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Below are two poems written by Eileen Alderton nee McKinney who spent her childhood and early life
on a farm on the Ballynahinch side of Tievenadarragh forest which lies between the towns of Ballynahinch and Seaforde in County Down.
Eileen left for England in 1940 where she became a S.R.N. She later posted the poems to The Mourne Observer a local County Down paper, the house she once lived in is sadly now gone. Lily mentioned in the poem was Eileen’s sister she too went to England where she married becoming Mrs Miles.
One of her brothers ran a business selling oil from the farm, this he carried on for many years although latterly from a location on the Old Park Road which lies immediately behind their childhood farm.
There are still members of the McKinney family living in the locality.
The image on the right is an artists impression of how the farmhouse may have looked, perhaps sometime before Eileen's time, the watercolour shows the house from what would have been the front, click the image to visit the artists website.
If anyone can add more information we would be very interested to hear from you.
By Eileen Alderton
I remember my childhood, the safe happy days,
Roaming the woodlands, and country byways.
I remember the old house up a long tree-lined lane,
And the sparkling raindrops through our window pane.
And old well scrubbed table and scruffy armchair,
Quarry tiles on the floor, no rich carpet there.
My mother knitting or reading, or stitching,
My father there too, in that old farm house kitchen.
The oil lamp alight and the logs burning bright,
How secure I felt then on a cold winter’s night
The wind howling like a ghost from the dead,
The orchard in spring time with apple blossom laden,
The musty old cart house where I often played in.
My sister’s small garden with primroses bright
Playing out side till the last fading light.
Walking to school on warm autumn days,
Where the cobwebs reflected the bright summer rays.
Glistening from hedgerows like diamonds bright,
Dew drenched fine gossamer, networks of light.
Halloween nights brought their own kind of magic,
With hazelnuts previously picked from the glen.
Currant loaf with silver three penny pieces.
Would I be the lucky one this year again?
How loved Christmas with all its excitement ,
Stockings just bursting with goodies and toys.
Walking to mass at the hour before midnight,
Visiting the crib brought its own Christmas joys.
The old house is now empty and full of decay,
No welcoming lights at the end of the day,
Just sadness within me, as I stand here alone,
Only memories remain of my old childhood home.
By Eileen Alderton
Do you remember, Lily, when we were very small?
The primroses you planted, inside the garden wall,
The crocuses and daffodils, I almost see them now-
And the lovely apple blossom, hanging heavy on the bough.
Remember the weather-bleats in a summer evening sky,
And their little calls as they flew around up high.
You told me they were angels of baby goats long dead,
And being just a child, I believed every word you said.
The heather covered mountain, where the bees hummed all the day,
And the lonely almost hidden grave, where the young insurgent lay.
He couldn't' hear the blackbird‘s song, or the corncrakes raucous cry,
Nor the laughter of the children, as they played their games nearby.
In park beneath the tree, we’d play for hours and hours,
Midst the blaeberry bush and bluebell, the primrose and windflower.
We never felt a trace of fear, as we played there all the while,
For we’d never heard of terrorist or evil paedophile.
We would climb the Boghill mountains, and look as far as the eye could see,
To the distant Mourne Mountains , and the outline of he sea.
To the homesteads and the Boghill gate, where the gypsies parked their caravans,
AS we stood beside the cairn of stones the locals called The Standing Man.
Then down the Boghill road we ran, to where the three roads met,
Down the road and through the gate, a slower pace to set.
WE would pass the bog, where you once said you saw a snipe one day,
Then up the loanin to the house, tired and hungry for our tay.
WE would sit upon the settle bed and watch the flickering firelight,
And listen to the howling wind, as dusk turned into the night.
Perhaps out thought would turn to that lonely grave,
And we would hope that up in heaven, he would see the angels play.
The house is now in ruins, Lily and most the family gone,
And thou’ we are getting on a bit, the memories linger on.
They were the best of times, the worst of times
But it’s lovely to recall, those safe and carefree childhood days.
Below is the house from the lane or loanin as Eileen called it.
The house was a storey and a half at the lane end, it seems likely that Eileen and Lily shared the upper room, before the house was demolished the room seemed to have been decorated in feminine colours.
Looking towards the house