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Local History

Little Bit of History

Some snippets from the past, which might be of interest to our readers.

Going Back In Years.

This is just a compilation of what may be snippets of interesting history of various aspects of life in Monaghan during the past two centuries. The 1st edition of the Northern Standard appeared in 1839 and we have taken some information from that source and other bits from Council Records and other sources.
In 1839 there were three streets leading off from the Diamond and there was a square at the Markethouse. Peter’s Lake was known as Monaghan Lough and the Convent Lake was called Spark’s Lough. Public lighting and in some shops was switched on in 1823 and caused quite a stir as large numbers of people gathered to see the spectacle. There was no train in Monaghan at the time and to get to Dublin you travelled by Stage Coach to Drogheda and got the train there for the rest of the journey. However the Ulster Canal was a busy route and causing a big influx of visitors to Monaghan. There was a sailing from Monaghan to Belfast every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Agriculture and Linen were the main industries of the area and one of those linen mills was at Mullan. It later changed to woollen and the Bullock Serge of Emyvale became world famous. In Monaghan, where the Convent is now, was once a Brewery owned by Messrs Warren and Gillis. It was handy to have one close by as there were 42 ‘Porter Dealers’ in Monaghan town which had a population of 4,130.
In 1839 Pork meat sold for 40/- per cwt. (1/- was worth 5cents in present day Euro.); Butter was 7d per lb (about 2½cents); potatoes were 2/- per cwt (10cents).
Monaghan was prospering but unfortunately the Courts were busy too. There were a big number of cases on the waiting list for the Spring Assizes. These included – 13 for murder; 5 for rape; 16 for robbery; 2 for forgery; 2 for assault; 3 for exposing child; 3 for pickpockets; 1 for wounding; and 1 for pig stealing. There was also a waiting list for the Petty Sessions and these included 71 criminal  and 30 civil cases.  In 1839 Glennan was well known for Furniture production and Glaslough for Delph.

Going back a bit further in time to 1752 when Bryan Smith was paid £1 – 16s – 9d for the destruction of 254 rats, 17 kites, 19 magpies and 7 scald crows.

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In 1948 there was a meeting held in ‘McCluskeys Hotel’ ( this was the building now occupied by Nancy and Jim McCluskey on Main Street, where teachers, Gardai and custom men among others, were lodging) to decide on setting up a committee to organise games. There was a split decision of those present  between Badminton and Table Tennis and the later won on condition that Badminton be formed at a later date. The Committee elected was: Chairperson – Ms Mary Skinnader (now McQuaid);  Vice Chairman - Sergeant Smyth; Secretary – Patrick McCarron; Treasurer – Seamus McCluskey; Committee – Maura Hoban, Annie McCluskey, Patsy McCluskey and Garda Kane.

In 1949 – what did Emyvale look like? There was electric street lighting which was ahead of the times. There were 60 houses and about 200 inhabitants. Many of the houses were recently built and so in good shape. However there were others and they should have been knocked down. There were a few empty spaces and it was hoped that the Council would build something on these. Among the inhabitants there were: 6 Grocers; 3 Publicans; 2 Butchers; 1 Coal and Potato Merchant; 2 Carpenters; 1 Shoemaker; 1 Cycle Mechanic; 2 Bread Servers; 4 Dressmakers; 5 Civic Guards; 5 Teachers; and the rest were ‘labourers’. There was one Doctor, Dr. Leonard, who was also Coroner for North Monaghan. Emyvale and Emy Lough were described as ‘Tourist attractions’ with over 50 at Emy Lake daily during the Summer. There were about 100 workers in the Boot and Shoe Factory in Mullan and about 30 employed in Emy Mills making hayrakes and handles for shovels, spades, sneds etc. and brush backs.

Of course the annual Emyvale Sports Day was a huge attraction and in 1940 they were organised by a committee led by Donagh PP Rev J.J. Ward. St. Patrick’s Pioneer Band and Davagh AOH Band were in attendance. All events had big entries and there was great competition and a fantastic finish to the Ulster Junior Half-Mile Championship. However there was also disappointment as local lad, John Curley, who was Ulster Youth Cross-Country Champion and Junior Half-Mile Champion failed to retain his title and it was won by a P.J. McQuaid, from Armagh. This was caused by him feeling unwell and entered against his will but could not finish the race. Local lad, Dan Neeson, who was a noted sprinter, won a number of the sprint competitions and thrilled the crowds with his speed. The Cycle races provided plenty of excitement as Kevin Connolly had to ride the final two laps without the saddle and he still won and in another race there was a huge pile-up of riders just at the finish line. The youth events caused keen interest among parents and the schools’ Relay Race was a tough contest. I don’t know who won that one. The Fancy Dress had some magnificent outfits - A ‘Minister of Defence’ on a donkey led a section of the local LDF (FCA); a German Parachutist; another was dressed as a Turfman and his Ass and Cart; a chimney sweep and his wife (no doubt black as you boot) and many many more.

The Day ended with a football match between Truagh and Castleblayney. The Truagh team was – John Moan, Eoin McMahon, Peter McMahon, John Gormley, Barney Treanor, John Treanor,  John Kelly, W. Kilroy, J. Coyle, Owen McKenna, J. Kelly, Pat McAree, John Connolly, Dan Neeson and J. Sherry. Truagh won 1 – 4 to Blayney’s 0 – 2.  

In September 1940, due to the work of Charles McCluskey, Monaghan Vocational Committee organised classes in the Emyvale Parochial Hall. Over the winter months there were day and evening classes in Domestic Economy for ladies and Woodworking for the men. A Thomas Gallagher was the Woodwork instructor.  In March 1941 there were prizes awarded to the top six best in the Day and the evening woodwork classes. These were attended by the CEO and the Chairman of the VEC and other dignitaries and the prizes were presented by Mrs McCluskey. Everyone was high in their praise of the quality and number of items produced and these included tables, beds, sideboards and other household furniture as well as wheelbarrows and other articles useful in the farmyard. There were so many items on display that someone described the Hall as similar to a huge Furniture Store. The prizes were in the form of tools and implements useful on the farm or workshop.  The winners were: Day Classes – 1. Seamus McCluskey, Emyvale; 2. John Finlay, Emyvale; 3. Tommy McCluskey, Emy; 4.  Hughie Treacy, Cornacrieve;  5. Peter Soraghan, Cornacrieve; and 6. Raymond McGreevy, Emyvale.  The Evening Classes – 1. Patrick McKenna, Drumanelly; 2. William Holland, Ballinahone; 3.  Michael Kelly Rossarrel;  4. Stephen McPhillips, Emyvale; 5. Tom Donaghue, Knockakirwan; and 6. Garda Michael Kilroy, Emyvale. In all over 40 participated in the woodwork classes, and it was stated that the numbers attending these type of classes in Emyvale were not matched by any other area in the county.  Mr. Charles McCluskey congratulated all and thanked the various people involved. He encouraged everyone to join the classes being organised by the Vocational Committee for the Emyvale area and he hoped that one day they would provide a dedicated building for these type of classes. (That did happened when the old Vocational School was erected at the top of the town and was used by many groups until it almost fell apart and the council used the site to erect the current small housing estate).