Down Memory Lane 1940/1950
A very well known saying was "The good old days". But there were bad old days also. Money was very scarce, hence a shortage of food and clothing.
The little villages of Carrigans and St Johnston had the advantage of being only 5 and 7 miles respectively from Derry City where items of food and clothing could be purchased much cheaper than in the Republic of Ireland seeing that the currency was the same. The Great Northern Railway Company provided a great service between the villages mentioned above.
There was a big snag here that caused the problems. That was the existence of the Customs and Excise officials many of whom appeared to get great pleasure from confiscating items as small as a loaf. In addition to the loss of the purchases there was a fine imposed by the Customs and Excise on the smugglers.
Many questions were asked as to where the confiscated goods ended up. A question and a story for another day!
People making the purchases came up with a plan. They decided that the purchases would be thrown out of the windows of the carriages and that somebody would be in a field to catch them. But again the Customs and Excise detected it. It became a no-go situation. In a second attempt, the female smugglers would put the soft items on the person. Again their plan was crushed. The Customs and Excise employed female Lady Searchers and again a lot of items were being seized as these Searchers were local. They were detested naturally and described as cheap and common. While not all Customs and Excise searchers were corrupt, a bigger rather than a small percentage were very unpopular.
By Bridget McKenna, June 2011