The O’Neill’s have farmed the land at Fartrin for three generations, and Aidan O’Neill took over the farm from his father Hugh. He describes the decades after WWII as being tough times, with much emigration from the area. His two sisters, Monica and Maire, left for Belfast to find work and his Catholic neighbour, Phil Fitzsimons, joined the security forces in the North. When the Troubles broke out, this young man was unable to return home again for fear of his life. Aidan joined the FCA in the early 1950s and remained a member for forty years. He describes an occasion in 1981, when the IRA attempted to intimidate the FCA and the town of Ballyconnell following the death of hunger-striker Bobby Sands. The FCA group was playing basketball when they were asked to stop playing, but Aidan explains that they refused to be intimidated and that they cycled through the town with their guns on their backs. When the FCA authorities in Athlone heard of this they were appalled that such a threat should have been issued. Aidan O’Neill was promoted to Quartermaster in the FCA and he expresses his pride in attaining this position, and also in the medals he won for marksmanship during the years of his service.
Recordings available via Cavan Co. Library Service