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Ellie Meehan Ellie Agnes Meehan was born on the July 5th 1899 in Derrynarget, beside Drumbriston, Carrickroe, Co. Monaghan. She now resides with her niece Peggy McCarron in Killydrean. Her health, her memory and her cheerful disposition belies the fact of her 94 years of age. Her mother, Mary, nee McMeel, was from Corraghbrack and was related to Fr. Pat McMeel R.I.P. who ministered in Eskra, Co. Tyrone. Her father was John Meehan from Mullaghmore, Clara. He was a school teacher for forty years and served in schools in Caledon, Aughnacloy and Bragan, but for the best part of his years he was Principal of Carrickroe NS. Ellie had two brothers – James and Packie and a sister, Minnie Rose. Farming. John was a strict man in school and a very good teacher. He treated his own children no differently from the others and, when it came to homework, he made sure it was done. He had land and so there was always plenty of work to be done there and the children, including Ellie, had to help out. They tilled the land and had potatoes, corn, flax and vegetables. At mowing time her father ‘held the rod’ for the cutter and the children tied. Jimmy McKenna was a great man with the scythe and so too was Fr. George McCarron R.I.P. The flax crop was a very difficult time and many hours of hard work and slavery was involved. The digging of the spuds was another busy time and Ellie remembers her father with a big number of people helping to gather the spuds. But that was the system then – children and adults would work days for the neighbour who in turn would pay it back in kind. There was many a man who gave a day here and gave a day there and never got it back. Ceili House. The Meehan house was always a great gathering place especially during the dark winter evenings. As a teacher, John, was in demand for advice, for help in filling out forms and giving character references. He was a noted card player – an expert at “45” and once darkness fell, neighbours arrived at Meehan’s. John would read the day’s news to them from the paper and then the cards would keep the craic going till ‘bedtime’ – whatever time that might be. Indeed some of the visitors were more interested in playing cards than hearing the news. During the games, the mother or Ellie would make the tea and bread for everyone present. All the time, yarns and stories were being told - some true, some so far-fetched that they couldn’t be true – and some that may or may not be true, but a good story nonetheless. James Owenie George McMeel and his brother were great story-tellers. What’s Cooking. At National School, John Meehan saw to it that the three R’s were taught but had many other subjects on the curriculum. This included cookery. As well as two grates to heat the school, he had a range installed for the cookery classes and a cookery teacher was brought in on a regular basis to give lessons and demonstrations. John bought coal for the fires and one day the cookery teacher was trying to get the range going but it was smoking so badly that they had to open all the windows and doors and who should arrive in but the School Inspector. In his report for the Department, a copy of which he left behind, stated - ‘the cooker smoked a little’. Drama. Social life in the area centred around the school where dances and concerts were held – mainly to raise money for the parish, especially when they were building the priest’s house. Mrs McCaffrey of the Post Office gave the site for the house free of charge and this was a great start. Two priests, who were in Carrickroe, were very fond of drama and organised drama productions, which were always looked forward to. They were Dr. Duffy and Fr. George McCarron, and the atmosphere during rehearsals and the fun of doing it was well worth the work. There were many great performers involved in ‘The Plays’, people like Peter Treanor, Parick and Genie Flood, Willie Skinnader, Frank McMeel, Andy Kelly, Felix McKenna, James McCarron (Dodger), Annie Treanor and of course, Ellie herself. Dr. Duffy was a great actor and was able to demonstrate how each part should be done. In one play, James McCarron, was a Policeman and he had a uniform belonging to a policeman in Emyvale – he looked great, but Dr. Duffy never gave him a ‘speaking part’. Andy Kelly had to play a woman’s part in another play and did so to great applause. Willie Skinnader was an all-rounder – he could act, sing and was a great musician. They travelled to do their show in Middletown one night and had a great time. History. Ellie was able to tell many stories regarding the ‘troubled times’ in the area early this century. These included tales of the Black and Tans and the Volunteers and, while relating these events, a note of sadness in her voice was detectable on more than one occasion. She would not be drawn on how she herself might vote but said that her father always impressed on people the importance of exercising their right to vote. Work. With all the farm work, it was necessary to hire help and the Meehan farm always had one or two servant boys to help out. In November one year an extra hand was needed. John’s son, James, heard that Barney McCartan was going to the Strabane hiring fair so he decided to go too. At these fairs a group of musicians would set up to attract the crowd to the place where the young men and women were offering their services. James was about to hire a young man when Barney stopped him as the youngster had ‘shopboy hands’. Barney saw that his hands were as white as snow and that therefore he would be of no use on a farm. It was a lucky happening for James as, within a short time, he met another man who was willing to travel anywhere including Monaghan. He was an orphan called Jimmy Kelly from Cross, near Killygordon in County Donegal. He had a small house and farm there but wanted to hire himself out. A deal was struck and Jimmy headed for his new home, for that is what it turned out to be for him, as he stayed with Meehans for forty one years, till his death at the age of 86. In all that time he only visited Donegal twice, to sort out his farm, and was regarded as a family member by the Meehan household. Indeed he is now buried in the Meehan family plot in Carrickroe graveyard. He was a great worker and a great friend to the family and his only need was tobacco, as he was a very heavy smoker. As for Barney McCartan – he failed to hire in Strabane – but they called into Dungannon on the way home that day and there he was successful. Homebird. Ellie is a home-bird and has been all her life. Belfast and Dublin were far enough. In 1979, when the Pope visited Ireland, she decided to stay at home and let the others go. Dr. Duffy gave her the keys of his house, and she, with seven or eight neighbours, went to his house and listened to the radio. But she has connections with the Vatican. Her cousin, Agnes McCluskey, was nursing in Newry and married the Master of the Workhouse there. Two of their children became priests – one was working in Trinidad but is now based in Dublin, the other works in the Vatican. These two Fr. Greenans visit Ellie when they are at home. Good Life. Ellie can remember the good times and the poorer times. She has seen many changes and has grown with these changes. Until her eyesight failed recently, she was an avid reader and enjoyed TV. Now her only regret is that she cannot pass the time as easily without her sight but Paddy, Peggy and family look after her needs and keep her abreast with everything going on. It was a pleasure to share her company and listen to her marvellous ability to recall so many interesting stories. We congratulate her on reaching such a fine age but then it runs in the family – her mother died at the age of 86, her father was 87, James was 86 and Packie was 84. We wish her many more years of health and happiness. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer.
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Ellie Meehan Ellie Agnes Meehan was born on the July 5th 1899 in Derrynarget, beside Drumbriston, Carrickroe, Co. Monaghan. She now resides with her niece Peggy McCarron in Killydrean. Her health, her memory and her cheerful disposition belies the fact of her 94 years of age. Her mother, Mary, nee McMeel, was from Corraghbrack and was related to Fr. Pat McMeel R.I.P. who ministered in Eskra, Co. Tyrone. Her father was John Meehan from Mullaghmore, Clara. He was a school teacher for forty years and served in schools in Caledon, Aughnacloy and Bragan, but for the best part of his years he was Principal of Carrickroe NS. Ellie had two brothers – James and Packie and a sister, Minnie Rose. Farming. John was a strict man in school and a very good teacher. He treated his own children no differently from the others and, when it came to homework, he made sure it was done. He had land and so there was always plenty of work to be done there and the children, including Ellie, had to help out. They tilled the land and had potatoes, corn, flax and vegetables. At mowing time her father ‘held the rod’ for the cutter and the children tied. Jimmy McKenna was a great man with the scythe and so too was Fr. George McCarron R.I.P. The flax crop was a very difficult time and many hours of hard work and slavery was involved. The digging of the spuds was another busy time and Ellie remembers her father with a big number of people helping to gather the spuds. But that was the system then – children and adults would work days for the neighbour who in turn would pay it back in kind. There was many a man who gave a day here and gave a day there and never got it back. Ceili House. The Meehan house was always a great gathering place especially during the dark winter evenings. As a teacher, John, was in demand for advice, for help in filling out forms and giving character references. He was a noted card player – an expert at “45” and once darkness fell, neighbours arrived at Meehan’s. John would read the day’s news to them from the paper and then the cards would keep the craic going till ‘bedtime’ – whatever time that might be. Indeed some of the visitors were more interested in playing cards than hearing the news. During the games, the mother or Ellie would make the tea and bread for everyone present. All the time, yarns and stories were being told - some true, some so far-fetched that they couldn’t be true – and some that may or may not be true, but a good story nonetheless. James Owenie George McMeel and his brother were great story-tellers. What’s Cooking. At National School, John Meehan saw to it that the three R’s were taught but had many other subjects on the curriculum. This included cookery. As well as two grates to heat the school, he had a range installed for the cookery classes and a cookery teacher was brought in on a regular basis to give lessons and demonstrations. John bought coal for the fires and one day the cookery teacher was trying to get the range going but it was smoking so badly that they had to open all the windows and doors and who should arrive in but the School Inspector. In his report for the Department, a copy of which he left behind, stated - ‘the cooker smoked a little’. Drama. Social life in the area centred around the school where dances and concerts were held – mainly to raise money for the parish, especially when they were building the priest’s house. Mrs McCaffrey of the Post Office gave the site for the house free of charge and this was a great start. Two priests, who were in Carrickroe, were very fond of drama and organised drama productions, which were always looked forward to. They were Dr. Duffy and Fr. George McCarron, and the atmosphere during rehearsals and the fun of doing it was well worth the work. There were many great performers involved in ‘The Plays’, people like Peter Treanor, Parick and Genie Flood, Willie Skinnader, Frank McMeel, Andy Kelly, Felix McKenna, James McCarron (Dodger), Annie Treanor and of course, Ellie herself. Dr. Duffy was a great actor and was able to demonstrate how each part should be done. In one play, James McCarron, was a Policeman and he had a uniform belonging to a policeman in Emyvale – he looked great, but Dr. Duffy never gave him a ‘speaking part’. Andy Kelly had to play a woman’s part in another play and did so to great applause. Willie Skinnader was an all- rounder – he could act, sing and was a great musician. They travelled to do their show in Middletown one night and had a great time. History. Ellie was able to tell many stories regarding the ‘troubled times’ in the area early this century. These included tales of the Black and Tans and the Volunteers and, while relating these events, a note of sadness in her voice was detectable on more than one occasion. She would not be drawn on how she herself might vote but said that her father always impressed on people the importance of exercising their right to vote. Work. With all the farm work, it was necessary to hire help and the Meehan farm always had one or two servant boys to help out. In November one year an extra hand was needed. John’s son, James, heard that Barney McCartan was going to the Strabane hiring fair so he decided to go too. At these fairs a group of musicians would set up to attract the crowd to the place where the young men and women were offering their services. James was about to hire a young man when Barney stopped him as the youngster had ‘shopboy hands’. Barney saw that his hands were as white as snow and that therefore he would be of no use on a farm. It was a lucky happening for James as, within a short time, he met another man who was willing to travel anywhere including Monaghan. He was an orphan called Jimmy Kelly from Cross, near Killygordon in County Donegal. He had a small house and farm there but wanted to hire himself out. A deal was struck and Jimmy headed for his new home, for that is what it turned out to be for him, as he stayed with Meehans for forty one years, till his death at the age of 86. In all that time he only visited Donegal twice, to sort out his farm, and was regarded as a family member by the Meehan household. Indeed he is now buried in the Meehan family plot in Carrickroe graveyard. He was a great worker and a great friend to the family and his only need was tobacco, as he was a very heavy smoker. As for Barney McCartan – he failed to hire in Strabane – but they called into Dungannon on the way home that day and there he was successful. Homebird. Ellie is a home-bird and has been all her life. Belfast and Dublin were far enough. In 1979, when the Pope visited Ireland, she decided to stay at home and let the others go. Dr. Duffy gave her the keys of his house, and she, with seven or eight neighbours, went to his house and listened to the radio. But she has connections with the Vatican. Her cousin, Agnes McCluskey, was nursing in Newry and married the Master of the Workhouse there. Two of their children became priests – one was working in Trinidad but is now based in Dublin, the other works in the Vatican. These two Fr. Greenans visit Ellie when they are at home. Good Life. Ellie can remember the good times and the poorer times. She has seen many changes and has grown with these changes. Until her eyesight failed recently, she was an avid reader and enjoyed TV. Now her only regret is that she cannot pass the time as easily without her sight but Paddy, Peggy and family look after her needs and keep her abreast with everything going on. It was a pleasure to share her company and listen to her marvellous ability to recall so many interesting stories. We congratulate her on reaching such a fine age but then it runs in the family – her mother died at the age of 86, her father was 87, James was 86 and Packie was 84. We wish her many more years of health and happiness. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer.