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On This Day 8th November
In 1934 the Irish government refused to pay the British government annuities on land. These annuities were loans dating back to the land purchase acts, and had formed part of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921.In retaliation the British Government imposed a tariff of 20% on all farm produce entering Britain for sale. This wasn’t sufficient to cover the land annuities, so the British Government increased the tariff from 20% to 40%.
Early on 8th November of that year the news was released. Several local farmers and cattle dealers, hearing the news, took their cattle across the Border to Belleek to escape the higher tariff. The following ballad is an account of the goings on of that day when the time limit was 5.30 p.m. As this ballad was held in the oral tradition, there may be slight variations in the wording depending on the source. In the pre-television age ballads on local events were very popular and the naming of local people added spice to the verses:
On the 8th of November the news it was sent,
That the tariff was raised to 40%.
From the town of the Erne there was a great drive,
And into Belleek they all did arrive.
When Gavigan heard it ‘Im thinking, said he,
‘I’ll put out my cattle and they will be free’.
Going up Belleek street he hit on a plan
and he put them out to his mother-in-law’s land.
At Belleek Station a meeting took place.
Pat O’Brien and his son were discussing the case.
Says Pat to the son, ‘Our big bullocks won’t thrive.
We must have them here at a quarter to five’
Bigger and McGinley they were in good time.
They came down the town at a quarter to nine.
Bigger he marched like a soldier to battle.
Says McGinley to him, ‘You have very bad cattle’.
Says Bigger to McGinley, ‘where will they sell?’
‘I don’t know, says Jimmy, ‘except down in Hell’.
When Willie Moore heard it he got all alarmed,
He and his men with ash plants they were armed.
His men took the cattle and he took the car.
‘Be careful’, says he, ‘Will they slip on the tar.’
You all know McFeeley – he’s our wee vet.
Beside Willie Moore in the car he did sit.
Said old Henry Vaughan to his brother that day,
‘We’ll go to the hut and the duty we’ll pay’
Tom he was sore and Henry was sick
They took it so bad at Thomas’ big stick.
They went to the men and they told them the news
Said Tom to the man who wore the white shoes,
‘Go get the cattle and do it in haste.
You are in charge and there’s no time to waste’.
Out the road they did go, all dressed in rags.
And following close was O’Brien and his stags.
Young Charlie Moore, being a new married man
Says he ‘I must get all across that I can’.
They came over the bridge with long standing horns.
In charge of a man called gallant Joe Thorns
When they had them loaded they came in so straight
Says Charlie to Josie, ‘I thought we’d be late.’
They pulled up at Breslin’s and there they got out.
‘Come on in’, says Charlie, ‘I’ll stand you a stout’
The Breslins went out in a vast motor car,
The women in the Port got a terrible scare,
They went to the fields and gathered their flock,
And Michael was taking side jumps at the rock.
Says Armstrong to Graham, ‘You must toe the line
Go out the hill for the lame and the blind.’
You’ll get the wee doctor.’ Says Graham, ‘Now hardly.’
‘Well if you will not, You’ll get poor old Charlie.’
The cows on the road were a pitiful fleet,
Some of them coulldn’t stand up on their feet.
He had an old cow with a back like a saw.
Another had four or five lumps on her jaw.
The Pattons had theirs at Cherrymount gate
Said Alfred to Georgie, ‘I thought we’d be late.’
‘It’s hard now, said Georgie, ‘the tariff to pay
But what can we do when we’re so scarce of hay.’
Patterson came to town and he gathered his men,
Two of them down to Wardtown did send.
Out to Carrignahorna the Swank he did go
And he came in the road with eight beasts in a row.
Old Paddy went out and he cleaned up the Camp
When he came in his throat he did damp.
Alfie O Neill was the man of the day,
For he whistled the dead March as Coy marched away.
The next man to come was O’Donnell Abu.
Says big Walsh to Paddy, ‘Now, who sent for you?’
Says Michael, ‘we’re robbed, our cattle didn’t fatten
And we’ve thirty three pounds worth of grass from John Patton.’
Paddy Coughlan was there with his head so red
He would have been better all Summer in bed.
Said he, ‘to make money it isn’t so handy
I’m robbed these few years by taking Parkandy’.
Wee John he was there with his tummy so fat
Beside him was standing his big brother Pat
At the end of the day when we were all leaving
Who should arrive but little John Slevin.
He had ten nice wee cattle as fat as could be,
Says Jimmy McGinley, ‘Now these would suit me’
He bid him for them, but they couldn’t agree
‘Never mind now’, says John, ‘I’ll put them to sea.’
Packie, the doctor he was in a fix
He had nothing to ate from nine to near six.
The land it is clear of all bullocks just now
Instead we will see the horse and the plough
We will never again hear the bullock’s big roar
The dog will be keeping the wolf from the door.
Now anyone mentioned need make no offence
For if you do you have no common sense
We had to give you your place in the song
I’m afraid my dear fellows I kept you too long.