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Errigle - a snapshot in time

I am indebted to family members who supplied pictures

Errigle circa 1948

Photography by Maureen Brush. My aunt got a box camera when she was 20 and took photographs round the farm for about ten years until she got married and left home in 1958, thus establishing a historical record of that time - this image shows the dwelling which remained fairly much original for about 170 years, until modifications started to be made to it in the mid 1950s

One thing that I remember about grand-dad Allen was that he smoked a pipe. He was allowed a 2 ounce "Walnut Plug" every week and either chewed it or put it in his pipe; a lot of the old-timers did the same. Other neighbours were Geordie Eagleson and  Joseph Allen who lived up the lanes on either directions.  All the older generation smoked pipes in those days, and I recall them calling in each other's houses, the      women in those days were a quieter lot. We were gathered round the stove or the open  fire and it was cosy and the Tilley lamps produced the light and emitted a hypnotic noise and you had a sleepy feeling. The room was blue with blue layers of smoke from the pipe smoking, mixed with an aroma from the burning turf; the younger men would have used cigarettes. They would have swapped various brands, discussed the merits of using tipped or un-tipped cigarettes, whether to smoke Gallagher's Blues or Greens.  No drink was consumed in the house as Granny Allen didn't approve of it; it was reserved for the  pub. On the odd occasion, poteen (from the Irish Poitín) was introduced. It was a home made operation; spirits were manufactured in a distillation process in an out of the way still. I can't remember the exact ingredients but the proof was very high and there were tales of people being taken ill or going blind from drinking it. The men told yarns mostly about farming activities, past generations and neighbours. There might have been the odd ghost story thrown in too. Plans were made to harvest crops or take animals to the market and the Tyrone Constitution or the Tyrone Courier would have been read from one page to the other. It was great to see boyfriends of my aunts coming to call as part of their courting included having to sit in with the rest of the family and my aunts would have impressed them with their baking skills, producing cream cakes and apple tarts, so that meant that I got treated to the cuisine too. When the 12th July celebrations took place (Orangemen's Day) grand-dad Allen didn't leave the house as he got older, but the younger generation would smuggle him a bottle of stout behind Granny Allen's back when they came home from the parades. I recollect my late Uncle John  bringing an Ale Plant from Lizzy Miles who lived at Fallaghearn to Grandad's house in Errigle about about 50 years ago. They kept it in a glass sweetie jar with the lid on and kept adding warm water, sugar and treacle to it and kept supping the liquid from it. (It wasn't alcoholic, otherwise Granny Allen wouldn't have allowed it) Being young at the time, it was hard for me to remember it exactly, but I thought that it resembled a sponge and some folk would have said that it in fact was a fungus. It would have been kept for a while and eventually thrown out, I suppose after it got a bit putrid. The most likely explanation as to it's make-up is that it was Bee Wine - so called because it made a faint humming noise. It was the basis of ginger beer when flavoured with ginger root, or it could also be flavoured with garden herbs.

To make it, a 'bee' (a small bit of fresh yeast) was put into a jar of water and set on a sunny windowsill. It was fed it with small quantities of sugar or honey. When the water became clouded and yellow, it was drained off, flavoured, and bottled. The jar was filled with fresh water and sugar and re-started.

Another "plant" that was grown, which really was not a plant was the Buttermilk Plant, similarly in a jar and it was started off with a blob of butter and yeast in milk and water solution in a well scalded crockery jar It was cover and put in warm place to ferment and left until it smelt like buttermilk. The liquid was stained off for and used in making soda bread. It could be kept going by pouring tepid water over lumps in a strainer to wash and returned to the vessel, adding more milk or milk and water to make more buttermilk.

                      The turkey house (the previous dwelling)

This was the turkey house, it is now demolished, but it was the original dwelling that  was lived in, when the three Allen brothers came from County Armagh in the mid 1800's. It had a door and one small window, because there was a tax levied on the amount of windows, hence the expression daylight robbery

An early picture of the Allen farmhouse - it was like this for about 170 years

Photos supplied by Maureen Brush

Allan Anderson and Dennis Allen - ref 023

Photos supplied by David Allen

Laurence Allen - ref 001
Photos supplied by Mervyn Allen

Grandad Allen and Ivy Allen - ref 040
Photos supplied by Joan Allen

Family at Derrychannon Cottage - ref 049
Photos supplied by Maureen Percy

Paul and Nigel Allen in front, anon behind - ref 060
Photos supplied by Jean Allen

The Original Allen dwelling

The same Allen dwelling, in the background is shown here to the right of the location of the present bungalow

This was where the three Allen Brothers from County Armagh lived in before settling in Errigal, Garvaghy and Techany