My Story by Patsy O Hagan
My name is Patsy O’ Hagan. My father was Charlie and my mother was Martha. We lived Railway Road, St Johnston. I was born 2 June 1937. I had three brothers and three sisters.
I had poor health in my young years. I missed a good number of days from school. I was never at school from when I was 12 ½ years old.
My first job was odd days at gathering spuds or what is now known as Potato Harvesting. I started working at the age of 13 ½ years old in 1950. The wage was £1 a week. I started at 7.30 pm until 1 am.
I looked after the electric plant that serviced the village of St Johnston. Also, I served petrol and oil at the fuel pumps. At the age of 14 years, I was paid £1-2 shillings and 6 pence. I did numerous jobs while employed by E J White. I looked after animals – cows etc - and washed motor cars. I helped deliver coal, turf etc with a donkey and cart. Later on I used a lorry. I was driving the Hackney Car at the age of 16 ½ years old.
At the age of 18 years, I worked in Scotland with building contractors. I worked on the buses with “Glasgow Corporation Bus Conducting” and in Singer’s Sewing Machines Factory. I spent time in Birmingham, England, working. Later I took up employment at the Swilly Valley Mills, Ballindrait. And also drainage work for the OPW - Office of Public Works.
My hobbies and pastimes were playing football, cricket and card games.
I went to the dances in Kinnycally Hall every Wednesday night and to dances in the AOH Hall St Johnston. I went to the Old Hall in Muff long before “Borderland” and St Mary’s were built. I went to the Fowler Hall in Burnfoot. I remember Barn Dances at Long’s Barn, Binnion, St Johnston. There was entertainment in the Orange Hall, St Johnston and St Columba’s Hall, Newtowncunningham and the Fiesta Letterkenny, the Marathon Hall Raphoe, the Paladrome Strabane and the Butt in Ballybofey.
I enjoyed the pictures too. There was a weekly showing at the A.O.H. Hall, St Johnston every Tuesday night. A Boyce man from Ramelton provided this service. We went to the Ritz in Raphoe, the Ritz in Lifford and the Odeam in Derry.
I married in February 1961 and moved to reside at Ballindrait where I remain after moving house twice only. Now I am remembering how I lived through the years of the Steam Trains and the Oil Lamps and the Candles. We found it hard as a community dealing Custom and Excise with its excessive and harsh “smuggling” regulations.