Monica Rudden grew up in the family drapery business, known as Twomey’s, in Ballyconnell. She explains that in 1921, while her father was on the run, the Black and Tans commandeered the Twomey premises in the town centre. Monica’s earliest memories include the occasion in 1932 when she was brought to Dublin during the Eucharistic Congress, and also the Friday 1st September 1939 when WW2 broke out. Her father travelled to Dublin that weekend to purchase extra stock for the business. In 1950, Monica married Danny O’Reilly and the couple took over the Rudden business in Ballyconnell. She describes the great contribution to business in the town by the Protestant population in the North, though she explains that a threat always hung over the town once the Troubles began, because of the local safe houses offered by some people to the IRA. On one occasion, a riot in the town resulted in a baton charge by the local Garda Siochána and the Irish Army were brought in to regain control.
Retired schoolteacher, Kieran Maguire, who taught in the neighbouring village of Bawnboy and who was present during the recording, recalls with Monica the two dancehalls in Ballyconnell: The Catholic Star Ballroom and the Protestant Tom Regan Hall, each of which both communities frequented. They also recall concerts and performances by travelling groups in the 1940s and 1950s. Finally, they reminisce about the fair days in Ballyconnell, the Fever Hospital in Bawnboy and the untimely deaths there of Monica’s two young aunts who had contracted Spanish ‘flu.
Recordings available via Cavan Co. Library Service