Paddy Boyle in Dromantee

Eventually Paddy Boyle settled, in a way at least, into married life with his wife Lily. He continued to work for local farmers, but his pace weakened and his every step became like a genuflection.   He sent his wife Lily into Dundalk to beg.

They reared a family in a one-bay slated house in Glen Dhu in Tiffcrum. Paddy and Lily had never bothered with high-falutin’ things like school – so they were astonished one day when the school-attendance officer called at Glen Dhu inquiring as to why all their children were not attending the local national school.

Such a thing was no better than state-sponsored kidnapping to their way of thinking.   To take their children away all the daylight hours? And without recompense? The very idea. 

Besides, by then a number of the children were of an age that they could be sent out to earn a living of sorts. Paddy and Lily refused point-blank to contemplate it.

When next the school-attendance officer called, he was accompanied by the local RUC sergeant.   All the children, Paddy was told, would have to attend school – or be moved to an ‘approved’ school.

You can see by this that they meant business.   Even in those days, they used words like ‘approved’ when they meant “what you surely wouldn’t approve of”.   It conveyed a thinly-disguised threat, and was intended as such! 

(such abuse of language was the exception then, whereas today it’s the rule!)

Paddy and Lily were to surrender the children to ‘care’ (a word meaning, if anything, the opposite of its dictionary definition) as early as the following morning.

Overnight, Paddy, Lily and the children fled in an ass-and-cart across the border to a roadside shack at Roscreagh, County Louth. Beyond their jurisdiction, the RUC could only watch them and do nothing!

It was some weeks before a compromise was worked out and approved by the RUC and the Gardai. The family could return and only the youngest girls would have to attend the local national school at Dromantee.

Paddy, Lily and the family returned to Glen Dhu.

It was a long time later when we neighbours learned that Lily and her family moved North (by which, in our district was meant anywhere to the north of Markethill!) leaving Paddy alone in Glen Dhu.

Some years later, Paddy, not being able to stand life alone, followed them.

The last word we heard of Paddy was one day when we were out saving the hay. From our vantage point in the same fields as mentioned earlier, we could see across the valley. 

Four or five large and brilliant black cars pulled up in convoy to the graveyard beyond in St Patrick’s. 

Lily and the children were the first out.

Paddy Boyle had returned at last,

to be buried in the place that he loved the most,



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