and weather in the 1960s
Somehow, these were years in which varied cultures and serious
change were enough to concern town and countryside alike.
Last overhangs of the 1950s were to be held by the throat
in the borderland between Co. Monaghan and Northern Ireland,
seeking for relief on either side in periods of occasional
clouds pausing and passing.
For instance, the decade of the 1960s were on a see-saw,
not alone on weather conditions, but were topics for ceile
visitors of the period. In spite of the land mass there
was a sense of dispersal among the younger people of the
times. Relevant bye byes were a strong signal to the farming
community in the graduating release of the hired boy
and or, the female equivalent! Within assorted communities
there was an undercurrent in which the youth of the period
had already learned about better working conditions elsewhere.
Great Britain was top of the mast for those anxious to emigrate.
In my own young manhood I was conscious in having a position
of temporary postman, in being accepted in three postal
areas, all generous in my years of service.Times then were
to cultivate a sense of growing silence in which a generation
were leaving voids at home, and in deciding who was next
to be on the bus to Dublin, in time for the first boat heading
towards England. In the lilt of rural morning mists young
brothers and sisters were sadly filling vacant seats, many
never to return again.
Saturday Sixteenth September 1961, there came a day in an
unexpected break in the weather. It was then a Saturday
in the postal service. I for one was to witness the country
becoming transformed into a gale of ever increasing storm
conditions. However, I became obliged to walk with my bicycle
through hills and hollows. In general, trees were at the
mercy of the wind storm in centuries old estates in the
county. In looking back into those years, old people of
the present will remember the general nudity of trees which
were erased to keep the rural fire sides alive in the aftermath
of war and other rationing.
Coming back to the storm, along came up rooted ancient lone
trees, loose slates of homes, but worst were the galvanised
iron sheets floating at random across the land. Aloneside
one sturdy roof I was forced to race from that house, just
in time for the galvanised roof sliding across the front
and porch of the dwelling. This being the home of an aged
resident, I was obliged to alert neighbours to come to the
mercy of the lady. Latter by dusk, I too became a victim
when my field of oaten stooks were scattered against ditches
and hedge rows. The rest of the weekend was passed helping
neighbours saving the remnants of each others harvests.
Within the following week I was asked to assist a rural
friend to cut and gather barley straw in which every ounce
of seed had been threshed by the wind to be left for the
wild birds in the months there after. Three fields of barley
grain were to be paid for as having been expensive rural
In the circulation of the storm on the day I was told by
a friend that some members of one wooded estate were travelling
across the midlands in the hope to get home safely. One
instance was their hearing of a falling tree, killing a
lady on her donkey and cart. Back at the estate trees were
not the only problem. There was severe damage to valuable
cereal harvests in fields and haggards. In one instance
amidst trees an aged female neighbour was gathering fallen
branches for her fireside, unaware that trees were tumbling
around her, but an estate member came to her mercy. Roads
in and around were blocked by some of the finest trees of
great age. With neighbours and workers it took many days
to cut up trees to clear the surrounding roads. This of
course was by man power with hand made cross cutting saws
in those times. Altogether, the storm was short in the anger
of both rich and poor alike.
Wind seems to be conscious amidst the drumlins. Nowadays
in heritage tours through Co. Monaghan by bus service there
is obvious silence and sadness as we climb ever upwards
through the trail. Whereby for miles there may not be a
person on the routes.
From our bus window it is annoying to witness derelict homes
and farms long vacant. In fact, I well remember one or more
ruins exposing remnants of once proud family homes. While
still enroute, the towns become exposed, Clones, Mon-aghan,
Ballybay, Castleblayney, etc, etc, all now gradually upgrad-ed
in challenging the fragments of a forgotten past.
Today, all such towns can produce their variety of goods,
Just so are the many business and other premises. The weather
as always remains unpredictable.
Taken from Monaghan's Match