The farms of the two Foster families of cousins lie side by side; their lands straddle the Border between Derrylin and Ballyconnell, where they have farmed for many generations. Evelyn Foster’s (née Keyes) recently deceased husband ran a successful butchering business in Ballyconnell and farmed up to 130 acres. His father employed 20 to 30 people, mainly Catholics, at one time. Evelyn married into the Foster family in 1974 and the couple had six children, whom they reared during the Troubles. She recalls hearing gunfire over the house, when she and her young family would have to take cover under the kitchen table. Her youngest son James now runs the farm.
Mervyn Foster explains that the narrow lane which leads to both farmhouses had been spiked and cratered during the first Troubles. He gave permission to the neighbouring farmers in the Republic to use one of his fields as a passageway to the North, and he recalls seeing pigs being smuggled across the Border on many occasions. The structure of his silage sheds bore the evidence of crossfire during the years of the Troubles. Good relations were maintained between the Fosters and the Nationalists in the South, he explains, and they attended services in Ballyconnell church on Sundays. Occasionally, post for the Foster family would be processed through the post office at Ballyconnell without any difficulty. Evelyn and Mervyn explain that, during the very difficult years of the Troubles, they “just got on with it” while hoping that trouble would never reach their door.
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