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Face to Face with James Harvey The more one talks to senior members of the farming community the more it becomes obvious that industrialisation and mechanisation took away much of the toil, drudgery and heavy manual labour. The hours are still long and it is a seven day week job. As the weather permits, the work must be done and perhaps the pressure is still there as overheads have increased and more money has to be invested to keep up with current trends and regulations. When asked which task they found hardest in the old days, many farmers will have as many answers but one man’s reply was ‘gathering stones off a corn field’ and another was ‘saying the rosary’ but for James Harvey of Sougher, Emyvale, spraying potatoes with a knapsack sprayer was no easy way of spending a day. James was born in the Harvey home in Sougher in 1912. His father was frank and his mother Rose Ann, nee Kierans from Mullinacross, Errigal. James had no brothers and his two sisters have passed to their eternal reward. They were Mary Skinnader and Kitty Sullivan. Sharing At the age of twelve James left school to take up work on his father’s farm. He attended Carrickroe NS where Master Meehan was Principal and Master McEntee took over while James was a pupil. The farm work was mainly done by hand though the Harveys and McMeels shared horses and machinery like the plough, grubber and harrow. They planted the usual crops: a few acres of potatoes, four or five of corn, some grasseed and a few drills of vegetables. Flax. However at one time flax was one of their main crops. This was a particularly difficult plant to cultivate and harvest. First of all the ground had to be prepared well. The mould had to be fine and tramped. In April the seed was sown by hand followed by a light harrowing. It was always a help if there was some rain after sowing, although too much rain did as much damage as the drought. The flax was usually ready for pulling between July 20th and August 15th. This was done by hand and tied with a band made from rushes. The women and children usually made the rush-bands. The loads of flax were then taken and put into the flaxhole or dam, weighed down with sods and stones and left to drown for seven to fourteen days. It was then taken out and spread to dry. This was done on a clean field like hay ground, and hopefully the sun and wind would take care of the rest. To help it along, farmers sometimes built the flax into “nannies” to let the wind blow through it. When it was dry the flax was once again tied into beets, stooked and stacked. It was then drawn to the flaxmill for scutching and there were quite a few mills in the area. There was McCreedy’s, Maguires, Wallace’s and Lisdoort. Buyers for the finished product came around the Mills and bought the ’Tow’ at so much per stone. Some years there was good money but the price gradually fell until it wasn’t worth the trouble. The era of the flax came and went a few times this century. After the first World War it died out but came back during and after World War 11 but fell away again. In places it is making a comeback at the moment though most is still imported. Scythe. The corn, hay and grasseed were all cut with the scythe in James’s younger days and he became a handyman with the scythe. He preferred the straight ‘snead’ – straight handle – and could cut a statue acre of corn per day. It was a special art, as was sharpening the blade, but practice made perfect. Turkeys. As was the norm, there were the usual animals and fowl to be cared for - anything from three to eight cows to be milked by hand, calves to be fed, pigs to be tended to and a few hens running about the yard. For Christmas a dozen or so turkeys were reared to raise a few extra pounds to tide them over the season – as some used to say –“ The price of the turkeys would buy the blue week!” The ‘blue week’ was the week before Christmas. The Bog. Of course, every year a big effort was made to have all the crop in before May 1st, as that was ‘Bog Time’. Over the next few weeks the turf had to be cut, dried, drawn out and taken home, to be built in a stack or stead at the gable of the house, thatched and tied down to keep the fires burning during the coming winter months. James would head off at eight o’clock in the morning, walk the six miles to Bragan, work till eight in the evening and walk home again. If, and when, the wheelbarrow was needed, then it had to be pushed the six miles too, unless a cart came along to give them a lift. Sometimes a creel was used to carry the turf from the bank to the road, though in later years an old bonnet off a car, turned upside down, and towed from the bank to the road with a rope on a pulley at the back of a tractor, could be seen in use. Twenty five cart full was the usual yearly supply, though this had to be supplemented with sticks. About fifty plus years ago the Land Commission took control of a large area of Bragan and divided it out. Most people in the area were given an acre on a long term lease and yearly rental from 3/9 to 19/- was paid. Machine Turf. Today very few cut the turf by hand, as it is done by machinery. If you have your own bank, as the Harveys have, you can hire the machine to cut what you want; otherwise you can buy the turf cut on another bank. There are various opinions regarding the quality of machine cut turf compared to the handcut but James claims they are just as good, if not better, and provide a good fire. Stonemason. But farming wasn’t the only occupation James had. He went into the building trade and became a well-known craftsman at stonework. He, with Genie McKenna, were involved in the erection, repair and enlargement of many a house and factory. Here too he wasn’t afraid of hard work and was busy from nine until dark. On The Roads. At one stage too he worked on the roads. The County Council sought tenders for the maintenance of stretches of roadway, and the lowest price got the contract for one or two years. Hedges were trimmed, and the roads tabled. Gravel was drawn from Glenmore or Donegal quarries and potholes filled and rolled. In the quarry the stones were broken and measured, although sometimes they were broken on the roadway. The money for this work was very poor, as men cut the price very low in order to get the contract. Family. In 1941 James married Mary Treanor from Dundian. The ceremony was held in Ballyoisin Church with Fr. Shreenan as celebrant. Agnes, Mary’s sister, was bridesmaid and Owen Skinnader was best man. Due to a tragedy in Agnes’s immediate family, the celebrations were curtailed on the wedding day. There are five children in the Harvey family: Rosemary (Fields, Cornacrieve); Jim (Sougher); Kay and Brian (Monaghan); and Geraldine (Donnelly, Augher). Davagh. But life wasn’t all work for James. He, with his companions like the McGees, Loughrans and Treanors, had plenty to fill their leisure time. They played skittles, and marbles an odd time, but pitching coins at Davagh Cross often took them through till morning. Davagh Cross was a great meeting place where everyone gathered during the long summer evenings for the chat and the craic. During winter evenings it was card-playing in the houses and ceiliing. Harvey’s was a great Ceili house and the yarns and stories were told by the dozen. It must have been during these sessions that James developed his quick wit and marvellous turn of phrase. He comes out with some great sayings, both philosophical and humorous. Shank’s Mare. As a huntsman, James is well known, far and wide, and he walked many a mile uphill and down dale with his hounds. But then, walking was no problem for James. They say that many used walk their geese out to graze on Coolberrin for they said that ‘a gander and twelve geese ate the grass of a cow’. James may not have walked geese but he drove a number of turkeys quite a distance to market, and once, when he, Mick O Neill and John McKenna, were with a hunting party in Rehaghey, near Benburb, the hounds had not been rounded up as the bus was leaving for home. So they waited for the hounds and walked home. Football. James was a great footballer too. He liked to play centre half or left half and joined the Carrickroe team. Fr. Pat McKenna formed the Truagh Club and in the spring of 1935 affiliated it for the first time. Fr. Dan Treanor, a Truagh man, was playing for Monaghan County team against Galway in 1934 and hearing Michael O’Heihir’s first commentary instilled a great spirit for football in the area. They practiced in McCaffrey’s field, above Carrickroe chapel, but they moved to McCaughey’s field at Dundian. They had some great tussles with teams from Monaghan, Aghabog, Cremartin and Currin among others. John Treanor, Barney Treanor, Benny Smyth (Fr.), Owen Smyth, Tommy O’Kelly, John McVeigh, Peter Sherry, George McCarron (Fr.), Jimmy Treanor, Pat McCrudden, John Mohan and Packie McMeel were some of the players at the time, while Eoin McMahon, Barney, Peter, Charlie and Packie Treanor were well known footballers in North Monaghan As he lived next door to Davagh Hall, it provided plenty of entertainment for James and his friends and it was in the same Hall that Davagh Band did all their practising. James still keeps himself busy with some farming and he likes the outside life. At night he likes to chat or watch some television, which isn’t as good as it used to be, as the programmes are not as interesting. However, he is not depending on it as he has many other things to keep his mind occupied, and we wish him health to enjoy life for many more years to come. Compiled by Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer. This item is copyright.
All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Face to Face with James Harvey The more one talks to senior members of the farming community the more it becomes obvious that industrialisation and mechanisation took away much of the toil, drudgery and heavy manual labour. The hours are still long and it is a seven day week job. As the weather permits, the work must be done and perhaps the pressure is still there as overheads have increased and more money has to be invested to keep up with current trends and regulations. When asked which task they found hardest in the old days, many farmers will have as many answers but one man’s reply was ‘gathering stones off a corn field’ and another was ‘saying the rosary’ but for James Harvey of Sougher, Emyvale, spraying potatoes with a knapsack sprayer was no easy way of spending a day. James was born in the Harvey home in Sougher in 1912. His father was frank and his mother Rose Ann, nee Kierans from Mullinacross, Errigal. James had no brothers and his two sisters have passed to their eternal reward. They were Mary Skinnader and Kitty Sullivan. Sharing At the age of twelve James left school to take up work on his father’s farm. He attended Carrickroe NS where Master Meehan was Principal and Master McEntee took over while James was a pupil. The farm work was mainly done by hand though the Harveys and McMeels shared horses and machinery like the plough, grubber and harrow. They planted the usual crops: a few acres of potatoes, four or five of corn, some grasseed and a few drills of vegetables. Flax. However at one time flax was one of their main crops. This was a particularly difficult plant to cultivate and harvest. First of all the ground had to be prepared well. The mould had to be fine and tramped. In April the seed was sown by hand followed by a light harrowing. It was always a help if there was some rain after sowing, although too much rain did as much damage as the drought. The flax was usually ready for pulling between July 20th and August 15th. This was done by hand and tied with a band made from rushes. The women and children usually made the rush-bands. The loads of flax were then taken and put into the flaxhole or dam, weighed down with sods and stones and left to drown for seven to fourteen days. It was then taken out and spread to dry. This was done on a clean field like hay ground, and hopefully the sun and wind would take care of the rest. To help it along, farmers sometimes built the flax into “nannies” to let the wind blow through it. When it was dry the flax was once again tied into beets, stooked and stacked. It was then drawn to the flaxmill for scutching and there were quite a few mills in the area. There was McCreedy’s, Maguires, Wallace’s and Lisdoort. Buyers for the finished product came around the Mills and bought the ’Tow’ at so much per stone. Some years there was good money but the price gradually fell until it wasn’t worth the trouble. The era of the flax came and went a few times this century. After the first World War it died out but came back during and after World War 11 but fell away again. In places it is making a comeback at the moment though most is still imported. Scythe. The corn, hay and grasseed were all cut with the scythe in James’s younger days and he became a handyman with the scythe. He preferred the straight ‘snead’ – straight handle – and could cut a statue acre of corn per day. It was a special art, as was sharpening the blade, but practice made perfect. Turkeys. As was the norm, there were the usual animals and fowl to be cared for - anything from three to eight cows to be milked by hand, calves to be fed, pigs to be tended to and a few hens running about the yard. For Christmas a dozen or so turkeys were reared to raise a few extra pounds to tide them over the season – as some used to say –“ The price of the turkeys would buy the blue week!” The ‘blue week’ was the week before Christmas. The Bog. Of course, every year a big effort was made to have all the crop in before May 1st, as that was ‘Bog Time’. Over the next few weeks the turf had to be cut, dried, drawn out and taken home, to be built in a stack or stead at the gable of the house, thatched and tied down to keep the fires burning during the coming winter months. James would head off at eight o’clock in the morning, walk the six miles to Bragan, work till eight in the evening and walk home again. If, and when, the wheelbarrow was needed, then it had to be pushed the six miles too, unless a cart came along to give them a lift. Sometimes a creel was used to carry the turf from the bank to the road, though in later years an old bonnet off a car, turned upside down, and towed from the bank to the road with a rope on a pulley at the back of a tractor, could be seen in use. Twenty five cart full was the usual yearly supply, though this had to be supplemented with sticks. About fifty plus years ago the Land Commission took control of a large area of Bragan and divided it out. Most people in the area were given an acre on a long term lease and yearly rental from 3/9 to 19/- was paid. Machine Turf. Today very few cut the turf by hand, as it is done by machinery. If you have your own bank, as the Harveys have, you can hire the machine to cut what you want; otherwise you can buy the turf cut on another bank. There are various opinions regarding the quality of machine cut turf compared to the handcut but James claims they are just as good, if not better, and provide a good fire. Stonemason. But farming wasn’t the only occupation James had. He went into the building trade and became a well-known craftsman at stonework. He, with Genie McKenna, were involved in the erection, repair and enlargement of many a house and factory. Here too he wasn’t afraid of hard work and was busy from nine until dark. On The Roads. At one stage too he worked on the roads. The County Council sought tenders for the maintenance of stretches of roadway, and the lowest price got the contract for one or two years. Hedges were trimmed, and the roads tabled. Gravel was drawn from Glenmore or Donegal quarries and potholes filled and rolled. In the quarry the stones were broken and measured, although sometimes they were broken on the roadway. The money for this work was very poor, as men cut the price very low in order to get the contract. Family. In 1941 James married Mary Treanor from Dundian. The ceremony was held in Ballyoisin Church with Fr. Shreenan as celebrant. Agnes, Mary’s sister, was bridesmaid and Owen Skinnader was best man. Due to a tragedy in Agnes’s immediate family, the celebrations were curtailed on the wedding day. There are five children in the Harvey family: Rosemary (Fields, Cornacrieve); Jim (Sougher); Kay and Brian (Monaghan); and Geraldine (Donnelly, Augher). Davagh. But life wasn’t all work for James. He, with his companions like the McGees, Loughrans and Treanors, had plenty to fill their leisure time. They played skittles, and marbles an odd time, but pitching coins at Davagh Cross often took them through till morning. Davagh Cross was a great meeting place where everyone gathered during the long summer evenings for the chat and the craic. During winter evenings it was card-playing in the houses and ceiliing. Harvey’s was a great Ceili house and the yarns and stories were told by the dozen. It must have been during these sessions that James developed his quick wit and marvellous turn of phrase. He comes out with some great sayings, both philosophical and humorous. Shank’s Mare. As a huntsman, James is well known, far and wide, and he walked many a mile uphill and down dale with his hounds. But then, walking was no problem for James. They say that many used walk their geese out to graze on Coolberrin for they said that ‘a gander and twelve geese ate the grass of a cow’. James may not have walked geese but he drove a number of turkeys quite a distance to market, and once, when he, Mick O Neill and John McKenna, were with a hunting party in Rehaghey, near Benburb, the hounds had not been rounded up as the bus was leaving for home. So they waited for the hounds and walked home. Football. James was a great footballer too. He liked to play centre half or left half and joined the Carrickroe team. Fr. Pat McKenna formed the Truagh Club and in the spring of 1935 affiliated it for the first time. Fr. Dan Treanor, a Truagh man, was playing for Monaghan County team against Galway in 1934 and hearing Michael O’Heihir’s first commentary instilled a great spirit for football in the area. They practiced in McCaffrey’s field, above Carrickroe chapel, but they moved to McCaughey’s field at Dundian. They had some great tussles with teams from Monaghan, Aghabog, Cremartin and Currin among others. John Treanor, Barney Treanor, Benny Smyth (Fr.), Owen Smyth, Tommy O’Kelly, John McVeigh, Peter Sherry, George McCarron (Fr.), Jimmy Treanor, Pat McCrudden, John Mohan and Packie McMeel were some of the players at the time, while Eoin McMahon, Barney, Peter, Charlie and Packie Treanor were well known footballers in North Monaghan As he lived next door to Davagh Hall, it provided plenty of entertainment for James and his friends and it was in the same Hall that Davagh Band did all their practising. James still keeps himself busy with some farming and he likes the outside life. At night he likes to chat or watch some television, which isn’t as good as it used to be, as the programmes are not as interesting. However, he is not depending on it as he has many other things to keep his mind occupied, and we wish him health to enjoy life for many more years to come. Compiled by Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer. This item is copyright.