My late father was born in Tillig in a little stone house, which is still standing. It was in Watson’s farm. This little house must have been build by Lord Egmount because any other houses would have earth walls and thatch roofs. He went to school in Buttevant to a schoolmaster who according to him was no flat. You learnt or you didn’t. He had one lit-tle weakness, he was fond of the ‘little drop’ and he often had a bit of a hangover on a Monday morning.
On his way to school there was a cross, it was called ”Kits Cross”. There was an old woman living there called ‘Kit the Lucre’. My father would bring her messages. Other children were afraid of her. She had a little thatched house on the corner as you turned up the Templemary road. It was a simple structure, just two rooms. My father often talked of hard times as no doubt they would have been then. He spent a lot of his time around the ‘Horse Shoe’. It is now called ”The Crossroads”pub. It is likely that there would have been a forge there one time. On the Churchtown side of the pub there were two small houses there. A blind man and his two sisters lived in one of them. In the other one, someone that married one of the Treacy’s of Churchtown. Another story he told happened at Heffernan’s. This family owned Dunbarry House, which is Alex Kiely’s now. When he was young he used to rob orchards.
At that time all farmers kept bulls and every person was in dread of them. It was inside that orchard he kept the bull. Being con-fined all the time made the animal more dangerous. When the time came to sell him, they didn’t know how to catch him. For he would come tearing down if anyone went near the gate. They eventually sold him and he was to go to Buttevant station. A little man with a hard hat and a cane asked the way to where the bull was.
When he arrived he took off his hat and rolled up the legs of his pants and took off his coat. He then told the workman to open the gate. The bull made straight at the man. He sidestepped the animal at the last minute. The bull was mud fat. He caught him by the tail. In about three minutes, the bull fell down exhausted. He put a halter on him and walked into Buttevant station.
I had two aunts who went to America. We used to get American papers sent home. I remember one of these. It was the time of the Linberg episode. I can still see that ladder up in the house as I saw in that paper. Another great thing I used to follow in these papers were the comics. They used to be “continued”. When the batch of papers would arrive they were not white, they were a brown colour. Jules Verne wrote some of the ma-terial. So, you see it was quality reading as well as being adventurous and exciting.
My grandfather told the story about when the church in Buttevant was built. There was a levy put on every house in the parish. The Bishop of Cloyne officially opened it. The people from here walked across the fields. It was a November day and when they arrived it was teaming rain.
Like the church today there were problems too. When the local people arrived they weren’t allowed near the church. The town people brought their own chairs to sit on. My people weren’t allowed in because they had no chairs. Also, to get inside you were to have a ticket, which was two shillings and six pence. If you wanted to get up near the al-ter you paid more. These tickets were to be got in Mallow.
As soon as the ceremony was over, the Bishop and his crew adjourned and they went away. It was then that the ordinary people were allowed in. They never saw the Bishop and they were disappointed. They were hungry, cold and miserable. And they still had to walk home those miles in the rain.
There is a bridge between Buttevant and Churchtown just below my house. It is called Curraheen bridge. Before the dredging was done after heavy rain ,the bog down here was like a lake. It was a great shooting place, ducks and geese, you name it. My uncle and grandfather had a flat-bottomed boat and would go out in the water. Then in the mid -thirties when a dredger began to clean the river, the remains of Elks were found. The Cremin family caught massive eels and pike, I saw them carrying them on their backs.
When we were going to school, we would have to take off our shoes to cross the bridge if there was a lot of rain. Tom Fitz. describes this as the one way ticket to the weir in Butte-vant. The one-way ticket was everything that died in the line of dogs, calves, pigs and any thing that was taken down by the water.
My late father worked on the railways. He spent a bit of time in Cobh. I suppose that was why I worked on the railway. I worked on the construction side. The bridges, stations and level crossings were my work. The area I covered was very large and including parts of the surrounding counties.
The quality of the work done on these bridges when they were built is to be ad-mired. They have stood the test of time. The foundations and the brickwork never yielded to the vibrations of heavy trams. I must mention the bridge in Kilcanway, that is one of the finest stone bridges. It was a aquaduct and a viaduct in one. It was a great and very skillful project. There were no pre-stressed concrete beams that time. I have also seen some beautiful work done on the railways in the Channel Isles. I have some relatives over there, which I visit regularly. I really admire the marvel of the work.
On the Dingle line, there is a bridge built on a curve. It has four or five arches; one could not but admire that structure. The magnificent stonework, due to its strength, never cracked or moved in any way.
I have been told that all the stone came from a quarry in Kildare. It built all the bridges. The stone was also dressed in that quarry. Imagine every bridge was actually prepared there.
I grew up and went to school in Churchtown in different times. Today the world is a dif-ferent place and has different values. Society is more tolerant of peculiar behaviour. Streakers have been seen in television screens, disrupting various matches and getting attention for various reasons. Years ago there was a streaker in Churchtown.. I for one did see him, so we could be more than sixty ahead of the rest of society.