brigid used to carry ‘the tea’ out to the men as they worked along the roads. Music. Her father was very fond of music and could play a couple of instruments. He was organist in St. Mary’s Church, Glennan, and Brigid sang in the choir. She learned to play the violin but only played it, as she says, to please herself. She loved listening to the gramophone and John McCormack was her big favourite, especially his rendering of ‘Bless This House’. She loved and sang Irish Ballads and Bridie Gallagher was another favourite singer. Larry Cunningham and Daniel O’Donnell feature high on her list too. Indeed she could listen to Irish music all day long as she was reared with it. She loves everything Irish but most of all she loves Ireland. She has never left its shores and never really wanted to. She has a great knowledge of its history and takes a keen interest in politics. Charlie was her darling and still is. Troubles. She can recount many stories relating to ‘the Troubles’ and can remember hardship suffered by many during those days. She recalls, with a grin, the night of celebrations that was held on Brown’s Loft when the Treaty was signed. ‘It went on late’. Jimmy Corrigan and her brother Tommy played the fiddles for the dancing and the merriment went on and on. Tommy was a noted musician and played on a number of occasions on Radio Eireann. Because of the music, the stories and the craic McCluskeys was a well-known ceiliing house and people came from far and near for a night’s entertainment. Eucharistic Congress. For the Eucharistic Congress Brigid went to Dublin in 1932. She headed for the ceremonies in the Phoenix Park and lo and behold the first person she met was Margaret Donnelly, whom she knew well but never expected to meet up like that. Emy Lake. Emy Lake is very important to Brigid, not just because of its beauty, its tranquillity and serenity, but also because of its memories. It was the source of the water to drive Corrigan’s Mill and Mullan Mills. Her brother Patrick was in charge of the Sluice Gate and each day he controlled the flow of water as necessary for the Mills. It was a great boon for the district to have the two Mills, which gave much needed employment. Then there was boating on the Lake and the fishing. Before the Inland Fisheries developed the Lake into a fly-fishing trout lake, it was full of perch and pike. Locals ate the pike which was lovely, if it was a fairly good one. ‘Dip it in boiling water to remove the skin and then fry it on a pan with plenty of butter’. There was a dancing deck on the lake shore just down in front of Brigid’s house and all the neighbours gathered here every Summer’s Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 6pm and danced to the music of Mrs. Murray on the melodian. Those were lovely Summer days – better than today’s. To add to the beauty around the lake, Brigid always has a blazing array of colour from the flowers she has planted along the roadside past her house. The house itself is kept in immaculate condition, thanks to Pat and Willie, her nephews, who live with her. They have retained as much of the traditional cottage as possible and it is one of the few occupied houses in the country using the open-heart fire grate. As her favourite song says –‘Bless This House’, that is our wish for you, Brigid, and we pray that your health and alert mind stay with you for years to come, and that we can hear more of your memories in the not too distant future. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer
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Brigid McCluskey. On the picturesque shore of Emy Lake, Emyvale, County Monaghan, stands a quaint Irish Cottage and it is there that Brigid McCluskey has spent all of her Ninety years. Family. Her father, William, worked the farm, worked on the roads, in the quarries, and drawing Indian Corn to Emy Mills and the meal back again to the Emyvale Road below Mullan for one penny a load. Her mother was Catherine, nee Maguire from Roslea, and there are many Maguire relations both in Roslea and in the North Monaghan area. Brigid had three brothers and three sisters: Patrick, Charlie and Tommy, Mary, Annie and Catherine. Schooling. There were about 60 pupils attending Killyrean National School with principal, Master Francis O’Hanlon when Brigid was there. Her favourite subject was English Composition and she loved writing her essays. She remembers one in particular which was on ‘The Past and the Future’ and an inspector from the Department visited the school on the day she completed it. He picked up her story and read her composition and then congratulated her on the standard of her work. He was particularly impressed with her knowledge of English as she quoted from Thomas Davis: ‘Think not of the past It cannot come back Face the dim and shadowy future, With a brave and manly heart.’ There was no Irish being taught in the schools at the time but Brigid was one of the many who attended night classes in the Irish Language held in Killyrean school two nights each week. The teacher was Michael McKenna, from Monaghan. She found it a difficult task to master and would have loved to be able to converse fluently in her native tongue. Work. In her teens she quit school to help out at home. There was never any scarcity of food as they grew their own needs. They reared turkeys and pigs for the market and were always able to sell some potatoes. This extra cash helped them purchase bits and pieces. Flax was also a crop to bring in some money but it was hard labour. They grew some corn as required. They would take a bag of corn to McCusker’s Mill at Cavancope and have it ground into oatmeal which they used for porridge and feeding animals. They churned the milk and made homemade butter. For firing they used baked turf – taken from Donagh Bog and sticks from Corrigan’s, when it became a sawmill. There was also a grocery shop at the Mill. Brigid remembers her father and brother working on the roads for the Council. They were paid seven pennies a perch for tabling the roads. When new roads were being made or existing roads repaired, a horse and cart brought a load of stones from the quarry (Hasletts of Killyrean) and tipped them along the side of the road. The men then broke the stones up using hammers and spread the resulting gravel. Clay from the ditches was mixed into the gravel to bind it. Brigid used to carry ‘the tea’ out to the men as they worked along the roads. Music. Her father was very fond of music and could play a couple of instruments. He was organist in St. Mary’s Church, Glennan, and Brigid sang in the choir. She learned to play the violin but only played it, as she says, to please herself. She loved listening to the gramophone and John McCormack was her big favourite, especially his rendering of ‘Bless This House’. She loved and sang Irish Ballads and Bridie Gallagher was another favourite singer. Larry Cunningham and Daniel O’Donnell feature high on her list too. Indeed she could listen to Irish music all day long as she was reared with it. She loves everything Irish but most of all she loves Ireland. She has never left its shores and never really wanted to. She has a great knowledge of its history and takes a keen interest in politics. Charlie was her darling and still is. Troubles. She can recount many stories relating to ‘the Troubles’ and can remember hardship suffered by many during those days. She recalls, with a grin, the night of celebrations that was held on Brown’s Loft when the Treaty was signed. ‘It went on late’. Jimmy Corrigan and her brother Tommy played the fiddles for the dancing and the merriment went on and on. Tommy was a noted musician and played on a number of occasions on Radio Eireann. Because of the music, the stories and the craic McCluskeys was a well-known ceiliing house and people came from far and near for a night’s entertainment. Eucharistic Congress. For the Eucharistic Congress Brigid went to Dublin in 1932. She headed for the ceremonies in the Phoenix Park and lo and behold the first person she met was Margaret Donnelly, whom she knew well but never expected to meet up like that. Emy Lake. Emy Lake is very important to Brigid, not just because of its beauty, its tranquillity and serenity, but also because of its memories. It was the source of the water to drive Corrigan’s Mill and Mullan Mills. Her brother Patrick was in charge of the Sluice Gate and each day he controlled the flow of water as necessary for the Mills. It was a great boon for the district to have the two Mills, which gave much needed employment. Then there was boating on the Lake and the fishing. Before the Inland Fisheries developed the Lake into a fly-fishing trout lake, it was full of perch and pike. Locals ate the pike which was lovely, if it was a fairly good one. ‘Dip it in boiling water to remove the skin and then fry it on a pan with plenty of butter’. There was a dancing deck on the lake shore just down in front of Brigid’s house and all the neighbours gathered here every Summer’s Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 6pm and danced to the music of Mrs. Murray on the melodian. Those were lovely Summer days – better than today’s. To add to the beauty around the lake, Brigid always has a blazing array of colour from the flowers she has planted along the roadside past her house. The house itself is kept in immaculate condition, thanks to Pat and Willie, her nephews, who live with her. They have retained as much of the traditional cottage as possible and it is one of the few occupied houses in the country using the open-heart fire grate. As her favourite song says –‘Bless This House’, that is our wish for you, Brigid, and we pray that your health and alert mind stay with you for years to come, and that we can hear more of your memories in the not too distant future. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer