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Martin McCarron: Profile conducted in the 1990’s and published in the Dungannon Observer - copyright The blacksmith is known as the “grandfather of all industry”, as he was the one to make the tools from metal by which industries were able to do their work. Even though the proper term for a person who puts shoes on horses is a farrier, the blacksmith was the man to do it. Indeed all over the world the blacksmith ranked very high in the social order because they were trained in special magic. Not only could they create things from metal but during various eras they were known to heal, prophesize and make weapons filled with magical powers. Most pagan cultures held blacksmiths in awe because of their ability to create, using the four elements – Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. In most countries there were many more blacksmiths than doctors. Moore Street, Aughnacloy, had its blacksmith and did a roaring trade until the tractor put him out of business. He tried to continue making gates and other pieces of metalwork but eventually his skills were no longer required in Aughnacloy. He was Martin McCarron’s father. After a period in England, working in a factory, he returned to his forge but it was for racehorses and the like as a work horse was gone. Martin remembers that men used to come to the town and ask for the blacksmith. These were down-and-out men and many of them were former blacksmiths. They would take a day’s work or whatever they could get. He recalls one particular man, who arrived in a terrible mess – holes in his boots and socks, dirty clothes and unshaven. He was taken in and cleaned up and Martin’s mother gave him a complete change of clothes. He was a new man. His old socks and boots were burned and so there was no waste. He stayed the night and he got a big breakfast next morning and some food for the road and off he went. When he went over the hill at the chapel going towards Ballygawley or Augher he disappeared and he would never be seen in Aughnacloy again. Martin McCarron was born in Dungannon hospital, the youngest of seven children. The family lived on Moore Street, Aughnacloy. There was Sheila, Bridie, Ann, Eddie, Peter, Frankie and Martin. All his sisters and brothers are alive and well but Martin is the only one to remain in Aughnacloy. Loss of Services. The maternity unit is now gone from Dungannon and that was a big loss. Martin’s own children were born there. Looking back he remembers that there was a poor bus service to Dungannon – 10am and 6pm and it costs 8d (Pennines) return. However neighbours with cars always helped out in bringing people to visit relatives in hospital, whether that be in Dungannon or across the border in Monaghan. One great character from the town was always good for a lift to Dungannon. Davy Singleton had a betting shop there and would take three people with him in the morning. They could visit people in hospital, do their shopping in the town, pay a visit to Wellworths and get back home with Davy again that evening. It was a way of life. The fact that the hospital lost its services had a big impact on people’s lives. Martin says that the finger of blame can be pointed at Government but the medical profession must also be blamed. It was impossible to get the high-powered well qualified consultants to work in Dungannon as they had their eyes set on greater things and bigger hospitals, even though open-heart surgery was never going to happen in Dungannon. Martin was part of a group which organised protests at the down-grading of services there. He worked with Eithne McCord and others and held rallies here, there and everywhere and rallies led by Dr. McCord senior but all to no avail. At least the hospital did not close as there are clinics going on there now and it is a rehabilitation centre for people recovering from operations done elsewhere. It is just a ‘mickey-mouse’ place but valuable, so people had to just grin and bear it. It would take a person 20 minutes flat-out getting to Dungannon and one hour to get to Craigavon. God knows what is there for the future – perhaps we will have to rely on Altnagevlin, Cavan, or down the M1 to Belfast. Martin would also be critical of the massive salaries of all medical profession above nurses, and this is on both sides of the border. Their wages soak up so much of the money available for services. Old Aughnacloy. An old photograph taken in Moore Street showed one lorry on the street. Paddy Douglas was the driver and it was the milk-lorry from Augher Creamery. It was parked opposite what is now the Rossmore. There were four car owners in the town at the time but it has been explained that on the day that photo was taken they were all away to the magical land, many miles away, in Bundoran. Martin himself was never at the seaside until he was fifteen years of age, when six of them went there in a Morris Minor car. Until then all he could do was dream of what it was like. Education. Martin went to St. Mary’s Primary School, which is now a car-park at the chapel. He then passed the 11+ and went to St. Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon. It was a tough life, especially when you had not got your homework done. Those who were ‘bright’, maybe, had an easier time as they were able to cope with the work better but it was tough. After the Academy he went to University in Manchester and then came back home to teach in various schools including Dungannon, Carrickmore, Omagh and now settled in Ballygawley. His main subject is mathematics, though he once taught P.E, but they took that away from him ‘for obvious reasons’. Teaching has changed drastically over the years. When he started teaching you got your timetable and taught your classes. The little bit of paperwork was simple, and the Headmaster and Deputy looked after the main part. There was no big emphasis on the level of grade in A levels as long as you passed it. Now teachers are drowned in a sea of paperwork. You have to assess this and assess that, self-assessment, forms filled, tick the boxes here and there, assess students, predict grades and assess fellow teachers – there is no end to it. The emphasis seems to have gone away from actual teaching and more time is spent on form-filling. All the while there is less and less credit being given to the teacher for what they do and it is very easy to blame the teacher. I thought he was about to repeat John F Kennedy’s statement – ‘Modern cynics and sceptics see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing’, but he just stated that the paperwork saps the energy that should be used in teaching. Social Life. As a young man he can remember going to the ‘Chicken-in-the-Rough’ in the Hillgrove Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan and paid £1.50 in. They would get a lift with someone and his cousin, Joe Taylor, could take six in his car. He recalled a number of escapades from those days but in reality they were innocent if compared to happenings at gatherings today. The music makers of the time were the showbands: Big Tom; Joe Dolan; Indians; Ray Lynam; Hucklebuck, but Discos were becoming popular. Martin preferred the Disco scene and the music from the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Who, Thin Lizzy, Hot Chocolate, Fleetwood Mac and he still loved the Irish singers too, as they had great voices – people like Bridie Gallagher and Eileen Donaghy. He recalls moving into long hair, wide trousers and the pink shirts. It was a time of change and people were embracing it, though the parents thought that their children were rebellious and going to the bad. The Troubles restricted things for young people and most went south for their entertainment. There was good fun to be had. They used go on the ‘Blayney Bus’ from McAvin’s for 4 shillings return. Flushing Toilets. Life was getting better and housing conditions were improving speedily. At that point he remembered one night that a few men had gathered in his house with his father and they were talking about the greatest inventions and advancement. One said it was the motor car, another said the Russians sending a man to the moon, but his father spoke up and said that the greatest was the flush toilet – in a room where you could do so many things and then, using the gravity flow of water, get rid of everything. Cars and Television were all extras but the flush toilet was a basic and everyone tried to have it installed as soon as possible. Committees. Marin has been involved in many community activities and is now part of the committee for ‘Save the Omagh Hospital’. He is also on the Horse-Racing committee and they give the profits from that to local charities. This year it went to Newry Hospice and Marie Cure. The horse racing in Aughnacloy goes back to the 16th Century, when the cavalry used race round the ‘thistle’ for a coveted prize. In the 50’s and 60’s there were races run by his father, Frank McKeever and Paddy Douglas and people like that. There were great side shows at the races and he used to enjoy the fun at the races. Then it died out again and a few got together some years ago to revive the races and to raise some money for charity. There is a social life going along with the Committee and there is a great enjoyment in the preparations. The Committee is cross-community and it is anxious to remain so as it is very important to them. Fundraiser. Martin has compered Fashion Shows, Quizzes, Mr and Mrs Competitions, for fund raiser and he could find himself anywhere on a night. He enjoys that and meets many different people and gets the odd wee present for helping out. He supports his local football team, Aghaloo, and was an officer in times past. His boys are also involved with the football. The Hospital Committee and the Racing Committee take up quite a bit of time and cuts down on the time he can devote to other committees. He married Christine from Tulnavern, Ballygawley, 33 years ago and she is a nurse. She also does charity work and is the mother of his five children – Conor, Stephen, Martin, Gary and Christina. Famous Funeral. Local characters abounded in Aughnacloy over the years. Davy Singleton, already mentioned, was a great character and had eleven children. He started as a clerk in a Bookie’s office and then opened his own small shop in Dungannon. The McNulty brothers (Packie, Gerard, Martin and Malachy), Tommy Taylor, Dr. McCord, Leo Cuddy (a great story- teller), and James Sands were well known and many many others. Charlie Chapman came to live in Aughnacloy. He was a retired army captain and great cricketer. He coached cricket around Sion Mills. He had a flat above Boyle’s pub on Moore Street and had a dog called Sally, who had been with him for 19 years. Sally died and there was a wake, where everyone was given a bottle of stout. Some are known to have gone three times. A coffin was made and a funeral was held at 5pm. Sally was laid out in the coffin and four pall-bearers carried the coffin across the street and all traffic was held up. He was buried and a stone was laid at the grave (it is still there). Charlie gave an oration at the grave and all returned to Gilmartins to drown their sorrows. Markets. When asked about the demise of the town Market, Martin was not worried as it has gone down before but it always comes back and it will again. When he was young he worked with Tommy Taylor and was allowed to drive the horse. He allowed his imagination to run wild. One day he was Zorro and the next Jesse James, driving this 20 year old horse called Billy at 1mph down Aughnacloy street. Aughnacloy has no ballroom, no hotel and no swimming pool? It never had a real social life of its own and Martin goes to Armagh Swimming Pool or Monaghan. However the travel is off-putting. A Community Hall was suggested once but Ballygawley had a great one. People would go elsewhere and, with the good exchange rate with the euro, there are bargains to be got in the south, though groceries seem to be better priced up north. GAA Getting back to football and Tyrone’s situation in the championship, Martin became very serious as he is disappointed and disgusted with those who have been critical of Mickey Harte. He knows Mickey very well, having been a colleague, and he is aware at a personal level that he certainly does not deserve the criticism. This year too he will be shouting for Monaghan as he would love to see them beat Kerry, plus another colleague, Martin McElkennon, is the trainer with them and has done a great job. Again Martin spoke with distain of those who wanted to get rid of Banty from the Monaghan management earlier and he heaped praise on two Monaghan men – Paraic Duffy for his wisdom and cleverness at introducing and refining the backdoor system and Sean McCague for bringing him on board. Time up Too soon time was up and we had to leave many stories untold. At another time we hope they can be aired. Thanks Martin
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Martin McCarron: Profile conducted in the 1990’s and published in the Dungannon Observer - copyright The blacksmith is known as the “grandfather of all industry”, as he was the one to make the tools from metal by which industries were able to do their work. Even though the proper term for a person who puts shoes on horses is a farrier, the blacksmith was the man to do it. Indeed all over the world the blacksmith ranked very high in the social order because they were trained in special magic. Not only could they create things from metal but during various eras they were known to heal, prophesize and make weapons filled with magical powers. Most pagan cultures held blacksmiths in awe because of their ability to create, using the four elements – Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. In most countries there were many more blacksmiths than doctors. Moore Street, Aughnacloy, had its blacksmith and did a roaring trade until the tractor put him out of business. He tried to continue making gates and other pieces of metalwork but eventually his skills were no longer required in Aughnacloy. He was Martin McCarron’s father. After a period in England, working in a factory, he returned to his forge but it was for racehorses and the like as a work horse was gone. Martin remembers that men used to come to the town and ask for the blacksmith. These were down-and-out men and many of them were former blacksmiths. They would take a day’s work or whatever they could get. He recalls one particular man, who arrived in a terrible mess – holes in his boots and socks, dirty clothes and unshaven. He was taken in and cleaned up and Martin’s mother gave him a complete change of clothes. He was a new man. His old socks and boots were burned and so there was no waste. He stayed the night and he got a big breakfast next morning and some food for the road and off he went. When he went over the hill at the chapel going towards Ballygawley or Augher he disappeared and he would never be seen in Aughnacloy again. Martin McCarron was born in Dungannon hospital, the youngest of seven children. The family lived on Moore Street, Aughnacloy. There was Sheila, Bridie, Ann, Eddie, Peter, Frankie and Martin. All his sisters and brothers are alive and well but Martin is the only one to remain in Aughnacloy. Loss of Services. The maternity unit is now gone from Dungannon and that was a big loss. Martin’s own children were born there. Looking back he remembers that there was a poor bus service to Dungannon – 10am and 6pm and it costs 8d (Pennines) return. However neighbours with cars always helped out in bringing people to visit relatives in hospital, whether that be in Dungannon or across the border in Monaghan. One great character from the town was always good for a lift to Dungannon. Davy Singleton had a betting shop there and would take three people with him in the morning. They could visit people in hospital, do their shopping in the town, pay a visit to Wellworths and get back home with Davy again that evening. It was a way of life. The fact that the hospital lost its services had a big impact on people’s lives. Martin says that the finger of blame can be pointed at Government but the medical profession must also be blamed. It was impossible to get the high-powered well qualified consultants to work in Dungannon as they had their eyes set on greater things and bigger hospitals, even though open-heart surgery was never going to happen in Dungannon. Martin was part of a group which organised protests at the down- grading of services there. He worked with Eithne McCord and others and held rallies here, there and everywhere and rallies led by Dr. McCord senior but all to no avail. At least the hospital did not close as there are clinics going on there now and it is a rehabilitation centre for people recovering from operations done elsewhere. It is just a ‘mickey-mouse’ place but valuable, so people had to just grin and bear it. It would take a person 20 minutes flat-out getting to Dungannon and one hour to get to Craigavon. God knows what is there for the future – perhaps we will have to rely on Altnagevlin, Cavan, or down the M1 to Belfast. Martin would also be critical of the massive salaries of all medical profession above nurses, and this is on both sides of the border. Their wages soak up so much of the money available for services. Old Aughnacloy. An old photograph taken in Moore Street showed one lorry on the street. Paddy Douglas was the driver and it was the milk-lorry from Augher Creamery. It was parked opposite what is now the Rossmore. There were four car owners in the town at the time but it has been explained that on the day that photo was taken they were all away to the magical land, many miles away, in Bundoran. Martin himself was never at the seaside until he was fifteen years of age, when six of them went there in a Morris Minor car. Until then all he could do was dream of what it was like. Education. Martin went to St. Mary’s Primary School, which is now a car-park at the chapel. He then passed the 11+ and went to St. Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon. It was a tough life, especially when you had not got your homework done. Those who were ‘bright’, maybe, had an easier time as they were able to cope with the work better but it was tough. After the Academy he went to University in Manchester and then came back home to teach in various schools including Dungannon, Carrickmore, Omagh and now settled in Ballygawley. His main subject is mathematics, though he once taught P.E, but they took that away from him ‘for obvious reasons’. Teaching has changed drastically over the years. When he started teaching you got your timetable and taught your classes. The little bit of paperwork was simple, and the Headmaster and Deputy looked after the main part. There was no big emphasis on the level of grade in A levels as long as you passed it. Now teachers are drowned in a sea of paperwork. You have to assess this and assess that, self-assessment, forms filled, tick the boxes here and there, assess students, predict grades and assess fellow teachers – there is no end to it. The emphasis seems to have gone away from actual teaching and more time is spent on form-filling. All the while there is less and less credit being given to the teacher for what they do and it is very easy to blame the teacher. I thought he was about to repeat John F Kennedy’s statement – ‘Modern cynics and sceptics see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing’, but he just stated that the paperwork saps the energy that should be used in teaching. Social Life. As a young man he can remember going to the ‘Chicken- in-the-Rough’ in the Hillgrove Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel in Monaghan and paid £1.50 in. They would get a lift with someone and his cousin, Joe Taylor, could take six in his car. He recalled a number of escapades from those days but in reality they were innocent if compared to happenings at gatherings today. The music makers of the time were the showbands: Big Tom; Joe Dolan; Indians; Ray Lynam; Hucklebuck, but Discos were becoming popular. Martin preferred the Disco scene and the music from the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Who, Thin Lizzy, Hot Chocolate, Fleetwood Mac and he still loved the Irish singers too, as they had great voices – people like Bridie Gallagher and Eileen Donaghy. He recalls moving into long hair, wide trousers and the pink shirts. It was a time of change and people were embracing it, though the parents thought that their children were rebellious and going to the bad. The Troubles restricted things for young people and most went south for their entertainment. There was good fun to be had. They used go on the ‘Blayney Bus’ from McAvin’s for 4 shillings return. Flushing Toilets. Life was getting better and housing conditions were improving speedily. At that point he remembered one night that a few men had gathered in his house with his father and they were talking about the greatest inventions and advancement. One said it was the motor car, another said the Russians sending a man to the moon, but his father spoke up and said that the greatest was the flush toilet – in a room where you could do so many things and then, using the gravity flow of water, get rid of everything. Cars and Television were all extras but the flush toilet was a basic and everyone tried to have it installed as soon as possible. Committees. Marin has been involved in many community activities and is now part of the committee for ‘Save the Omagh Hospital’. He is also on the Horse-Racing committee and they give the profits from that to local charities. This year it went to Newry Hospice and Marie Cure. The horse racing in Aughnacloy goes back to the 16th Century, when the cavalry used race round the ‘thistle’ for a coveted prize. In the 50’s and 60’s there were races run by his father, Frank McKeever and Paddy Douglas and people like that. There were great side shows at the races and he used to enjoy the fun at the races. Then it died out again and a few got together some years ago to revive the races and to raise some money for charity. There is a social life going along with the Committee and there is a great enjoyment in the preparations. The Committee is cross-community and it is anxious to remain so as it is very important to them. Fundraiser. Martin has compered Fashion Shows, Quizzes, Mr and Mrs Competitions, for fund raiser and he could find himself anywhere on a night. He enjoys that and meets many different people and gets the odd wee present for helping out. He supports his local football team, Aghaloo, and was an officer in times past. His boys are also involved with the football. The Hospital Committee and the Racing Committee take up quite a bit of time and cuts down on the time he can devote to other committees. He married Christine from Tulnavern, Ballygawley, 33 years ago and she is a nurse. She also does charity work and is the mother of his five children – Conor, Stephen, Martin, Gary and Christina. Famous Funeral. Local characters abounded in Aughnacloy over the years. Davy Singleton, already mentioned, was a great character and had eleven children. He started as a clerk in a Bookie’s office and then opened his own small shop in Dungannon. The McNulty brothers (Packie, Gerard, Martin and Malachy), Tommy Taylor, Dr. McCord, Leo Cuddy (a great story-teller), and James Sands were well known and many many others. Charlie Chapman came to live in Aughnacloy. He was a retired army captain and great cricketer. He coached cricket around Sion Mills. He had a flat above Boyle’s pub on Moore Street and had a dog called Sally, who had been with him for 19 years. Sally died and there was a wake, where everyone was given a bottle of stout. Some are known to have gone three times. A coffin was made and a funeral was held at 5pm. Sally was laid out in the coffin and four pall-bearers carried the coffin across the street and all traffic was held up. He was buried and a stone was laid at the grave (it is still there). Charlie gave an oration at the grave and all returned to Gilmartins to drown their sorrows. Markets. When asked about the demise of the town Market, Martin was not worried as it has gone down before but it always comes back and it will again. When he was young he worked with Tommy Taylor and was allowed to drive the horse. He allowed his imagination to run wild. One day he was Zorro and the next Jesse James, driving this 20 year old horse called Billy at 1mph down Aughnacloy street. Aughnacloy has no ballroom, no hotel and no swimming pool? It never had a real social life of its own and Martin goes to Armagh Swimming Pool or Monaghan. However the travel is off-putting. A Community Hall was suggested once but Ballygawley had a great one. People would go elsewhere and, with the good exchange rate with the euro, there are bargains to be got in the south, though groceries seem to be better priced up north. GAA Getting back to football and Tyrone’s situation in the championship, Martin became very serious as he is disappointed and disgusted with those who have been critical of Mickey Harte. He knows Mickey very well, having been a colleague, and he is aware at a personal level that he certainly does not deserve the criticism. This year too he will be shouting for Monaghan as he would love to see them beat Kerry, plus another colleague, Martin McElkennon, is the trainer with them and has done a great job. Again Martin spoke with distain of those who wanted to get rid of Banty from the Monaghan management earlier and he heaped praise on two Monaghan men – Paraic Duffy for his wisdom and cleverness at introducing and refining the backdoor system and Sean McCague for bringing him on board. Time up Too soon time was up and we had to leave many stories untold. At another time we hope they can be aired. Thanks Martin