My Memories of Border Roads

My memories of Border Roads goes back a very long way, in fact the late 1940’s when you were not allowed to go by car over the border (by unapproved roads) you had to go via a Customs post and have your “Bond Book” stamped in to Eire and likewise stamped again when you were coming back North.

The unapproved roads were ok – but not for motorists.  Going via a customs post put 20-odd miles to our journey to Sunday School and Church which was a weekly trip in our little “Morris 8”.  Years later the unapproved roads were closed by blowing up a large crater in the road and they were completely impossible to cross over therefore anyone wanting to go across the border had to go by the “Customs Post”.  Later in the late 50’s by this time I was attending Grammar School in Eire (I lived one mile from the Border).  It was quite a job to bring our bicycles over the “trench”.  Our “Big” school was four miles away ( no school buses to bring us to a “Big” school in the North). 

After agricultural college I commenced work in Northern Ireland and a few years later the border road one mile away had its very own Customs Post and I took up employment in Eire.  I had a few scary experiences during my time there. 

I later got married in my “Eire Church” and set up home in Northern Ireland – still just six to eight miles from the border.  Sometime later the roads all opened – craters filled and Customs Huts not any more.

(Back in the 50’s)

When the Customs Huts were open, one morning my uncle was having his Bond Book stamped and the customs man came out to the car and found he had a saw for cutting down trees which he had bought in Eire.  The customs man did not hesitate to take the saw and his Bond Book and we were not able to go into Eire in the car for about a month (we had to cycle to Church).  Eventually it was returned and the saw.

I had a similar happening in the 60’s when ‘Foul Pest’ was raging.  I was discovered at the Customs Hut with a plucked turkey on the back seat.  I had brought it home to have plucked by a neighbour for my employer’s wife.  I had to act quite shocked at it being in the car and had to tell a lie that it was my own and had it plucked by a neighbour the previous evening and had forgotten to remove it from the car to hang it up.  He was very decent and allowed me to go back home and hang it up.  I got a customs man whom I contacted later in the day and he brought it for me across the border and he left it at a friend’s house where I collected it and delivered it next day to my employer’s wife whom I never bothered telling her about my experience.  No word about salmonella etc. in those days.

A neighbour who lived at the border did quite a bit of smuggling was moving a few young cattle through the fields to get them over the border (no ear tags then).  He had another man waiting for to take them on but it was night time and a voice said “I will help you”.  It was the Customs and they seized the lot.

Ann Morrow, Lisnaskea

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