1944 Secret Weapon Invented By 2 Durrus Men at Experimental Stage
Working on the Bog
There was significant distress and little local employment except for seasonal work on the extensive bogs at Barnagaoithe, Clonee, Glanlough, Liseenacreagh. The largest bog (15 to 20 acres) was at Glanlough and it was owned by Sonny Clarke, Sullivans (Ballinvillan), Ward and Love families. For the duration of the war it was operated under the control of the County Council who employed a staff of around 50 from March to October to save the turf. Many of the men were employed with their horses or ponies who also worked in the bog. Glenlough bog was worked by men from the general Durrus area, many of whom travelled many miles on foot to get to work. The Lisheenacreagh bog (owned by the Trender and Daly families) was somewhat smaller and operated by men from the Ballydehob area. The turf when saved into sods 9”x 1’ was transported either directly to Cork by lorry or to Bantry railway station and thence to the Cork Hospitals. One of the trucks was driven by the late Mrs. O’Callaghan (who later owned the Bantry Bay Hotel), then of O’Donovan’s Cove, Ahakista, another by her brother Jackie Cronin.
The day started at 8 am and apart from a dinner break of an hour went on to 5.45. The pay was 35/= a week. There was dissatisfaction with working conditions and a short lived strike of one day towards the start. Some of the workers such as Eugene Crowley Ahagouna and others rented adjoining bogs at Barnagaoithe and worked late in the evening. Turf from these was sold privately to people in the village or out west Goleen and Toormore. In nearby Lognagapall Bog in Caheragh the Council operated a bog with difficult working conditions. A strike commenced led by Michael Pat Murphy. It succeeded in improving conditions and was to launch his career as a Labour TD and Parliamentary Secretary.
Timber was cut from woods such as that of the Rectory which at that time extended to the pier. The area around the community field on the Dunbeacon Road was forested and these trees were felled with two man saws. The larger logs were sent to Fullers of Skibbereen and the smaller were cut up as firewood. This was taken to Cork by Jacky Cronin for sale.
There was a big trade in rabbits which were caught in snares, with ferrets or dazzled. The price of rabbits went from a half crown (2s 6d) to 3s 6d and were bought by Jackie Cronin, Tom Dukelow, Sea View, the Creamery and O’Sullivan, a dealer from Dunmanway. There were newspaper ads letting lands for trapping as that of the Cronins at O’Donovan’s Cove and other ads preserving lands and complaining of the damage caused by ferrets, dazzling and general trespass. The Durrus River had a good run of salmon and it was not unknown for a salmon to be speared under the creamery bridge with a hay fork. There were no artificial manures; sea sand and coral were used and were landed at the ‘Sand Quay’, opposite the former Good Times Café. Just after the War there was agitation for a new pier and it was stated that there were 3 sand boats operating and 16 scallop boats. Fertilizer was scarce for a number of years after the war and the late John Crowley (late creamery manager) recalls in 1947 marine wool from the Bay laid out on the road from the Sandquay (the former Good Times café) to the former Cronin’s forge. This was a good nutrient. Post war sand came by lorry from Barley Cove, the Burchill family were active in this trade, together with ground limestone and chemical fertilizers re-appeared. In former times townland had a traditional right to a part of the shore. For example just off the strand is a rock called Carrigeen Cúl na h-Orna. This sub townland is north of Clashadoo about 3 km away but the farmers in that area had the exclusive right to take seaweed from there. It seems like the other townlands had similar rights.
Oats, barley and wheat were grown for the farmer’s own use and were threshed on the farm. In earlier years threshing was carried out by horses turning the machine in a circular fashion, Harnedys of Dunbeacon had such a machine. Among the threshing machines in the Bantry area was one operated by Peter O’Neill (Peter Neal), he was also a cattle dealer of Ballycomane. It was jointly owned by Jacky Cronin a local businessman but Peter worked it with his crew who included Eugene Crowley, Ahagouna, Jack Connolly, Gearhameenn, Bernie Kelly, Ballycomane, later Sonny Hosford, Kealties. Like the Whellys of Mealagh the machine went to West Waterford when the local threshing was done. The machine ended up rusting in Pete’s yard after the combine harvester came in. The later threshing machines were owned by Crowleys of Colomane, John McSweeney of Drumsullivan and the Whelly Brothers from east of Bantry. They would normally spend around 6 weeks threshing in the district from September and then go on to West Waterford where the activities continued until February. Jack Attridge of Gearhameen built his own threshing machine which operated successfully for many years. Tractors began to appear and the first in the district was around 1940 and was owned by Jack Shanahan, Dunbeacon
Some improvement works were carried out. In 1939 sanction was given for a loan of £560 to develop the Durrus sewage system. In the same year compulsory purchase orders were issued dto authority the acquisition of land to build labourers cottages at Gearhameen (Flynns), Ballycomane (Flynns) adn Rusheeninaska (Coughlan) as well as multiple other sites around WEst Cork
In 1945 John O’Mahony was associated with the Farmer’s Association Later Party (John Dillon and P O’Neill were also involved) and claimed that due to lack of fertilizer he only achieved a yield of 7 stone per acre despite putting out 16 stone of seed. There were lectures on improved techniques of potato growing and in 1945 drainage works in Parkanna employed 10 men.
Life went on as there are references to dances in Bantry, Ahakista and Ballydehob and races in Kealkil and Mallow and Ballydehob, many associated with the LDF. In 1941 Durrus races were held and attracted local entries and also from Baltimore, Kinsale and Drinagh with at least 6 horses in each race.
Dancing in these years could be in Bantry in the Town Hall where Spillane’s shop is near the Catholic Church and in the Boy’s Club after 1950. The Town Hall was also the venue of plays put on by strolling players such as Anew McMaster and Frank O’Donovan, in particular during Lent, when there was a 6-week embargo on dances. A Fourpenny Hop in the Green Shed near the Ouvane Falls Inn Ballylickey was popular from 1933 until the late 1940s, as was Vaughan’s Hall in Kealkil. Many of the dances were associated with the LDF as were sports of ‘Aeriochts’ in the district. The Durrus LDF Shooting team won the District Shield in 1943.
There were often large crowds at venues such as Dunbeacon Cross near the school on Sunday afternoons for patterns and returning from scores of bowls crowds of up to 150 were not unknown. Another pattern was sometimes held at Gearhameen at the coast crossroads.