Apart from fat profits made by ‘Spivs’ or ‘wide boys’ as we named them, there was the odd shilling too for those of us youngsters who possessed a bicycle. Those were few enough, and less of their owners willing and able to indulge in the ‘smuggling trade’ along the Fathom Line.
Tobacco and cigarettes were much cheaper in the Free State. These could be secreted in the tubular frame as the whistling ‘innocent’ owner sped past the Customs men at Buckley’s (now Davey’s). Indeed there might be more than tousled hair under the cap or hat on that head! Spools of thread were a popular smuggled item too. There were other hiding places too!
It wasn’t easy to fool those wary Customs men and some of our number had to take to the fields to avoid them. Contraband goods often had to be planted in dry-stone walls, to be rescued later when the coast might be clear. Buckley’s was a favourite place to stash the bike then while portable contraband was brought down from the hills.
Curious Customs officials were told we were just down in Omeath to ‘wet our whistles’, an expression meaning downing a few alcoholic drinks, which we also did since drink was cheaper there.
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