All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Face to Face with the Topley Brothers. Life can be full of surprises and, when our daughter, Edelle, stopped on a street in Belfast to help two gentlemen carry their shopping into their house, the intriguing links she would uncover were amazing and remarkable. Her ‘good deed’ done, they invited her in for tea and then asked her about her origins. When she said that she was from Emyvale, the two gentlemen laughed and stated that they were from Glaslough. They told her the brief outline of their lives, which she then conveyed to me and I just had to meet and hear this intriguing story. Visits to Joyce and Norman Topley followed and it would take a book to relay the tale in its fullness but a synopsis will have to suffice here. Railway Danger. Joyce Topley is in his 96th year, while brother, Norman, is in his 95th year. Both men are in excellent health and would shame younger people with their mental capacity, zeal for life and working knowledge of modern technology. Norman is still driving about in his car and mobile phones and computers hold no fears for either gentleman. Indeed it is no wonder that both men reached ‘top positions’ in their working lives and the hours pass as minutes as they roll back the years and recall the events of their years in Glaslough. Their father, William Joyce Topley, worked on the railways and in 1917 he was appointed Stationmaster of Glaslough Railway station. A house was provided beside the station and so the family moved there. This was a busy station with trains passing up and down to Belfast and Clones and beyond. Indeed during its construction in the mid 1800’s the line between Armagh and Monaghan was noted by Michelle McGoff-McCann in her book, Melancholy Madness, as having experienced the most deaths due to work related accidents. Even after construction the line witnessed a number of deaths and serious injuries both to workers and people who lived close by. One such incident, again described by Michelle McGoff-McCann, was when William Heartly died as a result of injuries received when he was hit by a train while trying to open the gates at Scot’s Crossing. The Signal man at the crossing, a Samuel Eivers, was ill that night and in the early morning he went to Heartly’s house to get warm. The clock there was 15 minutes slow and he misjudged the time for the arrival of the train at 8.40a.m. William heard the train coming and ran to open the gates but was caught by the train and died three hours later. Scot’s Crossing was on the back road at Glaslough near Flack’s and McKenna’s today. Joyce’s maternal grandfather, a William Taggart, also worked on the railways and one day lost his toes when a wagon ran over them on the track. While he was recovering his wife went to headquarters in Dublin and she was offered either compensation or a ‘job for life’ for her husband. She accepted the latter and he became stationmaster at Essexford, near Carrickmacross, - a job he retained until his death at the age of 81 in 1922. Glaslough. Life in Glaslough for the Joyce family was idyllic and at times exciting. The Leslies lived in the Castle nearby and this would bring some famous people through the station, as they came to visit the Leslie family. These included members of the aristocracy, and on occasion, Winston Churchill. Joyce and Norman attended the local primary school and then the Model school in Monaghan. Both were destined to work on the railways and so they moved to Belfast, paying very regular visits home. They remember many events of those days. They recall the Black and Tans, the change over to the Irish Government and the difficulties during the civil war. There was little work at the time and many emigrated from the area. However they would claim that the Railways were extremely important to rural Ireland in that it brought civilisation and progress to an area. Castle Leslie had running water, pumped by a diesel engine from the Lake through a series of filters to the castle. The Topleys also enjoyed the luxury of running water and flush toilets as the Railway Company had plumbed the station, the station house and the cattle pens in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The water was drawn from a well that never ran dry. It was hand pumped to reservoir tanks each day as required. It was one of the duties of porter to ensure there was sufficient water available. Their station house was heated by coal fires in a big Stanley range. The coal was bought in Belfast and came in a train wagon to Glaslough. It was all hands on deck then to unload the coal and store it in a Coal shed. It was then carried by bucket up to the house. The Leslies had electric light, produced with their own generator and batteries. For the station house it was tilley lamps inside and hurricane wick lamps outside. In recent times they visited their old station house and it has been transformed and modernised inside. The local people. Both men can recall vividly the many workers at the station and characters from the area. The one person who springs up in conversation most regularly is Jimmy Aughey. He worked on the railway and they describe him as a great worker and a great friend and there was plenty of laughter when Jimmy was about. They gave many examples of the happy times with Jimmy. They remember Joe Kirk, the signalman; Owenie McKenna, the farmer; George Wilson, the Postmaster in Glaslough; Louis Coulter; Alex Stewart; The Taylor family; Jack Donaldson, who used organise social events at the house; Bertie Gibson, a leading light in the Church of Ireland; Dr. Leonard, who held the dispensary in Glaslough; Sgt. Bell in Glaslough; Sam Harvey and family, who sold out and went to Canada; Rev John Richie and Dr. Davidson; Tommy Cloughan and Billy Hamilton, who worked on the Railway; Mickey Duffy, Owenie Hamill and Billy Boyle, all railway men; Master O’Hanlon and Master Hughes; the Widow McMahon; Johnny and Minnie McKenna from Emy; The Ambersons from Emyvale Post Office; Mrs. Atkinson the teacher and organist; McMurrough’s lodging house where custom men and post men like Terry Reilly stayed; Barney Mulrew; The Todds and the Cargills; and of course the Leslie family, especially Sir Shane, who was a very good friend to the family. Years later Joyce was dining in a restaurant in Dublin and a man came up and asked him if he were ‘Mr. Topley’ to which he answered ‘yes’. It turned out to be a son of Owenie McKenna. Guards and Custom men. They can remember the first Custom-man arriving in Glaslough in 1923. His name was Baker and he had to work for some time in his own clothes as the uniform was not available. After him there was Hennessey and Deveraux and others. One man featured quite a lot in their lives and he was Tom Clerkin. When the Free State took over he was in charge of the army in the area and one of his jobs was to protect the station. One night, when an attack was expected, they were setting up a cordon round the station and Mr. Topley informed him that he would be moving about during the night to attend a cow that was about to calf. Tom Clerkin called two soldiers and ordered them to sit with the cow so that Mr. Topley could sleep in his bed. Some time afterwards Tom joined the Garda Siochana and was posted to Dundalk. When Norman or Joyce was going through there they often met and had a chat. When he retired from the Garda, Tom was appointed Security man on the Dundalk Railway Works and once again the Topleys met with him on regular occasions. Tom was married to one of the Corrigans from Emy. Smuggling was big in those days and train journeys were used to good effect. One man bought a return ticket one day for himself and one for the bicycle from Glaslough to Tynan. Off he went and was back on the next train. Everyone wondered what he was up to but Jimmy Aughey knew that he took the bike to Tynan to get new tyres and no one noticed them on the way back. Cattle, sheep and pigs were smuggled at various times and sugar, butter, razor blades and many other commodities were smuggled in various guises. Tynan, which is exactly 4 miles of line from Glaslough, was the last stop before the train crossed the border. It was there that the custom men searched the train. The train was on its way to Glaslough one day but was held up for quite a while at Tynan, when a lady stuck her head out the window and shouted at the train guard – ‘what is holding up this train?’ to which the guard replied – ‘shout up or I’ll tell the customs what you are sitting on’! There is also the story, though never verified, of the man who constantly hitched a lift, illegally, on the train from Glaslough to Monaghan but always jumped off before arriving in Monaghan. Once when he jumped he was crossing a bridge and was killed. His name was Sam and that is how ‘Sam’s Bridge’ got its name. It was said that they discovered afterwards that he was stealing a pig from the train every time he hitched a lift – he threw the pig off and then jumped off himself. Norman on the Railway. There have been many changes in Glaslough since those days and yet it has remained the same. Dwellers may change but some things never change. Norman was steadily rising through the ranks in the Railway. His ability was recognised and promotions came. He was in Clones on the clerical staff in 1933 when the strike happened and he was laid off. Meanwhile Joyce was in Dundalk and he also was paid off. The Railways continued to provide a skeleton service during the 16 weeks of the strike using ‘scab labour’ and this turned out to be difficult for the original workers to go back to work and have to work along side the ‘scabs’. Some men did not go back. Norman had a great interest in the Operating Office and was then appointed to Timetables in the Belfast Office. This was a tricky business to get everything co-ordinated but more so when there was double summer time and you had Newry on one time and Dundalk at another time - the train could be in Dundalk before it even left Belfast!! He also spent time in Dublin and Navan before a stint in Monaghan. For the first couple of nights he stayed in Henry’s Hotel in the Diamond (where the AIB Bank is now), which was owned by a family from Annaghreagh. One of their daughters was married to a Patton and another to a McClean. He enjoyed Monaghan but found the Clones people very friendly. Norman continued his rise and went on from being an Inspector to eventually ending up in Belfast as Chief Controller of Operations with Northern Ireland Railways, a post he held until he retired after 49 years work on the railways. Stationmaster Joyce. Meanwhile Joyce was also moving about and getting promotion and ended as Operations Superintendent with Northern Ireland Railways with Ulster Transport Authority. In December 1938 their father retired as Stationmaster in Glaslough and this meant that they would have to give up the house. Joyce applied and got the job and was promoted to stationmaster for the first time on an annual salary of £180 per annum. He could now live with his parents in the tithed house. However his chief paid him a visit one day and convinced him that there was better in store for him if he moved to Belfast, which he did in 1943, bringing his parents with him back to the city. Their mother passed away at the age of 82 and their father at the age of 81. Joyce’s departure from Glaslough was recognised by the local people, who held the Topley family in very high esteem. There was a social to mark the occasion and it was held in Mullaghpike Hall on Friday, April 30th 1943 . There was tea and cakes followed by a recitation on ‘The Death of the Clogher Valley Railways’, which was composed by the then manager of the Ulster Bank in Clogher, called Mr. E. O’Byrne. The poem was recited by Mr. Ross and Mr. Kirk and reportedly brought the house down. Recitations followed from Ms. Mitchell, and Ms. Mavitty and songs by Canon Keane. Ms. Violet Connolly, who was the maid in the Rectory, composed a special poem to recognise Joyce’s contribution to the area and it was as follows: Departure of a Friend: The reason why we have met tonight, I am sorry for to tell, Is to say farewell to a faithful friend, I’m sure you all know well. His name is Mr Topley and he is known far and near, By his willing hand and his kindly word of cheer. The people they shall miss him, I think I hear them cry, But they will never miss the water till the well runs dry. We often said we’d miss him, these words will sure come true. His equal in this world of ours, they are but very few. If all the world was ours to give, we’d give it all and more, If we could keep this faithful friend with us for ever more. But now alas we say farewell to this friend so kind and true, And wish him every blessing in that land he is going to. And when he is gone this will be the chat We will never replace him while pussy’s a cat. The accompanist was Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Johnston had given the loan of her piano. MBE. Many other memories were recalled by the Topley brothers, like the first night of the Blitz in Belfast when they stood on Queens Bridge watching the bombs and the guns firing back. The remembered their visits to the station in Coalisland and to Burn’s sand quarry and the coal mines. They heard a story that a couple of wagons of coal had to be taken from Belfast to Coalisland for the official opening of the mines there but they do not think this is true. They also visited Dungannon on numerous occasions. Before he retired Joyce received an MBE for his services to the Railway and that was a great and proud day for him, when he was presented with his award in the Palace. He was nominated by Myles Humphries, Mayor of Belfast. Then when he retired he was approached by his former chief, Hugh Waring, to join the Board of the Oaklee Housing Association. He spent 25 years with the Association and retired from that in 2007. There was a presentation to him for his services there and a terrace of houses in Coleraine has been named after him. The purpose of the association is to provide housing for people who meet certain criteria and the latest project completed is in Monaghan town, which was officially opened in June 2008. Very Busy men. One would think that at 96 and 95 both men would have little to do or be capable of doing much but not so with Norman and Joyce. Their days are full and much time is spent keeping track of all their friends and indeed making new acquaintances. Recently they were introduced to a Mr. Jack Storey, who came from Scotstown in Monaghan and married to a Ms. Johnston from Seveagh, Glaslough. They live on the Hollyrood Road and have many contacts all over the world through the internet and have assisted many in tracing family trees. They are in contact with Jim Donaghy, a former teacher, who changed to the transport business and is a real railway enthusiast. They can relate the story of the sale of New Mills by Emily Todd, who married Todd from Terrycalfe, and moved in to the Pillar House. She was Hoey from the Dyan and her brother, Andrew, who was making boxes for the linen trade, took the daughters, Emily and Eileen, to live on the Antrim Road in Belfast. They tell of the Cargills and Dolly who married Maine, whose daughter became the famous and much loved Elizabeth Maine in the Royal Hospital. Joyce also told me of the Amberson lady who ran the Post Office in Emyvale. She married Bob Wright and their son, Robert, now a retired Church of Ireland rector, who calls with them regularly. They keep in contact with Larry Conlon, from Ardee, who is very interested in history. They also visit the Coulter family at Portinaghy, and were very saddened by Roy’s death recently. They have kept up friendship with Danny Aughey, son of the late Jimmy, and in one way or another they continue to keep abreast with happenings and people in the Glaslough and Monaghan areas. Joyce tells of a trip he took to England and a visit to a church in Brixham, where he came across a tablet referring to people from Faulkland, near Glaslough. Henry Francis Lyte, who composed the hymn, ‘Abide with Me’, was a rector there. He was very ill, though still in his 50’s, and two weeks after he wrote this hymn he headed for the warm climate of Europe but died at Nice and is buried there. He was married to Anne Maxwell, daughter of Reverend William Maxwell of Faulkland, and she and other members of her family are buried at Brixham. Return trip. Monaghan County Museum is running an Exhibition on the Great Northern Railway at the moment and they have extended an invitation to Joyce and Norma to visit the exhibition. That is taking place on Tuesday next, September 23rd at 12 noon and should be a very interesting occasion as both share their experiences with like minds. They will also visit the new Housing Project in the town and no doubt take pleasure from the fact that they had an input to that development. It has been our pleasure to meet them and we are looking forward to further stories. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer. But the story does not end there. The boys came to Monaghan and I accompanied them around the various places they wanted to visit. Unfortunately Danny was not in Monaghan that day and they would have loved a chat with him but he did call with them in Belfast regularly. We visited the Rowantree Court Housing complex that Oaklee Housing built up beside the Hospital on the former McCaldin site. It was officially opened by Margaret Conlon TD in June 2008. Joyce at the age of 96 was the Treasurer of Oaklee and was a constant and cherished worker for them. When he retired there was a big presentation afternoon in his honour in Belfast and he invited me along as his guest. On a regular basis he would post to me scans of various documents relating to the various churches around Emyvale and Glaslough and other interesting pieces. All my interviews with the brothers were chats at which I scribbled notes. I then decided to record both of them with their stories and they agreed. I arranged the first session for the 18th December 2009 and when I arrived Norman had gone to town to do the Christmas shopping. Since I wanted to record them individually and then together Joyce agreed to begin when I arrived. Again I was amazed at his memory for exact dates and names of people. Joyce continued telling more stories of his time in Glaslough and his life in Belfast, his MBE presentation and other great moments in his life. After about an hour Norman arrived back and wanted to know what was going on and was I not going to record him. I told him he was next and then the two of them together. Norman asked me to give him a date when I would record him and it had to be an exact date so I gave him a certain day in January 2010 and he was happy with that. I did go to Belfast on that day but not to record Norman but to attend his funeral to Roselaun cemetery. Despite his long life, and perhaps because of it, there was a great sadness among his many friends who attended and Joyce never really recovered from that day. He lost interest in many things and though we continued to meet and chat I never recorded another word. He then took ill and spent time in hospital and passed away in August 2012. May they both Rest in Peace.
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1. Their father at Glaslough Station 2. Heading for the 12th July 3. Joyce with his mother 4. Joyce and Norman pictured in the Musem with myself and Museum Curator, Liam Bradley They donated some of articles from Glaslough to the Museum. 5. Pictured with a cherished picture of Glaslough station. 6. Pictured outside Rowantree Court with Ian, the CEO of Oaklee Trust, and Jim their good friend and driver. 7. The two seated in the Hall way of Rowantree Court building and feeling very proud for being part of it.
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Face to Face with the Topley Brothers. Life can be full of surprises and, when our daughter, Edelle, stopped on a street in Belfast to help two gentlemen carry their shopping into their house, the intriguing links she would uncover were amazing and remarkable. Her ‘good deed’ done, they invited her in for tea and then asked her about her origins. When she said that she was from Emyvale, the two gentlemen laughed and stated that they were from Glaslough. They told her the brief outline of their lives, which she then conveyed to me and I just had to meet and hear this intriguing story. Visits to Joyce and Norman Topley followed and it would take a book to relay the tale in its fullness but a synopsis will have to suffice here. Railway Danger. Joyce Topley is in his 96th year, while brother, Norman, is in his 95th year. Both men are in excellent health and would shame younger people with their mental capacity, zeal for life and working knowledge of modern technology. Norman is still driving about in his car and mobile phones and computers hold no fears for either gentleman. Indeed it is no wonder that both men reached ‘top positions’ in their working lives and the hours pass as minutes as they roll back the years and recall the events of their years in Glaslough. Their father, William Joyce Topley, worked on the railways and in 1917 he was appointed Stationmaster of Glaslough Railway station. A house was provided beside the station and so the family moved there. This was a busy station with trains passing up and down to Belfast and Clones and beyond. Indeed during its construction in the mid 1800’s the line between Armagh and Monaghan was noted by Michelle McGoff-McCann in her book, Melancholy Madness, as having experienced the most deaths due to work related accidents. Even after construction the line witnessed a number of deaths and serious injuries both to workers and people who lived close by. One such incident, again described by Michelle McGoff-McCann, was when William Heartly died as a result of injuries received when he was hit by a train while trying to open the gates at Scot’s Crossing. The Signal man at the crossing, a Samuel Eivers, was ill that night and in the early morning he went to Heartly’s house to get warm. The clock there was 15 minutes slow and he misjudged the time for the arrival of the train at 8.40a.m. William heard the train coming and ran to open the gates but was caught by the train and died three hours later. Scot’s Crossing was on the back road at Glaslough near Flack’s and McKenna’s today. Joyce’s maternal grandfather, a William Taggart, also worked on the railways and one day lost his toes when a wagon ran over them on the track. While he was recovering his wife went to headquarters in Dublin and she was offered either compensation or a ‘job for life’ for her husband. She accepted the latter and he became stationmaster at Essexford, near Carrickmacross, - a job he retained until his death at the age of 81 in 1922. Glaslough. Life in Glaslough for the Joyce family was idyllic and at times exciting. The Leslies lived in the Castle nearby and this would bring some famous people through the station, as they came to visit the Leslie family. These included members of the aristocracy, and on occasion, Winston Churchill. Joyce and Norman attended the local primary school and then the Model school in Monaghan. Both were destined to work on the railways and so they moved to Belfast, paying very regular visits home. They remember many events of those days. They recall the Black and Tans, the change over to the Irish Government and the difficulties during the civil war. There was little work at the time and many emigrated from the area. However they would claim that the Railways were extremely important to rural Ireland in that it brought civilisation and progress to an area. Castle Leslie had running water, pumped by a diesel engine from the Lake through a series of filters to the castle. The Topleys also enjoyed the luxury of running water and flush toilets as the Railway Company had plumbed the station, the station house and the cattle pens in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The water was drawn from a well that never ran dry. It was hand pumped to reservoir tanks each day as required. It was one of the duties of porter to ensure there was sufficient water available. Their station house was heated by coal fires in a big Stanley range. The coal was bought in Belfast and came in a train wagon to Glaslough. It was all hands on deck then to unload the coal and store it in a Coal shed. It was then carried by bucket up to the house. The Leslies had electric light, produced with their own generator and batteries. For the station house it was tilley lamps inside and hurricane wick lamps outside. In recent times they visited their old station house and it has been transformed and modernised inside. The local people. Both men can recall vividly the many workers at the station and characters from the area. The one person who springs up in conversation most regularly is Jimmy Aughey. He worked on the railway and they describe him as a great worker and a great friend and there was plenty of laughter when Jimmy was about. They gave many examples of the happy times with Jimmy. They remember Joe Kirk, the signalman; Owenie McKenna, the farmer; George Wilson, the Postmaster in Glaslough; Louis Coulter; Alex Stewart; The Taylor family; Jack Donaldson, who used organise social events at the house; Bertie Gibson, a leading light in the Church of Ireland; Dr. Leonard, who held the dispensary in Glaslough; Sgt. Bell in Glaslough; Sam Harvey and family, who sold out and went to Canada; Rev John Richie and Dr. Davidson; Tommy Cloughan and Billy Hamilton, who worked on the Railway; Mickey Duffy, Owenie Hamill and Billy Boyle, all railway men; Master O’Hanlon and Master Hughes; the Widow McMahon; Johnny and Minnie McKenna from Emy; The Ambersons from Emyvale Post Office; Mrs. Atkinson the teacher and organist; McMurrough’s lodging house where custom men and post men like Terry Reilly stayed; Barney Mulrew; The Todds and the Cargills; and of course the Leslie family, especially Sir Shane, who was a very good friend to the family. Years later Joyce was dining in a restaurant in Dublin and a man came up and asked him if he were ‘Mr. Topley’ to which he answered ‘yes’. It turned out to be a son of Owenie McKenna. Guards and Custom men. They can remember the first Custom-man arriving in Glaslough in 1923. His name was Baker and he had to work for some time in his own clothes as the uniform was not available. After him there was Hennessey and Deveraux and others. One man featured quite a lot in their lives and he was Tom Clerkin. When the Free State took over he was in charge of the army in the area and one of his jobs was to protect the station. One night, when an attack was expected, they were setting up a cordon round the station and Mr. Topley informed him that he would be moving about during the night to attend a cow that was about to calf. Tom Clerkin called two soldiers and ordered them to sit with the cow so that Mr. Topley could sleep in his bed. Some time afterwards Tom joined the Garda Siochana and was posted to Dundalk. When Norman or Joyce was going through there they often met and had a chat. When he retired from the Garda, Tom was appointed Security man on the Dundalk Railway Works and once again the Topleys met with him on regular occasions. Tom was married to one of the Corrigans from Emy. Smuggling was big in those days and train journeys were used to good effect. One man bought a return ticket one day for himself and one for the bicycle from Glaslough to Tynan. Off he went and was back on the next train. Everyone wondered what he was up to but Jimmy Aughey knew that he took the bike to Tynan to get new tyres and no one noticed them on the way back. Cattle, sheep and pigs were smuggled at various times and sugar, butter, razor blades and many other commodities were smuggled in various guises. Tynan, which is exactly 4 miles of line from Glaslough, was the last stop before the train crossed the border. It was there that the custom men searched the train. The train was on its way to Glaslough one day but was held up for quite a while at Tynan, when a lady stuck her head out the window and shouted at the train guard – ‘what is holding up this train?’ to which the guard replied – ‘shout up or I’ll tell the customs what you are sitting on’! There is also the story, though never verified, of the man who constantly hitched a lift, illegally, on the train from Glaslough to Monaghan but always jumped off before arriving in Monaghan. Once when he jumped he was crossing a bridge and was killed. His name was Sam and that is how ‘Sam’s Bridge’ got its name. It was said that they discovered afterwards that he was stealing a pig from the train every time he hitched a lift – he threw the pig off and then jumped off himself. Norman on the Railway. There have been many changes in Glaslough since those days and yet it has remained the same. Dwellers may change but some things never change. Norman was steadily rising through the ranks in the Railway. His ability was recognised and promotions came. He was in Clones on the clerical staff in 1933 when the strike happened and he was laid off. Meanwhile Joyce was in Dundalk and he also was paid off. The Railways continued to provide a skeleton service during the 16 weeks of the strike using ‘scab labour’ and this turned out to be difficult for the original workers to go back to work and have to work along side the ‘scabs’. Some men did not go back. Norman had a great interest in the Operating Office and was then appointed to Timetables in the Belfast Office. This was a tricky business to get everything co-ordinated but more so when there was double summer time and you had Newry on one time and Dundalk at another time - the train could be in Dundalk before it even left Belfast!! He also spent time in Dublin and Navan before a stint in Monaghan. For the first couple of nights he stayed in Henry’s Hotel in the Diamond (where the AIB Bank is now), which was owned by a family from Annaghreagh. One of their daughters was married to a Patton and another to a McClean. He enjoyed Monaghan but found the Clones people very friendly. Norman continued his rise and went on from being an Inspector to eventually ending up in Belfast as Chief Controller of Operations with Northern Ireland Railways, a post he held until he retired after 49 years work on the railways. Stationmaster Joyce. Meanwhile Joyce was also moving about and getting promotion and ended as Operations Superintendent with Northern Ireland Railways with Ulster Transport Authority. In December 1938 their father retired as Stationmaster in Glaslough and this meant that they would have to give up the house. Joyce applied and got the job and was promoted to stationmaster for the first time on an annual salary of £180 per annum. He could now live with his parents in the tithed house. However his chief paid him a visit one day and convinced him that there was better in store for him if he moved to Belfast, which he did in 1943, bringing his parents with him back to the city. Their mother passed away at the age of 82 and their father at the age of 81. Joyce’s departure from Glaslough was recognised by the local people, who held the Topley family in very high esteem. There was a social to mark the occasion and it was held in Mullaghpike Hall on Friday, April 30th 1943 . There was tea and cakes followed by a recitation on ‘The Death of the Clogher Valley Railways’, which was composed by the then manager of the Ulster Bank in Clogher, called Mr. E. O’Byrne. The poem was recited by Mr. Ross and Mr. Kirk and reportedly brought the house down. Recitations followed from Ms. Mitchell, and Ms. Mavitty and songs by Canon Keane. Ms. Violet Connolly, who was the maid in the Rectory, composed a special poem to recognise Joyce’s contribution to the area and it was as follows: Departure of a Friend: The reason why we have met tonight, I am sorry for to tell, Is to say farewell to a faithful friend, I’m sure you all know well. His name is Mr Topley and he is known far and near, By his willing hand and his kindly word of cheer. The people they shall miss him, I think I hear them cry, But they will never miss the water till the well runs dry. We often said we’d miss him, these words will sure come true. His equal in this world of ours, they are but very few. If all the world was ours to give, we’d give it all and more, If we could keep this faithful friend with us for ever more. But now alas we say farewell to this friend so kind and true, And wish him every blessing in that land he is going to. And when he is gone this will be the chat We will never replace him while pussy’s a cat. The accompanist was Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Johnston had given the loan of her piano. MBE. Many other memories were recalled by the Topley brothers, like the first night of the Blitz in Belfast when they stood on Queens Bridge watching the bombs and the guns firing back. The remembered their visits to the station in Coalisland and to Burn’s sand quarry and the coal mines. They heard a story that a couple of wagons of coal had to be taken from Belfast to Coalisland for the official opening of the mines there but they do not think this is true. They also visited Dungannon on numerous occasions. Before he retired Joyce received an MBE for his services to the Railway and that was a great and proud day for him, when he was presented with his award in the Palace. He was nominated by Myles Humphries, Mayor of Belfast. Then when he retired he was approached by his former chief, Hugh Waring, to join the Board of the Oaklee Housing Association. He spent 25 years with the Association and retired from that in 2007. There was a presentation to him for his services there and a terrace of houses in Coleraine has been named after him. The purpose of the association is to provide housing for people who meet certain criteria and the latest project completed is in Monaghan town, which was officially opened in June 2008. Very Busy men. One would think that at 96 and 95 both men would have little to do or be capable of doing much but not so with Norman and Joyce. Their days are full and much time is spent keeping track of all their friends and indeed making new acquaintances. Recently they were introduced to a Mr. Jack Storey, who came from Scotstown in Monaghan and married to a Ms. Johnston from Seveagh, Glaslough. They live on the Hollyrood Road and have many contacts all over the world through the internet and have assisted many in tracing family trees. They are in contact with Jim Donaghy, a former teacher, who changed to the transport business and is a real railway enthusiast. They can relate the story of the sale of New Mills by Emily Todd, who married Todd from Terrycalfe, and moved in to the Pillar House. She was Hoey from the Dyan and her brother, Andrew, who was making boxes for the linen trade, took the daughters, Emily and Eileen, to live on the Antrim Road in Belfast. They tell of the Cargills and Dolly who married Maine, whose daughter became the famous and much loved Elizabeth Maine in the Royal Hospital. Joyce also told me of the Amberson lady who ran the Post Office in Emyvale. She married Bob Wright and their son, Robert, now a retired Church of Ireland rector, who calls with them regularly. They keep in contact with Larry Conlon, from Ardee, who is very interested in history. They also visit the Coulter family at Portinaghy, and were very saddened by Roy’s death recently. They have kept up friendship with Danny Aughey, son of the late Jimmy, and in one way or another they continue to keep abreast with happenings and people in the Glaslough and Monaghan areas. Joyce tells of a trip he took to England and a visit to a church in Brixham, where he came across a tablet referring to people from Faulkland, near Glaslough. Henry Francis Lyte, who composed the hymn, ‘Abide with Me’, was a rector there. He was very ill, though still in his 50’s, and two weeks after he wrote this hymn he headed for the warm climate of Europe but died at Nice and is buried there. He was married to Anne Maxwell, daughter of Reverend William Maxwell of Faulkland, and she and other members of her family are buried at Brixham. Return trip. Monaghan County Museum is running an Exhibition on the Great Northern Railway at the moment and they have extended an invitation to Joyce and Norma to visit the exhibition. That is taking place on Tuesday next, September 23rd at 12 noon and should be a very interesting occasion as both share their experiences with like minds. They will also visit the new Housing Project in the town and no doubt take pleasure from the fact that they had an input to that development. It has been our pleasure to meet them and we are looking forward to further stories. By Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer. But the story does not end there. The boys came to Monaghan and I accompanied them around the various places they wanted to visit. Unfortunately Danny was not in Monaghan that day and they would have loved a chat with him but he did call with them in Belfast regularly. We visited the Rowantree Court Housing complex that Oaklee Housing built up beside the Hospital on the former McCaldin site. It was officially opened by Margaret Conlon TD in June 2008. Joyce at the age of 96 was the Treasurer of Oaklee and was a constant and cherished worker for them. When he retired there was a big presentation afternoon in his honour in Belfast and he invited me along as his guest. On a regular basis he would post to me scans of various documents relating to the various churches around Emyvale and Glaslough and other interesting pieces. All my interviews with the brothers were chats at which I scribbled notes. I then decided to record both of them with their stories and they agreed. I arranged the first session for the 18th December 2009 and when I arrived Norman had gone to town to do the Christmas shopping. Since I wanted to record them individually and then together Joyce agreed to begin when I arrived. Again I was amazed at his memory for exact dates and names of people. Joyce continued telling more stories of his time in Glaslough and his life in Belfast, his MBE presentation and other great moments in his life. After about an hour Norman arrived back and wanted to know what was going on and was I not going to record him. I told him he was next and then the two of them together. Norman asked me to give him a date when I would record him and it had to be an exact date so I gave him a certain day in January 2010 and he was happy with that. I did go to Belfast on that day but not to record Norman but to attend his funeral to Roselaun cemetery. Despite his long life, and perhaps because of it, there was a great sadness among his many friends who attended and Joyce never really recovered from that day. He lost interest in many things and though we continued to meet and chat I never recorded another word. He then took ill and spent time in hospital and passed away in August 2012. May they both Rest in Peace.
1. Their father at Glaslough Station 2. Heading for the 12th July 3. Joyce with his mother 4. Joyce and Norman pictured in the Musem with myself and Museum Curator, Liam Bradley They donated some of articles from Glaslough to the Museum. 5. Pictured with a cherished picture of Glaslough station. 6. Pictured outside Rowantree Court with Ian, the CEO of Oaklee Trust, and Jim their good friend and driver. 7. The two seated in the Hall way of Rowantree Court building and feeling very proud for being part of it.
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