Brian Daly remembers picking potatoes on wet days to earn a "few pound" in his younger days
was born in the 1970’s. My father is Paudge Daly originally from Coolraine on the Clara Road, Tullamore and my mother is Sheila O’Brien from Fenter, Killeigh, born and reared just across from the graveyard. There are six lads, Ollie the oldest then Aidan, myself, Joseph, Gerard and Damian. All boys, no girls what a handy life my mother had! We are all living locally and never had a reason to leave. My father came from a big musical background and his sisters were masters at playing the accordion. The musical talent however completely missed all of us for some reason. My grandfather, Joe O ‘Brien use to dig all the graves in Killeigh and worked all his life for Frank Mc Donnell on the farm and now Aidan continues it.
School days began in the old school where the GAA grounds are now and we moved to the new school in 1988 when I was in 3rd Class. That was massive day for all of us going to a brand new school especially when we had been use to prefabs, concrete floors and the cold and damp. I remember the old school, the lunchroom with big long benches and Ms McElduff the teacher, who everyone loved. We would all gather outside before school started and maybe have one tennis ball between us playing before the bell would go; innocent times. Then when we moved into this brand new school, we thought it was brilliant. Tom Flynn, a man from Ballyfin, was the principal at the time. Killeigh back then was a simple village, everyone knew everyone, small numbers but it has grown in numbers over the years.
I then went on to Tullamore College briefly, only done a couple of years as one day I was in the village and I met Pat Hinch and I asked him was there “any chance of ‘ol job?” He came up to the house the next day and said, “as long as you can wear a pair of boots, you can have a job with me”. The following week, I packed in school and started my job with Pat in 1994 and stayed there until he retired in 2007 and I moved on then to Tullamore Pipe & Drainage Cleaning and am there ever since. I can say, I’m happy out with what I am doing and think I’m relativity good at it so there is no reason to change. Maybe if Pat didn’t retire, I probably would still be there but who knows.
Growing up, I best mention how we made a few pounds. Jim Plunkett’s farm on wet mornings picking spuds or John Howell’s up in Killurn and a good few of us also picked daffodils for Stewart Wallace down in Annaharvey and out on the Clara Road. Most evenings and weekends, if we weren’t picking potatoes, we were picking daffodils. That was a big part of my introduction to work and also gave us a few bob. It was hardship but sure getting the few pound was all worth it. I think we got paid £7 and for a long day £10 but it would keep us in lunch money and a few bags of chips thrown in too. I remember John Howell leaving big crates in the field to put the potatoes in so the more you filled, the further you were from the crate and looking back you’d think would one ever get it filled , but it stood to us – hard work never killed anyone!!
Growing up, I played a bit of GAA but because I had bad asthma, I couldn’t train much and play a full match but GAA was a big part of Killeigh and I just wanted to be part of it, but my breathing wasn’t the best. One great memory is where we were heading for a match in Rahan and Paubi Condron pulls up in his Toyota Corolla hatch back car and loaded all of us in, could have been 10 or more. If I recall correctly, the boot door wouldn’t even close, one of us had to hold it down the whole way to Rahan. Anyway we all headed to Rahan and when we arrived, I think most of us rolled out of the car. An evening or two later, Paubi drove down through the village with a calf in the same car! Great times. One of the unusual hobbies I had growing up was making and flying model airplanes and still is today.
We use to cycle to Tullamore on a night out and leave our bicycles at where Heffernan’s shop is now and head down town for a while. Many a time you’d come back and the bike would be gone, some other lad from Killeigh would take it to get home and you might end up walking but you’d always get the bike back the next day, no harm done. You could have got a taxi but you’d always be trying to save the few pound for the next night but we always got home safely. Camping also was a great part of our life, growing up going into the fields and having mighty craic or cycling up the mountains, with my breathing I found it easier to cycle than running.
My first pint in Killeigh was in Joe Malone’s pub at the time, I might have looked a bit on the young side but sure he didn’t know and then Matt Doyle came along and now of course Willie Grennan. The shop was served by Jimmy Gallagher, now Liz and Frank Gorman.
One other memory is when my Granny died and back then, not everyone had a house phone so our relations contacted Joe Plunkett at the post office and I remember so well Joe coming up and knocking at the door. That’s how a lot of people got news back then, ring the post Office and Joe would deliver the news. Jimmy Moran also used to deliver the post in Killeigh, on a Honda 50 with a box on the back for all the letters. When he would stop, he’d put the bike up on the stand but the back wheel would still be spinning, I was fascinated as a child looking at this and I guess that was the start of my love for motorbikes. That started my interest in vintage and modern motorbikes and over the years have gathered a little collection, maybe spending more time and money than I should on them but it’s a great passion of mine and of course the Honda 50 spending endless hours refurbishing old ones until I get them up and going . When Jimmy retired Joe Plunkett then took over after that as postman and the sound of the Honda 50 was no more!
Killeigh was small, the boom times didn’t effect Killeigh too much compare to other villages, we just gained one housing development Milbrook and that was it. Killeigh stayed small and rural which is great but perhaps the catchment area has grown.
The phonebox in Killeigh was also very important before mobile phones came and I remember one time something happened the phone and word got around that it was letting people make free calls. Us young lads were sitting on the Green and then a queue of people formed, all waiting to use this phone. I can still picture it today, I think some of them rang America and even as far as Australia!
Moving on, I met Claire in 2003 and was renting a house in Tullamore for a short time when I met Liam Gleeson and he told me he was going to sell his house in Hillview Cresent so we bought the house and are here ever since . We have three children, Lorna, Kevin and Aoife, the youngest who is the boss of course! This estate is great, lovely people and everyone watches out for one another. It’s kept by the residents and the council use to cut the grass but now we look after it ourselves.
Killeigh Soccer Club, I would like to congratulate the committee on their development; so many kids are involved now including my own. One man that must be mentioned and that’s Frank Mc Evoy; not only his involvement in the development of the soccer club but as a neighbour and friend and he is solely missed. Frank was the first person every child met when they started in the club and overall he was just a lovely person. His humour and manner was always the same whenever you met him and he was loved by everyone.
My involvement in the village over the years would be getting the defibrillator into Killeigh. Having been made aware some years ago of the importance of one in Tullamore where a life was saved, myself and a small group got together and organised a fundraiser of a vintage run. The proceeds from that raised enough money to buy two defibrillators - one is located at the playschool wall in Killeigh village and the other one is mobile one held by Cora Brady. Hopefully it may save a life if required.
Another achievement was in 2019 myself and Claire decided to go into the Harriers and with the help of another local, Pauline Curley, we started off walking and in no time she had us jogging then lead me on to a 5km. Then in the same year, I did a 10km and done a 15km and finished off with running the Tullamore Half Marathon. I couldn’t believe that it was possible for me as my asthma has always held me back so if I can do it, anyone can.
Finally growing up, the Macra hall was massive part of the community, so important for our age group back then because it brought us all together. It was a meeting point; we were too young to be in a pub so it was safe place to be together. For me I suppose due to my asthma, I couldn’t do much GAA so the Youth Club was different. Geraldine Dillion use to run the little shop down there and she would let a shout out now and again if any of us were acting “the Maggot”. Great memories playing basketball, indoor soccer, badminton and all that goes with a Youth Club. I have real fond memories of the hall.
I am so looking forward to the development of the new community centre as I know what it will do for the youth in particular and if they have half of the memories I had growing up, well it will be brilliant for them. It will bring the whole community together again and the village has been missing that for some time. It will bring different age groups, different part of the community that have different interests. That one meeting place that will gel everyone together. When the Macra Hall went into disrepair, we had nowhere to go as youngsters and use to hang out in the Ball Alley but it wasn’t the same. I guess it just took a small number of people to get together and see it through so I wish them every success. There have been so many kids that have missed a community centre over the years but looking at the future, many more will gain from it so it’s great to see.
Killeigh Community Centre Development Association needs your support! If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a fantastic new three-bedroom house in Enfield valued at €355,000 or €300,000 cash and support our fundraising efforts, please visit www.winahouseinmeath.com
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