I go up there very often, to the house that they were all born in. Their house was in Castletown in Castleconnor but the house was deserted for years and then a man bought the farm – it was a very small farm. The man who bought it has re-roofed it and he holds hay in it.
I go into the house – the keys are hanging around it and I would get the keys and go in – illegally, you know – because he didn’t know for a long time – but when I used to go in and remember how it used to be and the old fireplace – part of it is still there and the wall over it is white and I put my name on it in Irish.
And I was down the town of Sligo one day and I had to go to the Barracks to get some form signed and the girl in the Barracks got the form and she signed it for me and everything and she said, “You’re Eddie Armstrong,” and I said, “That’s right,” and she says there’s somebody looking for you here and she said hold on and this guard came out. He was in plain clothes and he said, “Oh, I was looking for you. You be up in Castleconnor,” and I said I do and he said, “Well, I’ll tell you what we’ll do now – wait for me outside the door and we’ll talk about it.”
I thought I was in trouble – didn’t know what was wrong. So I went out and I couldn’t think of his name but he says, “I’m the man who owns the house where you go in and write your name on the wall!”
He says I understand Irish and I made enquiries about your name from the traffic warden who comes from up there and he told me your life story and he says you were the rent collector for the Corporation. So he says, “You’re quite welcome to go into the house any time you’re up there.”
I often go up there and go into it then into Enniscrone. I have relations there.
(My father’s story and photograph formed part of a great exhibition called ‘From The Feet Up’ in the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo. The stories were collected by Maura Gilligan and each story-teller was photographed by James Fraher.
Thanks to them for allowing me to reproduce my father’s contribution here.)