Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Old Country Store by the Border

As far back as I can remember during the early years of my family back in Ireland my father worked for a farmer. My memory is not very clear on all of it. Either I was to young then to pay attention or two old now to remember.

One part is very clear in my mind. We had just moved, my father worked for a farmer who gave us a two bedroom house to live in. When I say house, it had a roof 4 walls and yes it did have some windows and a door. My father also got some food and milk for his work which is all we needed "right". My mother and Father had 4 small children at the time.

Ireland which was cut into two parts 26 counties which belong to free Ireland and six that belong to England which they won from us during the war. A war which went on for hundreds of year afterward between the Irish-IRA, and English B-Specials. (Details to get to the part of the story I want to tell.) The house the farmer let us live in was a block away from one of the borders that separates 26 counties from the Six counties. While most borders were heavenly patrolled this one was not. (One more boring part to the story)

The Border
From The store by the border

Everything in the six counties cost a lot more than it cost in the 26 counties. Especially cigarettes which even in poor time were in big demand.

My Mother who was a very smart woman saw an opportunity there. She bought some cigarettes and candy and gave them to my brother and I, who were the oldest of the children. We went out over to the border and when we saw anyone we asked them if they wanted to buy cigarettes or candy at a lot less money than they could on the other side of the border. We sold them all every time.

From The store by the border

As we made a little money, my mother was able to buy a little more every time. Next step, she had made enough money to buy a license to open a groceries store and she turned one of the two bedroom we had into a store. She put cigarette and candy in the little window. Even thought my Mother was legal, the people who came over the border were not. They were called smugglers. They most always came through the field and back allies there. The word got around fast about the store and on weekend people were lined up out side to get in. At night when the store closed it was turned back into a bedroom for the children to sleep in.

Many time the border was bombed by the B-Specials and the cigarettes and candy would fall off the shelf on top of us in bed. This was a great opportunity for my brother and I to get a few candy bars to take to school and it did not hurt when you wanted to make a new friend to have an extra candy bar in you pocket. My brother who already stole the Christmas candy was good at it.

I do not know how long we had the store. but I just remember my mother being pregnant with my youngest sister at about the same time things started to change. The cost of cigarettes and what food you could buy started to cost less in the six counties than in the 26. We call it today "The Circle Of Life". We moved on to another farmer,and finally my father's dream to own his own farm came true.

Picture were taken many years later when my sister and I went back to the old sod for a visit. We took Mum & Dad to visit one of the great chapter in their life. The four walls was still there but no roof widows or door.

From The store by the border

The field that held all those feet running to smuggle those cheaper cigarette still growing green, but the feet are gone.

I give this story and its great memories to my Mother. She saw an opportunity, she help her husband with his dream, also to their dream farm in Goorey and all her beauty.

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