On 13 September 2017, Ciaran Maguire organised a group meeting in Cloneahy Community Hall, with the purpose of gathering and recording information on the effects of the Troubles on the local community. First to speak was Oliver Brady who lives close by, and he explains that he came from a Republican background and that the house he occupies was once owned by the McGee family who had bought the land in the 1930s. Years later, Josie McGee married Walter Jameson and the entire McGee clan moved to the North. In January 1974, Oliver’s mother, to her dismay, heard on the radio of the death of UDR member Robert Jameson, son of Walter and Josie Jameson. Oliver explains that he operated on the fringes of the Republican organisation and was aware of some movements taking place. He describes the differences he experienced in their approach to the community of the UDR, the paratroopers and the Scots Regiments.
Brigid O’Reilly married and came to live in Ballyconnell in 1950, where she and her husband ran a successful business until the Troubles broke out and everything changed. She clearly recounts the difficulties encountered when travelling North across the Border, and the resultant disruption to community life.
Following her marriage, Margaret McKenna lived on the Northern side of the Border in an area between Ballyconnell and Derrylin. The family farmed on the Fermanagh side of the Border, and when the Troubles broke out a British checkpoint was erected at the end of their drive so that each time the family left or returned to their home the barrier was lifted for them. “The English boys were ok” she says.
Ciaran Maguire is a schoolteacher, now retired, as was his father, and he has lived in the area all his life. He explains that most Protestant farmers owned better land historically than did Catholics, a situation which had always created some tension within the community. He discusses in some detail the differences which are inherent between republicanism and nationalism, and explains his belief that as time went on, the penetration of informers into the Republican movement affected the organisation in the time leading up to the Good Friday Agreement.
Fr. John Phair grew up in Killashandra and his first appointment in ministry was to Miltown in 1976. Four years earlier, in December 1972, Geraldine O’Reilly from Belturbet and Patrick Stanley from Clara, Co. Offaly were killed in Belturbet by an exploding car bomb. Geraldine O’Reilly’s mother was sacristan in the Catholic church in Belturbet and was well known to John Phair, who explains that she never recovered from the trauma of her daughter’s death. When the Troubles began, Fr. John Phair’s work was immediately affected by the closure of roads; prior to this time, travelling by the community between Teemore and Belturbet was normal, he explains. In 1979, he was appointed to ministry in England, where his welcome was less than open-hearted at a time when the murders by the IRA of Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and a local boy were to the forefront of the public mind. Shortly thereafter he was appointed to a parish in Co. Leitrim.
Recordings available via Cavan Co. Library Service