I spent the first fifteen years of my life on my grandfather’s farm in the townland of Lisraw. The routine was school, farm work, hunting with dogs and ferrets and, rarely, playing with friends.
I enjoyed my school days at Taniokey School generally but I didn’t much fancy the three mile walk when it was pouring down. Public transport was a rare commodity and it was usually Shank’s mare! If you were lucky, you had a sandwich at lunch time- hot meals being unheard of! Frequently the better-off children shared their sandwiches with the less-well off ones. Some of our clothes left much to be desired, and quite a few came bare-footed. Get wet in the mornings and you sat all day in damp clothing! You might be dry enough to get wet again on the way home.
My father Abbe Hanna was one of nine sons whose father was William James Hanna, a farmer from the townland of Lisraw. Father was the oldest of the nine and when war broke out in 1914 he joined the Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic (photo above).
He joined the RUC when he was demobbed. When I was born he was stationed at Jonesborough. That was 22 September 1925. There was an armed attack on the station that night! The adjacent cottage where mother was living also came under attack. The midwife never made it to assist her in childbirth. Father acted as midwife and defender of the police barracks. Mother was on a mattress on the floor under the window, with bullets flying, when I made my appearance. A number of policemen were injured but the defence held and in due course the attack subsided. My two older sisters were present and frightened of course.
When I was about six months old my father got itchy feet and emigrated to Canada. He planned later – when he got settled down – to send for mother and the children. The call never came and we had to fend for ourselves.
I never knew my father – nor indeed did my sisters as they were very young when he left. We learned that he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and served a number of years. In 1981 my wife and I visited Edmonton, Canada and a RCMP Information Centre. I got talking to an old boy (in his eighties) about my father arriving in 1928 and joining the Mounties. The old fellow’s face lit up: he had served many years with my father and had been friends. My father, he confirmed, had died about five years previously in 1976. My mother had died the previous year at the age of 83. She never had remarried.
Abbe Hanna, my father, was well known about Poyntzpass in the early twenties: he was quite a character and a ‘rough diamond’ when roused.