Newtowngore Textile Factory Reunion: On receiving a text about an August reunion of the staff of the Glen Prince textile factory in Newtowngore, one thought of the good old days of the 1970s, 80s and 90s when the McCartin brothers, Joe and Tommy, employed circa 300 people. The industries involved were piggeries, a mill for grinding corn, a steel engineering factory and a textile factory on the outskirts of the village in which the wearers of lipstick, rouge, “high heels” and mascara got viable wages via plying mechanical needles and thread. After the slump of 2008 arrived we began to read about comparisons to the “bad old days of the 1980s” when emigration rifle. For Jeyes sake, there was no need to emigrate from the poorest county in the country with Joe and Tommy employing the 300 mentioned above plus Richardson’s Sawmills (later called Balcas) employing over a hundred between a factory floor and office staff in the smallest village in Leitrim. Well, maybe, with the exception of Killargue. Our most local town, Ballinamore, provided possibly the equivalent amount of jobs starting with the almost 200 cailíní “Banshees” AKA housewives agus fir an tí. Then there were joinery factories, welding factories, a sizeable haulage firm and a factory for making cable spools for the ESB and Telecom who employed a lot of locals. All the above mentioned employment kept a generation from having to “export” themselves. New houses were built on the strength of the wages and salaries involved. Families, often large especially in the 1970s when there would anything from 5 to 8 kids per household before the “three is a crowd” kicked in in the 1980s and remained with us forever as scripture goes. Even with the amount of employed parents to be had in the 1980s and 90s, the multiplication by 3 ensured the viability of rural schools and rural Post Offices. In the interim, the vast majority if not all rural Post Offices have been stamped out, pardon the pun, and next for shaving will be the rural National Schools because of the ever dwindling scholar numbers due to the almost absence of births of babies in areas of high unemployment. Where rural schools’ pupil population are concerned, there seems to be one notable exception to the rule where Fenagh NS is concerned for whatever reason. The above mentioned text read as follows: Did you work in Newtowngore Textile Factory during the 1970s, 80s and 90s? If so, come along to Gorby’s Lounge, Newtowngore on Friday, August 23rd to catch up with old friends for a night of music, dance and craic. Light refreshments will be served. After expenses, all remaining money will go to the North West Hospice. If you plan to join us on the night, please call or text Gladys at 087-2786906 or Kathleen on 087-6459962, Bernadette at 087-9344229 or email email@example.com. Looking forward to seeing all you pyjama makers. RSVP before July 30th.
Went Haywire: One was reminded of the first line from the poem about the premature demise of King Arthur of Camelot fame which we learned while in St. Felim’s long ago, “And all day long the noise of battle rolled” on hearing the screeching of round bale wrappers, the roars of flat out tractor engines and the thump thump of the occasional square baler from sunrise to sunset and even beyond during the heatwave. After seven years of almost nothing but round silage bales with their attendant expensive PVC wraparounds, the PUF and indeed the PFFT in West Cavan must have experienced something akin to a breath of fresh air on being able to have round bales of hay created by contractors after such a late Spring which cost farmers the proverbial arm and a leg due to forking out €70 a “skite” for imported bales and tons of expensive concentrates, the savings on PVC will go some way towards offsetting the expenses mentioned above. As the old folk used to say, “a sunny summer puts piles of money into the people’s pockets”.
What’s New Pussycat?: Since the publication a few weeks ago of the contents of the notorious banking tapes, it was so disappointing to have everyone, even the young, say things like, “they’ll never do a day” (in jail) about those who caused the collapse of our economy. Then on last Tuesday week, optimism returned on reading about Justice Minister Alan Shatter promise that all offending bankers will be brought before the courts. Fair play to him. Then again one wonders how David “the Drummer” will be rooted out of Boston to face the music and how many years could the extradition proceedings take? One would love to come up with an idea like having him hit in the ass with a missile from one of those tranquilising guns they use to sedate lions, etc in the jungle before bundling him onto a private plane and dumping him in the country he helped destroy. But to quote the phase from the song, the Isle of Inisfree, “dreams are dreams”. The problem of tapes getting so-called VIPs into deep s--t goes all the way back to the 1970s when Richard Nixon AKA “Tricky Dickie” was deposed in the days of “Watergate”. Fast forward to the early 1980s when bugging devices were planted in journalists’ offices allegedly at the behest of an Irish VIP called CJH. Great satirist Dermot Morgan of Scrap Saturday fame concocted the following conversation between Haughey and his press secretary PJ Mara who entered his office with the news, “Your old friend is dead, boss”, “Which friend, PJ?”. “Nixon, Boss”. “Nixon, he and I had a lot in common. Both important players on the world stage. We both had problems with tape recorders. We both had our trials and our tribulations. Correction, PJ, he had his trials and I had my tribulations. We were hounded by gutter journalists”. The same Dermot ran a series about having Mara locate and erase the tapes of the conversations which allegedly took place between himself and the Northern gun runners in 1970. It all started with “PJ, I want those tapes found and destroyed”. “Yes, Boss” and for several Saturday mornings afterwards, he would ask questions like, “Mara, did you find those tapes?” to which came replies like “Can’t find them, Boss” or , ‘No Luck, Boss”. Eventually, a frustrated CJ said, “McSharry or Doherty would have found those tapes six weeks ago and it’s Gardiner Street for you, Mara”, “Gardiner Street, Boss?”. “The Dole, Mara”. Some things will never change in the island of Saints and Scholars.