Married just after the war when accommodation was at a premium, Johnny and Mollie Flynn rented two cramped upstairs rooms in Newry town until they could afford their own place. When Johnny read in the newspaper of a cottage for rent in Mullaghbawn he lost no time in applying.
When they got the cottage, Johnny changed his ways. He’d been big into Gaelic and took the odd pint at weekends, but now he threw himself into the house and garden. In the end the whole place was spick and span, like a new pin and the garden trim and sown in vegetables. But there was a field beyond.
Johnny was up at the scrake of dawn one day, determined to tackle this field. When Mollie called him for breakfast, he ignored her and worked on. A few hours later Mollie went out to investigate and there was Johnny at the bottom of this enormous hole, still digging away. Eventually he emerged.
‘By God,’ he says, ‘And isn’t that a beautiful hole? What do you think, yourself?’
‘Are you telling me you’ve been here all day digging a hole? Sure what use is it?’
‘I’ll put it in the paper and sell it, that’s what I’ll do’, he says.
Paddy Murphy read the ad in Frontier Sentinel. He took the bus for Mullaghbawn.
‘Are you the man with the hole for sale?’
‘I am,’ says Johnny. ‘Are you interested?’
‘I am,’ says he, ‘But I’d like to view it first.’
‘This way’, says Flynn, with an extravagant gesture. ‘It’s a bloody great hole! Satisfaction guaranteed!’
‘By gab!’ says your man. ‘She must be thirty feet deep. I never saw a hole like her in my life!’
To make a long story short, they agreed a price and a sale. Then he began to think.
‘I’m living in Newry and the hole’s in Mullaghbawn. How am I going to get her from one place to the other?’
‘Well,’ says Johnny. ‘There’s always the Ulster Transport Authority.’
‘Right enough,’ says Paddy, ‘I’ll go now. Good luck and thanks for the deal’.
At the UTA depot in Newry Paddy explained to the clerk.
‘I’m after buying this hole in Mullaghbawn. She’s beautiful. Must be forty feet deep. I’d like to hire a lorry and six men to bring her back to Newry.’
‘Fine!’ says the clerk. ‘I’ll have a lorry and six men out there straight away.’
Paddy waited all day but no hole arrived. Eventually he had to go to bed. He got up next morning at the scrake of dawn and went to the UTA office to complain.
‘I bought this hole,’ he said to the manager,’ without equal. As near fifty foot deep as makes no difference and broad to boot. I hired a lorry and six men from you to take it in from Mullaghbawn, and damn the hole I’ve seen yet! What kind of service do you call that?’
‘You’re right!’ says he. ‘Who took your order?’
‘That wee red-haired man there!’ he pointed.
The manager called him over.
‘Mr Gibson, this man’s telling me about this hole he bought. What have you to say?’
‘Ach,’ says Green, ‘Are you the man that bought the hole? Well, I sent a lorry and six men. After struggling with this hole for seven hours, they eventually succeeded in placing her on the back of the vehicle. But there’s a wild steep incline between here and there and the hole fell off the back of the lorry. The men were trying their level best to get the hole back on, when the lorry fell into the hole.
The men then tried to haul the lorry out of the hole when they fell in themselves.
We haven’t seen sight nor hair of them since!’