I am Desmond Love and this is my story. I grew up in and around the town of Dromore, County Tyrone. At that time my family was living in a very poor house. It was a council house and it was called Magherygart out near Jenny Gooden’s shop. The cottage was cold and damp and when mother put paper on the walls it would always fall off again.
We had a good neighbour, she was called Chris Gooden. She would tell my mother to send one of us children up with a bottle and when the cows were milked she would give us fresh milk.
Jenny Gooden who had the shop was no relation, as far as I know. Jenny always had a habit of saying “Glory be .. just imagine” especially if anyone cursed. She would sometimes come to the door in her dressing gown and she had a big stick that she might skite you round the ear with, if you were bold. She was a stout wee woman. Her hair was probably very white but she kept it well dyed up. Her face was wrinkley but she liked to keep her face well powdered. She worked in the shop and she had three sons, Fran, Michael and Tom who helped in the shop and would deliver coal and groceries, in a big lorry. If you didn’t watch out she might sell you a blue moulded loaf of bread, she would just not have seen that it was bad. Her son Tom sold groceries and sweets from a mobile shop around the country. Her daughter-in-law, Rosaleen who got married to Tom kept the shop going for a while until it closed down.
When I was still young my mother and father died. My father was very handy about the house. He could cook, he would bring my mother down a cup of tea in bed and he would get us children out to school. He was a clever man; he could tie his own laces and sew on buttons, wash the clothes and do anything you could name. I remember him sewing a patch on an oul pair of overalls with a big hole in the knee. First of all he clipped off the back pocket and said “There’s no need for this here”. Then he sewed the pocket patch on the knee as neat as you like and clipped off the material that wasn’t needed. He did a lovely job.
My father was out on his motorbike one very foggy morning and my father was killed one very foggy morning by a man in a car. The man who killed him did not stop and his Morris Minor car dragged my father away down the road. He was caught by the police and although he said he did not do it, the judge said he did do it. My father was taking my sister Violet to the dentist that morning because she had been up all night with the pain in her teeth. A while after this my mother died. So I moved in with my sister Violet and her husband in to the town of Dromore.
Her house was at 5 Main Street and it was a good house but it could be very noisy. Violet didn’t like the noise so we moved again. Violet’s husband, Brian Cunningham bought some ground off Mrs. Dorothy Marshall to build a bungalow. We lived in a mobile home until the bungalow was built and we lived in the bungalow until it was sold.
I was a good little boy. My father was called William Robert but people called him Robbie and he was a foreman. He was strict but he liked to tell a joke. His job was to make sure that the rivers and drains were kept clear of rubbish and in proper working order. This was a very important job and kept the place from flooding. He often got old bicycles and did them up so that they were as good as new. He met my mother Patricia and fell in love right away.
His father was called Robert Love and he was my grandfather. I do not remember him myself but I saw photos of him. He had a glass eye and a big handlebar mustache. My grandfather had fought in a war and that is how he lost his eye. I am not right sure what the war was about or where it was fought. I heard tell that it was The First World Boer War, whenever that was.
I had two brothers they were called Bert and David. David is dead now. I had sisters as well Carol, Violet, Isabel and Edith. Edith never was able to speak and has epilepsy, like me.
When I was wee I had rabbits called Snowball and Matilda. I also had two guinea pigs they were called Shirley and Goldey. They ended up having a very big family. At different times I had pet lambs, pet mice, and a Guinea rooster who made a wild lot of noise at night. He was a big silver spotted boy. But he was a torture and wouldn’t go in to the henhouse at night. We had to try to throw a bag over him. I think he was afraid of the big red rooster; there was always a row on between them. At different times I had three dogs, I even had wee pigs. At Camphill Clanabogan, this year I had eleven runner ducks, a white Aylesbury duck and two black ducks and a big drake. One night in November the fox came and took some of them. We found their feathers in the bushes down at the bottom of the field. I’ve been helping put up a strong wire fence to keep the fox out so I hope he gets no more.