Thursday, 12 December 2013

Countdown to the Top 3 Most Popular Blogs on the Ballyshannon Area

Ballyshannon Musings has attracted a worldwide audience and for the next 3 weeks the three most popular blogs which received the most hits from viewers will be replayed. At number 3 is the poignant story of emigration from the Great Northern Railway Station in Ballyshannon in the 1890s

3. Farewell to Ballyshannon

 “Farewell to Ballyshannon” is a story which tells of a young local boy called Johnny being accompanied to the Great Northern Railway station in Ballyshannon, by his mother and his sister Susy, on the first stage of his emigration to America. The following is an extract from the story which reveals a continuous process of emigration from the Ballyshannon area and the sadness of those leaving and those left behind. The narrator and a friend were also on the cart to the railway station.

Johnny’s mother accompanied her twelve year old son on the horse and cart from the Main Street to the railway station on Station Road:

“He’s but a little chap to take the green fields to Amerikay alone. Ay surely!” said our carman, musingly. By this time we were rattling down the street, and over the bridge, from which we could see the silver spray of the falls below and hear the dull thunder. The other car was close behind, all the ragged retainers trotting cheerfully in its wake. “Is there much emigration from here?” one of us asked. “Ay surely”, said the man, “what else is there for them? Sure there isn’t enough to keep the life in the old bodies, unless the young goes away to Amerikay, and sends home the money. Och, sure, it’s the sorrowful place. If you was here last Wednesday you’d have seen a trainful starting for Derry. An’ the same every Wednesday since March. I don’t like to be about the station myself them times. It’s terrible hard for them to go.

We asked one or two sympathetic questions. He answered us flicking his whip. “There’s some,” he said, “tht’ll hold up strong and silent; and there’s others again, keenin’ worse than the old women at the wakes. There’s a girl now,” he broke off, pointing at a straight, handsome creature, who was just stepping across the street. “There’s a girl started for Amerikay, an’ kem home the next day. Ay, faith, it was the shortest voyage yet known in the town. She turned back from Derry. She said she didn’t give a thraneen for the passage money. She’d work her fingers to the bone to earn enough to keep the oul’ woman out of the workhouse, without lavin’ her childless. “ He said it with a certain admiration and added immediately afterwards, “ There’s not a handsomer nor cleverer girl than Nancy Goligher in the three baronies.”

Then he planted his feet firmly, as if he had talked enough, and began to sing in a deep baritone:

Farewell to Ballyshanny! where I was bred and born;
Go where I may, I’ll think of you, as sure as night or morn.
The kindly spot, the friendly town, where every one is known,
And not a face in all the place but partly seems my own;
There’s not a house or window, there’s not a field or hill,
But, east or west, in foreign lands, I’ll recollect them still.
I’ll leave my warm heart with you, Tho my back I’m forced to turn-
So adieu to Ballyashanny, and the winding banks of Erne!

It was the song of a townsman who had won the delightful immortality of being the ballad maker to his birthplace. Under the circumstances the song sounded curiously mournful. William Allingham’s ballad “Adieu To Ballyshanny” must rank as one of the finest and saddest emigration songs of all times.

On arrival at the railway station some of Johnny’s friends came to see him off. The mother explained that he was setting out for Florida to join his father who had been there eleven years. He had been unable to secure work in Ballyshannon. Each year one of the children emigrated to join him in America. Only her self and Susy remained and they would follow on next year, when they could get the fare together. The story concluded with the train ready to pull out and the strains of Allingham’s famous emigrant ballad, “Adieu to Ballyshanny”, are whistled by the young boy who was joining the many people from the locality forced to emigrate by economic necessity.

In 1894 Katherine Tynan, well known novelist and poet, wrote the original story, “Farewell to Ballyshannon” about this young boy’s departure from Ballyshannon.

50% Reduction on postage for orders for this book to all destinations. Genuine special offer from author.

Ideal local gift for Christmas and all special occasions. 

Contact for further details and for orders of the book.

Signed hard back and soft back books available at special  price for postal delivery or collection. 

A New Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

A new book entitled: "Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene.

The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. 

The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before.

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek, Rossnowlagh and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence struggle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Book Available from Anthony Begley West Rock Ballyshannon.  Enquiries welcome for postal and other details. Also available at The Novel Idea Bookshop Ballyshannon, Ballyshannon and District Museum and The Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

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