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Mary McKenna, Lisgrew. We can all talk about inflation and the devaluation of money, we can compare prices of today and yesterday, but Mary McKenna from Lisgrew, Emyvale, with her memories as a shopkeeper in the 1930’s can quote prices that would make one jealous. However she can soon put the cost of living in context and balance the cheap goods against the hard work which soon removes the attractiveness. Mary was the daughter of Michael Treanor, a farmer in Killacorn. Her mother was Ann Jane, nee Treanor, from Raflaconny. She had one sister Cassie, who was married to Mr. McCabe, the Tydavnet teacher. Her brothers, Packie, Owenie, Mick and Jimmy have all gone to their eternal rewards. Packie is interred in America, the others rest in Carrickroe. School. As a young girl Mary attended Carrickroe National School. Master Meehan and Miss McDonald were the teachers. She loved school and looks back with joy on those days when she walked to and from the old schoolhouse with the McCarrons from Killacorn – Peter, Mick, Anna, and Mary Catherine. She had a great interest in her subjects in the classroom and remembers Master Meehan making them do their exercises – not just written ones but physical exercise as well. During bad weather he used make the class march in time around the room. One day as they were marching a ‘smart boy’ in the class threw a piece of bread at the Master. He stopped the march and said –“Right, who is the crumb thrower?” but no one squealed. Shopkeeper. Mary’s uncle. James, had a shop beside the house and Cassie was the shop girl, and she took over the shop from James. When Mary left school and Cassie got married it was Mary who became the boss. The shop was a little distance from the dwelling house and when customers arrived they used to whistle or shout for Mary to come and open up for them and of course this could happen any time of the day or night. She might be just sitting down to her dinner or tea when someone would arrive or, worse still, she might be on her way to bed when someone would need something from the shop and ‘you could not refuse’. James had set the standards and his tradition lived on. He was a great friend in time of need to his customers and that tradition too had to be maintained. Breadline. Everything that was needed in a country area was available in the shop. Meal and flour were very important as most homes baked their own bread and for porridge and animal feeding it was vital to keep a plentiful supply in stock. But loaves of bread were bought and Pat Lavery RIP from Emyvale was the breadman. He delivered fresh loaves to the shop twice weekly and was very reliable. Hail, rain or snow, Pat would arrive with his horse and breadcart. For the customers a loaf of bread cost 5 pennies. As there were no fridges, everything was sold fresh including home cured bacon at ten pence a half-pound. There was a great flavour from the bacon in those days – something which is missing in many foods today because of the modern processing methods, Mary says. Tobacco and cigarettes were in stock. It cost 6d (old pennies) for a packet of Players, but Mary had to keep a good supply of 2d Woodbines as well. Eggs. Most of the houses in the neighbourhood kept hens for their daily eggs but many saved the eggs to take to the shop as a ‘trade- in’for other groceries. Mary would buy the eggs from them and in turn she would sell them to the hatchery in Monaghan. This ensured that the farmers had a steady form of income to buy essentials for the house. Oil well. As there was no electricity in the area all the houses were lit using paraffin lamps but later the Tilley was in common use. For work outside, during the dark winter months, the farmers had hurricane-lamps, again using paraffin. Many homes had the Tibby lamp sitting on the back-stone and of course the little Sacred Heart lamp, which was constantly burning. To meet the need Mary sold paraffin oil. Eddie Maguire used draw the oil from Monaghan, He had a “tanker” pulled by two horses and he kept the shop tank filled. Oil cost 4d a quarter gallon or one shilling and four pence for a gallon. The other supplies for the shop were usually bought in Pattons in Monaghan. They had a lorry which made regular deliveries but at times Mary, or her brother Mick, would go to town in the pony and trap and take home anything that was urgently required. Multi-Purpose. The shop was a gathering place as well as a business. At night crowds of neighbours gathered into the shop for card games. These were played on the counter and it was here that Mary learned the art of 45. Jimmy McKenna, Owenie Treanor, Pat Kelly, the McCarrons and others were regulars. While the games were in progress, yarns were being told and the news of the area exchanged. However, on occasions, things hotted up, especially when there was money or a rooster at stake. One player was noted for a “fly move”. He used complain at a certain point that his leg was sleeping or his feet were cold and he could get up and walk about and stamp his feet but everyone knew that he was just doing this with the hope that he might get a glance at the cards held in some of the other players hands and so help himself to a few tricks. But the others soon realised his motives and held their cards close to their chests to thwart him. Musician. Mary’s brother Mick began learning to play the fiddle and at the age of 8 years she decided to go with him to the classes. They went to Barry Bogue in Emyvale. He was a great musician and lived where Peter McMahon lives now. He taught them how to read music and how to play and Mary was very quick to pick it up. She had such a good ear for music that if she heard a tune once she could lift the fiddle and play it. Her brother, Packie, was excellent on the flute and so music played a big part in her leisure time activity. They used to visit other houses where traditional music was played and the group of them would play all night and into the early hours of the morning. There were a number of such houses and they took it in turn to host the gathering. Peter McKenna (the Postman) and his brother Pat were great fiddlers and Pete has graced many a stage and entertained many a gathering over the years and is still going strong. Owenie Treanor was another great, as was Hugh McKenna (Tina O’Neill’s father). Mary and her friends were invited to play at parties, house dances and weddings. In 1944 when Mick and Tina O’Neill were married, Mary played at the wedding reception and on Friday 11th February 1994 when they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Mary was there in Truagh Parish Hall and thrilled the gathering with her playing again. Keepers House. While Mary was working in the shop, a neighbour, Peter McKenna from Killacorn, was a regular customer and fell in love with the shop girl. They were married in Carrickroe in 1933 and moved into Lisgrew where they set up home. Their house had formerly been a ‘Keepers House’ on the Moutray estate and the lands attached to it used belong to Moutray. On this land Peter and Mary earned their living and raised a family of nine: Una (Watterson, Mulladermot); Mary (Murray, Monaghan); Patsy (London); Oliver (Oxford); Phyllis (Connolly, Ballybay); Bernadette (Duffy, Bray); Michael (Lisgrew); Enda (Carrigans) and Patricia (McKenna, Bragan). Peter was fond of the music too and played side drums in the Ballyoisin Flute Band. He loved company and was an avid card player. He held many session in the house when they played for roasts of meat or bottles of whiskey. On nights, when there were no organised games, he practised his children, especially Michael, Enda and Patricia in the tricks of 45, as they played on a chair in front of a good fire. He would play cards seven nights a week. Fruit Farm. But during the day there was work to be done and it was all hands on deck. Mary spent many a day out working in the fields and one of the children in a pram by her side. There were a few calves to be fed and a couple of cows to be milked plus all the other chores around a farm house. To supplement the income they had a fruit farm for a number of years. They grew strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants. These were picked and sold to shops and the extra few bob came in handy. During the picking season it often meant a 6am start and work would continue until all the ripe fruit was picked. Local children were brought in to help out during the holidays. Looking back Mary believes that the Summers then were better, more sun and warmer although one year they had to draw straw to cover the strawberries in the field to protect them from the frost! Turkey Time. Mary did the shopping and this was done in McGuinness’s shop on the broad road, later belonging to Mick McKenna from Scotland but now closed, and her main weekly supplies were purchased in Neeson’s on Main Street, Emyvale. Most of her travelling was done on bicycle and she had no difficulty cycling to Bragan to cut and save the year’s supply of turf. Like many other farmers there were always a few dozen turkeys reared free-range to have for the Christmas market. This brought in some extra cash for the Christmas season. At one time the turkey market was in Charlie McCluskey’s yard, now Gilbrides, and live birds were brought there, killed, weighed and plucked and so much per pound paid. Mary’s son, Mickey, brought 27 turkeys in one year by pram. He made the three trips from home to the yard with nine live turkeys in the pram each time and as he did many times coming from the village – he would stop in to Mrs. Ascots to hear some records played on her gramophone. Best Wishes. Husband Peter died in 1968 and Mary has carried on. She is in great form and attends the Golden Age Club in Emyvale Leisure Centre every Thursday and enjoys the company. She still plays the fiddle any chance she gets and loves listening to others. We wish her many, many more years of health to enjoy life and reap the rewards of her hard work. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer.
All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Mary McKenna, Lisgrew. We can all talk about inflation and the devaluation of money, we can compare prices of today and yesterday, but Mary McKenna from Lisgrew, Emyvale, with her memories as a shopkeeper in the 1930’s can quote prices that would make one jealous. However she can soon put the cost of living in context and balance the cheap goods against the hard work which soon removes the attractiveness. Mary was the daughter of Michael Treanor, a farmer in Killacorn. Her mother was Ann Jane, nee Treanor, from Raflaconny. She had one sister Cassie, who was married to Mr. McCabe, the Tydavnet teacher. Her brothers, Packie, Owenie, Mick and Jimmy have all gone to their eternal rewards. Packie is interred in America, the others rest in Carrickroe. School. As a young girl Mary attended Carrickroe National School. Master Meehan and Miss McDonald were the teachers. She loved school and looks back with joy on those days when she walked to and from the old schoolhouse with the McCarrons from Killacorn – Peter, Mick, Anna, and Mary Catherine. She had a great interest in her subjects in the classroom and remembers Master Meehan making them do their exercises – not just written ones but physical exercise as well. During bad weather he used make the class march in time around the room. One day as they were marching a ‘smart boy’ in the class threw a piece of bread at the Master. He stopped the march and said –“Right, who is the crumb thrower?” but no one squealed. Shopkeeper. Mary’s uncle. James, had a shop beside the house and Cassie was the shop girl, and she took over the shop from James. When Mary left school and Cassie got married it was Mary who became the boss. The shop was a little distance from the dwelling house and when customers arrived they used to whistle or shout for Mary to come and open up for them and of course this could happen any time of the day or night. She might be just sitting down to her dinner or tea when someone would arrive or, worse still, she might be on her way to bed when someone would need something from the shop and ‘you could not refuse’. James had set the standards and his tradition lived on. He was a great friend in time of need to his customers and that tradition too had to be maintained. Breadline. Everything that was needed in a country area was available in the shop. Meal and flour were very important as most homes baked their own bread and for porridge and animal feeding it was vital to keep a plentiful supply in stock. But loaves of bread were bought and Pat Lavery RIP from Emyvale was the breadman. He delivered fresh loaves to the shop twice weekly and was very reliable. Hail, rain or snow, Pat would arrive with his horse and breadcart. For the customers a loaf of bread cost 5 pennies. As there were no fridges, everything was sold fresh including home cured bacon at ten pence a half-pound. There was a great flavour from the bacon in those days – something which is missing in many foods today because of the modern processing methods, Mary says. Tobacco and cigarettes were in stock. It cost 6d (old pennies) for a packet of Players, but Mary had to keep a good supply of 2d Woodbines as well. Eggs. Most of the houses in the neighbourhood kept hens for their daily eggs but many saved the eggs to take to the shop as a ‘trade-in’for other groceries. Mary would buy the eggs from them and in turn she would sell them to the hatchery in Monaghan. This ensured that the farmers had a steady form of income to buy essentials for the house. Oil well. As there was no electricity in the area all the houses were lit using paraffin lamps but later the Tilley was in common use. For work outside, during the dark winter months, the farmers had hurricane-lamps, again using paraffin. Many homes had the Tibby lamp sitting on the back-stone and of course the little Sacred Heart lamp, which was constantly burning. To meet the need Mary sold paraffin oil. Eddie Maguire used draw the oil from Monaghan, He had a “tanker” pulled by two horses and he kept the shop tank filled. Oil cost 4d a quarter gallon or one shilling and four pence for a gallon. The other supplies for the shop were usually bought in Pattons in Monaghan. They had a lorry which made regular deliveries but at times Mary, or her brother Mick, would go to town in the pony and trap and take home anything that was urgently required. Multi-Purpose. The shop was a gathering place as well as a business. At night crowds of neighbours gathered into the shop for card games. These were played on the counter and it was here that Mary learned the art of 45. Jimmy McKenna, Owenie Treanor, Pat Kelly, the McCarrons and others were regulars. While the games were in progress, yarns were being told and the news of the area exchanged. However, on occasions, things hotted up, especially when there was money or a rooster at stake. One player was noted for a “fly move”. He used complain at a certain point that his leg was sleeping or his feet were cold and he could get up and walk about and stamp his feet but everyone knew that he was just doing this with the hope that he might get a glance at the cards held in some of the other players hands and so help himself to a few tricks. But the others soon realised his motives and held their cards close to their chests to thwart him. Musician. Mary’s brother Mick began learning to play the fiddle and at the age of 8 years she decided to go with him to the classes. They went to Barry Bogue in Emyvale. He was a great musician and lived where Peter McMahon lives now. He taught them how to read music and how to play and Mary was very quick to pick it up. She had such a good ear for music that if she heard a tune once she could lift the fiddle and play it. Her brother, Packie, was excellent on the flute and so music played a big part in her leisure time activity. They used to visit other houses where traditional music was played and the group of them would play all night and into the early hours of the morning. There were a number of such houses and they took it in turn to host the gathering. Peter McKenna (the Postman) and his brother Pat were great fiddlers and Pete has graced many a stage and entertained many a gathering over the years and is still going strong. Owenie Treanor was another great, as was Hugh McKenna (Tina O’Neill’s father). Mary and her friends were invited to play at parties, house dances and weddings. In 1944 when Mick and Tina O’Neill were married, Mary played at the wedding reception and on Friday 11th February 1994 when they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Mary was there in Truagh Parish Hall and thrilled the gathering with her playing again. Keepers House. While Mary was working in the shop, a neighbour, Peter McKenna from Killacorn, was a regular customer and fell in love with the shop girl. They were married in Carrickroe in 1933 and moved into Lisgrew where they set up home. Their house had formerly been a ‘Keepers House’ on the Moutray estate and the lands attached to it used belong to Moutray. On this land Peter and Mary earned their living and raised a family of nine: Una (Watterson, Mulladermot); Mary (Murray, Monaghan); Patsy (London); Oliver (Oxford); Phyllis (Connolly, Ballybay); Bernadette (Duffy, Bray); Michael (Lisgrew); Enda (Carrigans) and Patricia (McKenna, Bragan). Peter was fond of the music too and played side drums in the Ballyoisin Flute Band. He loved company and was an avid card player. He held many session in the house when they played for roasts of meat or bottles of whiskey. On nights, when there were no organised games, he practised his children, especially Michael, Enda and Patricia in the tricks of 45, as they played on a chair in front of a good fire. He would play cards seven nights a week. Fruit Farm. But during the day there was work to be done and it was all hands on deck. Mary spent many a day out working in the fields and one of the children in a pram by her side. There were a few calves to be fed and a couple of cows to be milked plus all the other chores around a farm house. To supplement the income they had a fruit farm for a number of years. They grew strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants. These were picked and sold to shops and the extra few bob came in handy. During the picking season it often meant a 6am start and work would continue until all the ripe fruit was picked. Local children were brought in to help out during the holidays. Looking back Mary believes that the Summers then were better, more sun and warmer although one year they had to draw straw to cover the strawberries in the field to protect them from the frost! Turkey Time. Mary did the shopping and this was done in McGuinness’s shop on the broad road, later belonging to Mick McKenna from Scotland but now closed, and her main weekly supplies were purchased in Neeson’s on Main Street, Emyvale. Most of her travelling was done on bicycle and she had no difficulty cycling to Bragan to cut and save the year’s supply of turf. Like many other farmers there were always a few dozen turkeys reared free-range to have for the Christmas market. This brought in some extra cash for the Christmas season. At one time the turkey market was in Charlie McCluskey’s yard, now Gilbrides, and live birds were brought there, killed, weighed and plucked and so much per pound paid. Mary’s son, Mickey, brought 27 turkeys in one year by pram. He made the three trips from home to the yard with nine live turkeys in the pram each time and as he did many times coming from the village – he would stop in to Mrs. Ascots to hear some records played on her gramophone. Best Wishes. Husband Peter died in 1968 and Mary has carried on. She is in great form and attends the Golden Age Club in Emyvale Leisure Centre every Thursday and enjoys the company. She still plays the fiddle any chance she gets and loves listening to others. We wish her many, many more years of health to enjoy life and reap the rewards of her hard work. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer.