Ben McHugh’s father, Patrick Joseph, was creamery manager in Swanlinbar. His son joined him in 1950 and took over as manager in 1962, a post he retained until the closure of the creamery in 1969. Ben was a member of Sinn Fein and was actively involved in the promotion of the party and in organising meetings. He also served as secretary of the local GAA club and was involved in training teams. He discusses his role in the IRA campaign of the late 1950s, describing in detail the incident which led to his arrest and three year sentence of internment in Crumlin Road Jail. During this incident, in August 1958, IRA member James Crossan was fatally injured. Ben further recalls an incident which occurred one month earlier, when his neighbour and friend, Paddy McManus, died as a result of the premature explosion of a device. Following his release, Ben McHugh maintained his Republican ideals; in 1980 a younger group replaced him and his peers. He describes the years when the British frequently blew up Border concession roads and how, after Sunday Mass, members of the local community would repair the damage, to make them navigable again. He reiterates that the IRA fight was never sectarian but constituted a fight against occupation by British Forces. He insists that he would never condone the shooting of a member of the police force.
This collection, carried out by Irish Life and Lore on behalf of Cavan County Library Service, is funded by the EU Special EU Programmes Body Peace IV fund under the objective to build positive relations with people from different backgrounds and communities to support peace and reconciliation.
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