Border Road Memories – Dympna Treanor, North Monaghan
Married in April 1959 had two thriving business’s on both sides of the Border, Drumfurrer, Carrickroe, Co Monaghan on the South side and Cullamore, Clogher, Co Tyrone Northern Ireland on the North side.
Agriculture land on both sides. Carried on a good business for ten years. Grocery, meal, hardware, gas etc. also a good heard of cattle on North and South farms.
Had car pass to go down to Clogher or surrounding towns.
1969 – 1995
Roads blown and dug up. Put out of business as could not get provisions to shops and no customers would come to shop in South out of fear. A constant British Army occupation. Helicopters overhead, flying low and army on ground.
This side was equal to North. Garda, Irish Army and Special Branch sat on our property and collaborated with their counterpart on the other side of the Border. My home was raided on one occasion when 4 of my children were in bed with chicken pox. There was also a burst pipe on the landing, and the floor boards were not nailed down. They thought we were hiding something. I felt so embarrassed at them (the Special Branch) opening drawers and reading letters, looking at the back of pictures etc. All this and the British Army watching from an old house two fields away.
I remember on a Sunday evening in the 70’s, the Police from Clogher, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland coming up to our street on the South side, they then went into a hayshed of ours and began searching it. They were armed but I was brave enough to confront them and I said to them “you are not allowed to search there because you are on the free state side of the Border”. They answered me saying “have you anything to hide Mrs”. On a few occasions the British Army came across the Border and knocked on our door. They knew where they were as they had to walk through the holes in the road to get up from the North side.
When we rang the Garda in Emyvale, Co Monaghan and informed them of the incursion of the British Army. The Garda came out lifted the British Army and left them off at a side road through our land in the South side. They did not bring them to Monaghan Barracks for questioning. The Garda then came out to our house that evening looking for us to make a statement. They weren’t too annoyed (the Garda about me trying to rear six children in such an atmosphere).
I wrote to Jack Lynch (Leinster) and Willie Whitelaw (then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) to come and see the state of the roads. They wrote back and said they could do nothing, but was sorry for our trouble. My feeling on that was ‘Sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef’.
No money and had to life small farmers dole, which I think was around £60 per week, for my husband, myself and six children. I think that was the most humiliating part of all. My husband used to sign-on in Emyvale Barracks, and I had to lift the dole from an old lady in Carrickroe PO. One of the biggest business people in North Monaghan were brought down through no fault of their own.
Could not get fodder to cattle in North, so sold the farm in South to Forestry also. Forestry price was only a fraction of the price for agriculture land.
We got small compensation from the Home Office in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the holes in the road (farm damage) but nothing for old farm buildings and house, destroyed during the filling of roads.
In 1981 (May) 3 cows and 2 calves shot by British Army and taken away at night by British helicopter and left in a wood in Co Fermanagh. I would not let my husband look for compensation for the animals shot as I was afraid the army would get him or some of my children.
When two of our boys, 10 and 13, used to go to count the cattle for their father they were put up on a ditch. The British Army with camouflage on them, blackened faces and bushes under their helmets carrying guns would cross examine them, and on one occasion told them it was lucky it was the cattle that was shot, that they (British Army) would come and get them in their beds some night. Lucky I did not know this at the time or I would have been a nervous wreck.
All I ever wanted when I was living at the Border was peace to bring up my family and a livelihood to do so. I even stopped the road being filled in on Bloody Sunday, January ’73. As I was afraid of some person being shot or loose an eye with a plastic bullet. I got the road filling changed from Corragunt, Knockatallon.
At first the roads used to be blown up by the Army and this was terrible. I remember the army coming up about six o’clock in the morning and a big pane of glass falling in the children’s room, part of it on the children’s bed.
Before we left in 1983 we were nervous wrecks. My husband lived in fear. The children had learning difficulties at school I had a miscarriage on the 10 December 1981 and had to go to Monaghan hospital. I had a heart complaint which deteriorated over the years.
The hardship I endured and my family over those years – 14 years 1969-1983 were like a long nightmare. I try to forget it, but I know the scars will remain with me always.
Dympna Treanor, North Monaghan