Donnelly Canada

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Barber Family

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(Submitted by Richard Barber and Patricia Barber in April 2009)

Up until the 1960s, the blacksmith’s shop (forge) serving the entire area around Tierworker was located a short distance from the Tierworker crossroads along the road to Cormeen. The last blacksmith was Dickie Barber. Dickie and Annie Townley were married in Tierworker Chapel in 1934. Dickie was reared in a little house on Fartha (Fertagh) hill next to Carnaville (Cornaville). He had three brothers and two sisters. His father and grandfather were also called Richard, as are his son, grandson and great-grandson.

The Townleys were a large Protestant family that came originally from Rockcory in County Monaghan and lived on a farm just up the road from the forge. The previous owner of the farm was Peter Rountree, a relative of the Townleys. Annie had sisters in England and one in Canada, all deceased now.

 

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Dickie Barber and Annie Townley

 married in Tierworker Chapel in 1934

Dickie Barber learned his trade from his uncle, Owen Clarke nickname the Brusher, and inherited the business from him. The forge eventually closed in the 1960s mostly because of the increasing use of tractors, but two sons of Dickie and Annie still live at the same house which is a big farm now.

 A note from Patricia Barber: My name is Patricia Barber and I am the granddaughter of Anne and Dickie Barber from Tierworker. My Father, Michael Barber, was their middle son and moved to the United States in the 1960s. My mother is Rose Donnellan, daughter of Mary and Phillip Donnellan of Blackhills, Co. Cavan. Below is a photograph of my father with four Barber sons, on the family farm - son Charlie is missing. (from left to right...Michael, DD, Maxie, Ray)

 

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Barber men

Michael, DD, Maxie, Ray (son Charlie is missing)

Photo below was provided for website by Richard Barber in August 2009

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Barber Family, with Nanny, c. 1976

Maxwell, Raymond, Michael, Eugene (dec), Charles, Richard (DD)
Seated Nanny (dec), Carmel

 

RICHARD BARBER'S LIFE STORY – A SUMMARY

by Richard Barber, May 2010

EARLY YEARS

In the year of 1935 on May 29th  a baby was born to Richard and Anne Barber, their first born, that was me, also named Richard, a family name going back for at least four generations. My dad was known as Dickie  so it was decided that I should be called Dixie, but that was all changed when my next brother Charley came along , and started talking. He could not say Dixie so he called me  D D with the result that it stuck, and to this day at home I am only known as D  D.

My earliest memory is of being driven to school in a car. I believe I was four years old at the time. That only lasted for a few weeks. The local school was low in numbers, so they gave places to any eligible future pupils so as to build up the roll numbers. I was about six years old when I started school officially;  I was taken by my near neighbour  Edmond Carolan. It was a good walk at least two Irish miles as the crow flies. (Irish miles equal 2240 yards)  .

Me and Charley went to that school for about three years. Eventually we were moved to another school in a different parish which was not as far to travel. School days was not always school . Often I would be at home helping out with the chores, and as I got older it was to get more frequent. My father was a blacksmith by trade. My mother came from a big farm, and her being of a different religion caused a lot of friction with her parents. Her new home was only three hundred yards down the road which did not help.

When I was about nine my parents bought a small piece of land eight acres to be exact, but it was completely enclosed by my grandparents farm, so they had to pay over the market price at a public auction.

Times were very hard at that time, the war was just over and although Ireland was neutral, were still very affected . I can remember our breakfast consisted mainly of oaten porridge boiled the night before, bread and butter at lunch time and a big pot of fried potatoes when we came home from school.

With the farm now in progress my schooldays became less and less especially during  peak periods of the year. Spring started with preparation and  planting, all done manually as there was no tractors in them days. Summer was taken up with saving turf on the bog, weeding crops and saving hay not always easy as in them times it often rained then too. Autumn was taken up with harvesting and picking potatoes, often on very cold and frosty days in November .On Winter nights I would be called upon to do some welding in the forge with my dad if no man was about to use the 14lb sledgehammer. I can still remember how quickly it got very heavy, and my arms aching , but it did build up good muscles.

On Easter Monday 1949 the day Ireland was declared  a republic, I remember it well I was brought up to a field with a plough and two ponies and shown how to get on. I was left there to plough the field a man’s job in every sense and I was thirteen years old at the time . On my way to serve Mass one morning I got hit in the face by a thorn bush my eye seemed to hurt. I went on to Mass and then school. After a few days the eye got very sore so my mom took me to a doctor  who immediately sent me to Navan  hospital .The doctors treated me but after eight weeks the eye was removed. It was starting to effect the good eye. After some time I was given a glass eye which needed changing every year while I was growing. Needless to say that ended  my schooling I left school without ever having done an exam and very little education.

By this time I had six siblings so you can imagine what it was like for all of us living in a small one bed roomed house at that time, half sleeping in the room and the rest in the kitchen. Even though times were hard we as children had lots of good times as well, not many toys but we had our own games like hide and seek, and football with our neighbours and cousins who lived just up the road from us. On winter nights often spent playing cards to the light of a tilley  lamp often with a burst mantle. One winter we were having trouble with one of our cousins and a neighbours lad stopping very late at night playing cards, so

I hitched up a plan to give them a scare. I got some metholated spirits and a plate left it in waiting ready to set the prank. The two lads as usual left to home in the small hours so when they had gone, I went out and ran up the field to the crossroad where they would part. I could hear them coming up the road chatting. I was out in the field ready, and when they got near I out the spirits on the plate lit it held the plate in front of me and walked towards the road. The lighted spirit makes you glow in the dark.

When I got near the road I put out the fire and lay down on the grass, as it was so dark the lads could see nothing. Panic set in and after a brief goodnight they parted. I could hear them running as fast as they could over the road. The whole topic next day was about the two lads seeing the devil on the way home. There was no more late nights after that for a long time, they were never told what happened, and to this day they firmly believe that they saw the devil that night. No TV  radio or electricity at that time, only very lucky people had a wireless as it was then called. There was an occasion when I was hounded by some of my peers about how good fishing was, so in the end I thought  I might give it a go. So off I went to the glen to choose a rod , a long straight hazel was the accepted thing. Then off to the local town, to get a line and some hooks. After digging up some worms I was all prepared for a good Sunday’s fishing. Sunday after noon I set off to the lake the supposed ideal place. I rigged up the rod and cast out my line. After about a hour I began to think to myself what am I doing sitting here staring into a lake? So I lifted hooks, line, worms, rod and all chucked them as far as I could into the lake and went home. So ended my fishing career for ever. There are lots of things I remember far too many to, mention here. We were very simple, not a bit street wise like the youth of to day. I can remember when our baby sister arrived, us all being boys had never seen a naked girl, so one day when she was being changed, one of the lads asked Mummy why has Cammie not got a mickey? only to be told the ducks has eaten it, no further questions, the answer was accepted.

TEENAGE YEARS

My teenage years mostly consisted of farming, and the odd day working with one local farmer or another, daily wage eight shillings and no set quitting time, it depended on the task for the day. In 1955 a new house was built  guess who had to do most of the work? During my latter years in Ireland I had jobs with the local council, and the water  drainage board, but there was never anything permanent: three or four weeks and then  back to farming  again. With my brothers  all  growing  up  it  was  getting  crowded  .Two  of  them already had left and gone to England but I being the oldest, the weight fell on  me.  With bigger demands, more land was rented which meant more work . At this stage no girls involved in my life I have never been to a dance. The main attraction was a trip to the cinema  on  a  Sunday  night,  admission  cost  10d  which  was sometimes hard to find.

The ever growing use of tractors on the farms meant a big downturn in the blacksmiths trade which meant my dad did not have much work and not being a very proficient farmer got up and went to Birmingham. I was still stranded at home I had thoughts of leaving many times but could never take up the courage to go . In the end my Mother God rest her, could see what was happening. With two more younger brothers waiting in the wings she encouraged me to leave.

EMIGRATION

In April 1958 I departed for England. In reply to an advertisement in the local newspaper for barmen by an Irish chain of public houses I was offered a job. Off I went into the unknown. I arrived in Euston, London with a case containing a shirt, trousers, jumper and a five pound note in my pocket, my worldly possessions at the time.  I was taken to  a pub in Shepherd’s Bush, the Queen Adelaide. I started work next morning on a weekly wage £4.17s 6p per week, full board living in.

Everything was so strange, a big noisy city like London was very different place, in comparison to the green fields around Tierworker.

Life in the pub was not all that bad once you got into a regular system, in them days pubs were under strict control about opening hours. Open at 11am, close at 3pm, open again at 5 30, close at 11pm.The staff  were all very friendly, being all Irish also helped a lot. I could not wait for my first trip back home, it was the next year, and I still think it was always my most exciting time. within a few weeks I was sending money home as was usual for all Irish emigrants at that  time. I have always been careful with money, often being accused of being tight or mean, but that was my nature. I soon got a post office savings book and added to it bit by bit. I had not much outlay as all my keep was supplied by the pub.

I was there for about two years when I got transferred to another branch which was company ethics.

It was in Brixton along distance from Shepherd’s Bush , all pubs are much the same so I got on well there. After some time, I am not sure how long, I got transferred back to Shepherd’s Bush again, but this time as a head barman more responsibility again. No girls involved in my life except one in Brixton which I got friendly with, that did not last long as the manager believed we were getting too close and had her quickly transferred. Another period of time passed without needing a mention, until a big mate of the manager bought a small pub in Camden and needed someone to run it. He head hunted me, and to avoid hard feeling with Murphy my manager, he got me to leave (which caused a lot of ill will among us). He got me a temporary job in the Crown in Harlesden so it would not look bad on his part.

After a short trip home I was installed in the pub in Camden. It  proved not to be a very good decision as I did not fit in very well, not being a drinker caused some resentment, so I decided to move on. I got my job back at the Crown every thing was ok again, at least I knew most of a fairly big staff.

Staff members changed quite often there. There were bar staff and upstair staff to do catering and housemaids. One evening this young ginger haired girl arrived to join us, (all were living in), she had a big rock on her left hand, so I thought at the time that it was a no go area (o how wrong I was!). As time passed we got to know her as Peggy. She seemed  a very friendly person and got on well with everyone. She was employed upstairs so I did not have much contact with her  except at lunchtime. In time we became closer and other members of staff noticed what was happening. She was still going out at night to meet her boy friend. It was beginning  to hurt. Then one night she came in to announce that she was getting married, inside I was devastated but I could not show it. I well remember one night she came in we were all watching TV in the managers sitting room, no spare seats so she sat on my knee immediately she touched me a strange  tingling sensation went all way up my spine. I knew then that there were something special between us.

Even though Peg was going out we were still good mates during the daytime.

On my day off we would go on some occasions to see  a film. I clearly remember the first time she kissed me in the cinema it was magical. As time passed I noticed that gradually she was leaving the ring off, and then suddenly Brickie (the cook) says to me: “Richard you are the only one that Peggy loves”. Soon after that the engagement was called off and we were left to our own devices .One night Peg fell asleep on my bed and wakened about two am went to her own room only to find her mate had locked the door and was fast asleep. Panic set in, as to how she would get in . I must have being mad for I went out our window, went along a narrow ledge in her window and opened the door. When I realised the risk I had taken I was dumfounded: three stories up if I slipped I would not stand a chance. I can tell you it never happened again.

Not long after we decided to get wed, an engagement was announced on our day off. The staff arranged a surprise party for us when we got in. I remember the party cost thirteen pounds, it was considered an unlucky amount so a few more drinks were added to take the bill to a satisfactory amount.

A date was set and all the necessary arrangements made. We knew that when we were married we could not continue living in the pub. The general manager from the brewery offered to give us a pub of our own to run. Somehow we declined his offer, we gave our notice and left. Peggy got a flat with another girl which was to be our flat after the wedding I got digs not far away I got a job in a warehouse. I don’t remember much about the warehouse as I was only there a few weeks before the wedding.

The wedding was arranged for May 11th 1963 in Limerick (I had been in London for five years by this time ). We went home some time before the wedding , I first went to Limerick for a few days as I had never met any of Peg’s family, anyway I was not kicked out. I went home and spent the day before our wedding planting potatoes .

The wedding went well, about forty guests attended. That night we stayed in Dublin. The next day we flew to Jersey for a weeks honeymoon. We flew back to London to start married life together, we had another two weeks off before we started work again. I got a job in a factory in Park Royal and Peggy went to work in Heinz. All was calm until Carmel our first baby arrived. We were in a tiny flat at top of the house with no space for a tiny one, the flat underneath  us became vacant, so we got a move down to it. We moved all our belongings which was not much stacked it on the floor around the baby, sat down and started playing cards, not a care in the world! As time passed we were getting the urge to get a house of our own. It would be impossible for the likes of us to be able to buy a house in London. We were put in contact with a Catholic housing society with contacts all over the country. He advised us to move out of London altogether. Arrangements were made to meet a priest  in Nottingham. I travelled up on the train to be met at the station by Fr Culligan  in an old battered van. We went all over the place obviously he knew his way around. By the end of the day I had secured a warehouse job in Aspley, and a flat in Mapperly park. (We are still friendly with Mr Mason who owned the flat).

NOTTINGHAM

We arrived baby and all in Nottingham took a taxi to the flat. I noticed he must have known we were strangers because he took us on a very roundabout  way I expect to get more money from us. Our luggage, all two tea chests of it, landed later by van. The flat, huge in comparison to what we were used to, was completely empty. Luckily I had some money saved for we had to go straight out and  buy what was necessary to survive. We were not well furnished as I was still intent on getting our own house. I went to work in the warehouse, a very boring job. It mainly consisted of moving parcels on a barrow from one wagon to another, but it paid the rent. Peg was looking after our precious little girl.

A few months later  a couple  from Limerick moved into a flat next to us,  and became good friends.

He was a foreman for a big painting contracting firm, knew I was not happy with my present position, and got me a job with him painting a factory that was closed for holiday. It was away in Bedford so I had to lodge there . My pay for the two weeks was a lot more money than anything I ever had before, so you may guess I was not happy with the thought of going back to moving parcels again. Dave my new friend, had a mate, a charge hand on a big building site who got me a job with him, and so started my painting career proper.

My  first day as an industrial painter was a memorable one. I was taken in the foreman’s car, (he was German) to a place called Cottam about thirty miles from Nottingham where a new power station was being built, it was gigantic. There were hundreds of men working there and about forty painters. The construction was not long in progress, and to introduce me to the height of the building he took me all the way up numerous flights of stairs without rails guards or anything to hold. Eventually we got near the top, exactly one hundred and eighty four feet. All that could be seen was the steel skeleton of a partly built construction: piles and piles of red rusty steel, no floors or sides- just steel. It was very nerve wracking for someone that was never off the ground before I can assure you. I was glad to get back to the ground. I was given a job on a single story annex near the main building, it did not feel too bad after coming down from the sky.

I travelled every day from Nottingham. Life at the power station was not always a bed of roses, skinned  knuckles was a common thing from using wire brushes. It was a very dangerous place to be. Several workers were killed there, I remember three being killed in one week, you always knew when someone was hurt a loud siren would sound, I had many narrow escapes  one day I was crossing a floor a piece of steel dropped in front of me and made a big dint in the concrete. My saddest time was when I learned that a man from Northern Ireland was killed. He had fallen from a cradle on the side of the building, something he had shown me how to use not long before As time went by I became more used to the heights. Me and a young Irish lad were put to paint the roof girders of the turbine roof before the sheets were put on, we just sat on them and painted away no scaffolding nets or harness just you and a can of paint, and a straight drop one hundred and twenty feet to the ground. I had worked there for about two years when I got moved. The company was a huge painting co from Birmingham with jobs all over the place, and on occasions would move out some men to do what was considered an

urgent job. It was on such an occasion that I got introduced to the pylons. Me and a couple of others got sent out to finish off a few little ones, they were only a few bottoms not more than twenty feet high. It took us about a week to do them, then back to the power station.

In the mean time we bought a house in Sandon street, it cost £2500 on a mortgage of £13 6s 8p per month. We moved in on 27th December 1966, our own house at last, what we had set our hearts on for some time. More children arrived in quick succession we soon had a house full.

PYLON  PAINTING  YEARS

Spring came around, the start of the pylon painting season, it usually went from March until November. Gangs of eight was the usual crew ,so I got drafted in to make up numbers. It was a different wage structure on the pylons, all piece work which meant you only got paid for the work you had done. As a guide to anyone who does not know, pylon lines are of various sizes depending on the amount of power they carry. Most common ones are called 275. Which means they carry 275000 volts of electricity, enough to supply several towns , small ones were 132s and the huge ones were 400s.

As they work in pairs experienced painters did not want any greenhorns with them, it would cost  time teaching them so on my first day I had no mate I was put on a huge pylon near Market Harbour and left to find my own way around it, the foreman came to see me a few times, but by evening I was still up the same tower as we called them. Next day I got a mate I knew well (Pat Burke RIP) who never done any towers either, so we were as bad as each other. One thing with Pat he would not leave the leg with the steps on, so I had to do the plain leg , which proved easiest in the end. After about a week we were able to earn a considerable wage. I spent the next eighteen years up and down these pylons all over the country. Including Scotland Wales Dagenham Preston Northampton to name but a few, We travelled from home most of the time usually in a old company van that was always covered with paint.

A few facts, pylon painting is an art of its own which very few could master. So many qualities was required, first of all you had to be able to work at great heights, sufficiently  strong to carry paint up Pylons. Pylons varied in height from one hundred and fifty feet to four hundred ft depending where they were situated, highest ones was always over rivers and roads. Painting its self was not very artful it was only a matter of covering the steel, so paint went everywhere. I was very lucky if a pair of overalls lasted a week, they would get so heavy with paint they would have to be replaced. I used to go to Sketchleys and buy  worn out ones by the bag, twenty pairs at a time. Carrying paint up a tower was not an easy, task the paint was not like what you would get in the shops, it was heavy industrial paint each tin weighting  twenty lbs, I very often went up four tins at a time, three was normal, and sometimes when I was on my own I would take up six, two hanging each side on a belt and one in each hand, a big load to take up, up to two hundred feet, one needed a rest half way up to catch your breath. Other problems included getting to the actual pylon . The foreman usually left the paint at the tower and we would walk across from one  to another, four a day was a good days work . We had to go through all sorts of crop fields often very wet, I was often wet to the skin getting to my first tower due to a heavy mist or rain from the night before. If you came to a river you would simply have to wade across, hang your socks on the bottom of the tower, they would be dry, and so would you when you would get down.

The heat was all ways a big problem, we always wore a complete hood ,with only the necessary part of your face out that part we were covered with Vaseline ,(it came in big tubs) . The heat would make you would sweat it off quickly, thirst was another problem we used to carry half gallons of orange cordial,  but often it would be gone by  dinner time. Often I would drink water from the  cattle troughs in a field, you would just be simply be dying of thirst. We hardly ever stopped for lunch, if you were very lucky to be near a road, you might catch the van and grab a sandwich while crossing to the next tower, but that did not happen often. Some lighter moments, we have numerous experiences  over the years, too many to mention. Just a few brief ones, the time a farmer threatened us with a shot gun going through his wheat field sticks out. Another time during the I RA troubles in the 1970s out on the moors outside Sheffield the foreman had left paint at the tower for us, when we got there two policemen crawling on their hands and knees going slowly towards the tower. I have never seen so scared a man since or before. Someone had phoned the station to say they had seen someone place something under the pylon, suspecting the I R A. They were very relieved to find out it was the painters. Another time we were doing a line near north London, there was a gun factory with two pylons in their compound, police clearance was needed to enter the compound , all my English work mates were looking for a chance to nosey around, but they were surprised, only me and my mate Frankie Dunn would be allowed in, they were appalled as to why two supposed I.R.A. supporters could get in and they were barred. One evening as we were getting changed by a roadside out somewhere in Lincolnshire, we were all stripped off when this big flash car with blacked out windows passed by, we took no notice of it. That night on the news I learned that Princess Ann was in the area, she must have got a huge eye full of all our naked bodies.

A typical working day, arriving on the job about nine a m , depending the distance travelled  having a quick sandwich in the back of the van, then out to a big fire. We needed to dry out everything, from the sweat from the previous day. Every one stripped, striped down right to their birthday suit. Then it was off to dropped near the first of your allotted towers. Each pair wanted off first, a rotation system was in progress. Once you started there was no stop until you were finished. I would be going flat out all the time, when I was up there  it was only to work, not sighting from the top of a tower, I was there for one thing only , to make money. I always remember my best week, my pay packet contained  eleven fifty pound notes plus odds. We were always paid in cash. That was in 1980 and a huge wage at the time. Off course I had bad weeks too on a wet day  I earned nothing.

Most of the lads had some kind of a nickname, there was Spider, Nogin the nog, Chick, the poison dwarf, and the stork, because he would spend all day on one tower leg. I was called Bungy  after an Irish comedian character of the time, it was on a par with D  D.

We painted a line of 400s between Chesterfield and Sheffield, the very first line of that size to be painted anywhere in all of the country, they were huge. The contractors never having painted a line like that before had no idea of what price to put on them so without saying anything, got two of our lads to do a test paint for a week. The lads suspected what was happening painted away at their ease, with the result that when the price came out it was fantastic. We were making a small fortune, in the end we had to work some half days so as not make too much money.

During the early 1970s I became  involved with the youth club at the church, I was on the committee for several years, most of the work was done by the youth leaders. The committee would meet ever Month, in the club, fund raising was always a problem. There was all sorts of activities for the children, including a football team. One year it was decided to have a sponsored walk around the forest to raise funds . The Sunday evening arrived when the walk was scheduled, all the team turned out all rearing to go. Everyone set out on a two mile hike round the forest, when it ended, some of these leery young lads were bragging of not being a bit tired and could go around again. I although being about forty years old at the time, I was very fit from always climbing pylons challenged them to a race round again, they jumped at the idea. We all started, off the lads started off like a train down the field I just jogged a bit behind, after a couple of hundred yards I passed saying, come  on lets run, soon most gave up, so I said lets run back, we turned and I ran back  as fast as I could, the lads were nowhere in sight. Eventually they got back. I says to them, I taught ye footballers at least could run . Boy was I fit in them days.

The St Marys social club was operating at that time, some bar staff were missing , knowing that I had experience of bar tending I was requested to help out, it soon transpired that I was there permanently, every weekend. It was not because of money, just to help out the club. That went on for a while until there was some kind of dispute arose between the steward and the management, eventually the steward was dismissed, I was requested to take over, which I did. There I was working away all week, and at the weekend I was stuck in the club. I know that Peggy was not very happy about the situation but I was committed. Pay ten pounds per week. That went on for many years, I cant remember how many. At that time there was also a strong  Pioneer centre in the parish which I was a member off, they would meet every Month, there were always some meeting which I had to attend . No wonder Peggy was often complaining that I was out too often.

By degrees things changed, eventually the youth club folded, the Pioneers (a teetotal temperance society) faded away for lack of members, I was the last president in the Nottingham branch. Something else I also must put in. One Spring while in between jobs I was off work for a few weeks I went with my long time mate Paddy to help him out, here and there, he was a gardener. We went out to Chilwell to cut some branches of a tree, me being used to climbing it would be no problem. Some how I slipped and fell, I was only  about ten to twelve feet u p, but I managed to break seven ribs, and was in  intensive care in hospital for four days. Contary to what was said, I did not cut the branch I was sitting on. I was on pylons for  nearly twenty years and never heard of anyone anywhere in the country falling off  a pylon, but the bloody tree nearly got me.

THE  NEWSAGENCY

As I was getting older painting pylons would become more difficult. I would have to consider my future. Several options was considered, I gradually come round to the idea of a paper shop. I started looking and watching paper adverts. A shop around the corner from me on Sherwood rise became available I decided I would try for it. Eventually our house was sold, and with everything I had saved we got the shop. That meant I had to give up the club, and the pylons or so I thought.  The shop was a big change from what I was used to, very early mornings. I would start at four thirty every day and it was usually about eight at night when I would be finished. The work was easy it meant mostly standing behind the counter most of the day. All was well for a while but finances was very tight. It was hard to make ends meet mainly because a big mortgage. We could not carry on, drastic action was needed. There was no choice, I would have to go climbing again. It was always easy to get a job on the towers. The same crew did it year after year, very few new comers ever came into that trade. So back I went, I would sort out the papers in the morning Peggy would look after the shop during the day, with the help of a friend. Luckily the line was not too far away, near Newark so I got home fairly early in the evening usually about five. I would then complete all necessary  tasks for the evening. This procedure lasted for a few months, and with the good wages from the pylons we were soon solvent again. After that things started to go our way. A neighbouring newsagent went bust, so we acquired his news rounds.  With the extra business we were on our way. Extra  papers meant more paper boys, always a problem, very often I would have to deliver some rounds myself, most trouble was caused when they did not turn up at all,  by the time you realized they were not coming it would be too late to get  cover. In the end I had mostly adults delivering. I would be doing two rounds myself. I would do my first round before opening time. the shop would open at six a m daily. At about six thirty when Peggy would take over I would do the next round, hoping I would not have any more to do.

As the years passed we were doing fairly well, we made lots of friends, most of our customers were nice and friendly despite the fact we were Irish. In time we got in a lottery machine, that meant a lot more money being handled, and with it some undesirables around, meant you had always to be on your toes. One Monday morning the Inevitable happened, at six thirty a m just as I was going out on my round suddenly Two masked men appeared on the shop floor with a sawn off shot gun, I immediately dropped the bag of papers and grabbed hold of the gunman, a shot was fired blowing a big hole in the window, there was a tussle the gunmans mate ran out, chaos followed, the robber trying to escape and me holding to him. By chance Mr robbers mate pushed open the door and he managed to get out. The police were there within a few minutes but the robbers were gone. Enough evidence was left to identify him easily, like his watch and the mask, he managed to keep the gun. The shop was closed I spent most of the day at the police station, when I got back the window was being replaced and T V crews waiting for an interview. It occurred to me later how close I came to have being shot, it must have only inches away. Needless to say the gunman was caught and got twelve years in goal, I did not even have to go to the trial the evidence was so strong. The only good thing  to come out of experience was that I got my first T V appearance. I got lots of praise and congratulations from our regular customers  for being so brave. Another incident occurred  some time later. In the middle of the night a thief smashed a side window, and got in to help himself, I caught him in the window I was half naked and no shoes, with the result that I got a lot of glass splinters in my feet, there was blood everywhere and I had to spend some time in hospital having the glass removed.

Times are changing, a lot since we came here , crime was occurring more frequent, it was becoming a chore to be in the shop. You never knew when some undesirable would enter, we had a few more minor incidents, everyone adding to the fear factor. The government brought out new legislation regarding newsagents which broke their monopoly  on newspapers. Suddenly papers were being sold everywhere, in garages supermarkets off licences and many grocer shops too. It had a devastating effect on newsagents, with many being forced to close down. By this time I was thinking about retiring, selling a paper shop became almost impossible, our shop was up for sale for a while without much luck. The selling agent suggested selling it as a house rather than a shop. It being a fairly big house it proved successful.

RETIREMENT

On Saturday May 26th  2001 at seven thirty P M,  the shop closed its doors for the last time. The last week was very emotional, I actually seen a grown man sobbing on the floor and pleading please do not leave. Most of our customers were very sorry to see us go, except the ones that owed us money, which was not many. We got lots of gifts and flowers.and loads of cards.  I bought a house in Daybrook in which we still live. I often meet some of our old customers and they  remark about  how much we are still missed. I still live a fairly active life. I go walking every morning, up before seven, still cant get used to lying in.  My daughters keep me occupied gardening and a spot of painting now and again, trips to Ireland (home as I still call it )is more frequent.

Some facts, when I was a lad I always went  barefooted for about seven Months a year. Sore feet was always a problem, mainly from thorns, stone bruises, and grass cuts. Minor operations were often performed with a needle or a cut throat razor, a piece of fat bacon tied with a rag always done the job, off you went hopping in one leg until it got better. I have never tasted  alcholic drink in my life despite being involved in the bar trade for many years. I only ever smoked three cigarettes, they made me so ill I never touched them again. I have never been to a foreign country, Jersey was the farthest I have ever  went to, never had any desire to travel. When the children were young we went home every other year, the other year we mostly went somewhere here in this country. I got a car sometime in the 1970s, that made things easier. I spent eighteen years in the shop and in that time I had only six days holidays, two breaks of three days when on two special anniversaries the children took over and sent us to Scotland and the lake district. The shop was  closed only day a year Christmas day.

Often when I am in Ireland and remember what life was like when I was there, how much it has changed . The farm is much bigger now, huge sheds and barns half a million pounds worth of machinery scattered about, and up to a hundred head if cattle in the fields. My young brothers done well in carrying on what I had started. Much of my credit has to go to my loving and caring wife a wonderful person in her own right. She was always behind me no matter what my decision was, without her I would not manage very well my own. We were blessed with six wonderful children, whom from the day they were born never caused us an ounce of trouble, they were all very bright and amassed a total of eight degrees fifteen A levels and about sixty O levels between them, needless to say they have all got good jobs. We have got ten grandchildren all showing good academic abilities so far.

When I think back it has being along road, since that April day in 1958 when I arrived at Euston station with my trousers shirt and jumper in a case and the fiver in my pocket, I came along way since. I may not be a millionaire, but I have enough to keep us comfortable for the rest of our days. My motto is never put off until tomorrow that which can be done today, do an honest days work, that will make you happy  as well as your superiors, and you will always reap your  just rewards.

This is as  accurate an account of my life as I can remember it, with definitely no fiction whatsoever involved, compiled without any notes, with only the use of a dictionary to aid spelling. AMEN.

Barber & Roundtree Family Connection

(submitted by Caroline McGovern on April 22, 2010)

I am one of the Barber Clan, a niece of Richard & Mike, and I can bore anyone who will listen to me about our family tree. I now have (what I think is ) a very interesting old family tree which was prepared around 1900.  It names a lot of people and shows how they came about and who they were married to etc. It is chopped into three parts as the original is almost the length of a roll of wallpaper ! 

Click here to view the pdf file of the Roundtree Family Tree 1710

The tree starts with Charles Roundtree, born about 1710. In 1730, he left Armagh and went to Killigriffe, Bailieborough, where he married Mollie Coleman.

 

 

The Eyes That Shone - from Ireland to Canada in the 1950s

But a word of warning! The Eyes That Shone is not a saga filled with horrible tragedy and dysfunctional relationships, but rather a celebration of family lives in Ireland and Canada, in other words, a happy story featuring:

  • Memories of life on small farms in Ireland before 1950 and before tractors and electrification, when growing food depended largely on human sweat and muscle
  • Recollections about people and events in the Department of Public Works of Canada where the author worked during the period 1957 to 1991
  • Intimate perspectives on living and dying, politics and religion, home and family