27 Sept 2022

From the Leitrim Observer Archives

1950 – Gold in the hills of Leitrim

1950 – Gold in the hills of Leitrim

There’s gold in the hills of Leitrim, gold in the shape of cigarettes and tobacco. Thanks to the Government’s decision to lift cigarette and pipe tobacco quota restrictions, many Leitrim folk are getting rich at the smuggling racket. Leitrim is one county in Ireland where sales of pipe tobacco are saoring, a traveller told a “Times Pictorial” reporter.

“But”, he said “local people don’t give the impression of smoking pipes more vigorously, seeing that tobacco is no cheaper.” Cigarette sales are climbing steeply. Now that you can get as much tobacco as you want in country districts which have not yet been found by Cross Channel visitors and Six-County tourists, the demand is keen. It is expected that the Exchequer revenue from tobacco will be greater by at least half a million pounds in the next Budget accounting. With cigarettes costing one penny each in the Twenty-Six counties and two pence each in the Six-counties, there is a fair penny profit to be made in tobacco smuggling which is well organised, said the traveller. There are points where a Customs patrol is never seen at night. It is at such places, after dark, that the apparently innocent, bulky looking man or woman crosses the Border for easy money.

Customs officials think that the cigarette and tobacco smuggling is largely in the hands of a well organised squads. They are never satisfied that the occasional captured person is working on his own. A striking feature is that persons caught red handed never seem to know the name of the man who gave them the stuff to smuggle. Smuggler bosses have put a tight gag on their helpers. Revenue Commissioners also use a gag – on themselves. They won’t talk about the extent of the smuggling. Meanwhile, tobacco manufacturing firms, which pay excise as cigarettes come tumbling from machines, are sending more and more money into the Exchequer.

1960 – Late marriages in Rural Ireland

The erection on farms of a dower house to which the farmer and his wife should retire, leaving the principal dwelling to their son as soon as he reached the marriageable age, was a suggestion put forward originally by Mr De Valera as a remedy for late marriages in rural Ireland. That suggestion was put forward some years ago but unfortunately the problem still remains with us.

A major impediment, as an eminent member of the Agricultural Science Association said recently, to rural development is the reluctance of a great majority of young farmers to marry at a reasonably early age. A factor which seems to deter a great number of them, he said, is their difficulty of obtaining a holding and the means to provide for a family.

Many farmers are hesitant to encourage their sons to marry and settle down and work with them as partners on the family farm and this seems to be the essential part of the problem. But there are also cases where young, and not so young, men, who are in full possession of land and are financially sound and in a position to be able to support a wife in comfort, show a strange reluctance to face their responsibilities.

An active public opinion against undue prolongation of bachelordum would possibly shame the reluctant ones into a realisation of their duty and where the fathers and mothers insist on remaining in control of the family holding, the Government might consider making concessions to them to try and induce them to hand over the reins of power to their sons.

This would be a harsh step to ask the powers that be to bring into force but methods should be devised to influence old people to pass control of their holdings over to their sons. By doing this, they would encourage their sons to accept their natural and proper place in the running of the farm.

1970 – Carrick oarsmen will row to Limerick

The country’s second oldest rowing club Carrick-on-Shannon is to embark on a history making marathon row in an effort to save a school for mentally handicapped chidlren from extinction. The school, which is situated at Mohill (Co Leitrim) is run by the five year old South Leitrim Mentally Handicapped Children’s Association, and caters for over 50 children.

The school costs £2,200 annually to run and this has been raised by voluntary contributions and a grant of £250 from Leitrim County Council. Following a deficit of £800 on last year’s running, the association had second thoughts about continuing the school until the Carrick club came to the rescue.

The club, many of whose members are involved in the work of the association, decided to take it upon themselves to resolve the financial crisis of the association for the coming school year. In order to do this, they adopted a rather unique method to collect money. On Sunday next, their under-age four crew, who captured their first honours at the club’s annual Regatta on August Monday, set out on the 120 mile hazardous journey from Carrick-on-Shannon to Limerick in an outrigger.

The crew who have taken the task upon themselves are: Noel McDermott (20) stroke; John Joe Beirne (20), Sean Layden (20) and Alphonsus Monaghan (18). The men who will cox them along this the longest river in these islands which varies from a mile wide river meandering through water meadows to a narrow but deep winding round wooded bluffs and tree girt islands, will be club chairman Tony Keane and former captain Gabriel Cox.

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