Drawing of the book cover Water Under the Railway Bridge by Bill Gerty

13 Lisa Fee



Life settled down to a sort of routine in Killyran, we got up each morning, those of us who went to school got our breakfast, which was usually a couple of slices of bread and butter or fried bread and we went off to school. We came home for dinner each day at twelve when we had some potatoes a slice of bacon or a fried egg, afterwards we had a mug of tea and a slice of bread and butter. I was then back to school until three o'clock. When we got home those of us who could do something around the house had a chore to do. Ernest and me had to dig some potatoes if it was that time of the year, then we had to bring in the cows and goats or go to Cosgrove's shop for some groceries. Vera and Maisie would have smaller jobs to do like feeding the hens, ducks and turkeys and making sure that they were all shut in safely for the night, bringing in the turf was another job done by the younger ones. As we all got older then we had more work put our way and this applied all the way down the line.
Ernest and me spent quite some time up at Liza Fees house which was just up the road from the station, this was an old thatched house with a small farm. The old lady did not live there at this time, it appeared that she had not been very well and had gone to live with her son some distance away. There was a flock of chickens and geese there and we used to go there after school cook some potatoes and meal for them, enough for a couple of days at one time. They had to be fed daily and shut up each night and let out in the morning. Grannie would come up sometimes to make sure that we were alright. We rented part of this farm for grazing our animals, growing crops and for cutting turf. Every year in May Liza Fee's son would bring a herd of young cattle and sometimes a pony and donkey onto the farm and these all grazed together along with our animals. We looked after all these until he took them away in the Autumn. There was always great excitement when we came home from school and were told that the animals had arrived and we used to run as fast as we could to see what had arrived. It was a daily job then to count them and make sure none got lost or fell in a hole as was often the case on the boggy part of the farm. Liza Fee did come back home in the Summer so we did not have the job of looking after her chickens and geese. She was a happy old lady although she had poor eyesight, before I went to school each day I had to take her a jug of milk, the old gander made me very welcome when he heard me at her door he used to run up and grab me on the backside. Anytime you went to her house you always got a slice of bread and jam.
We usually had our tea around six in the evening, bread and butter and sometimes a piece of cake. The last job to be done in the evening was the milking. In the winter the cows were indoors so milking was done with the light from the hand held
signalling railway lamp, in the summer we took our buckets to the animals in the field and milked them there. I could do the milking before I was ten having got used to the occasional flick of the cows tail in the ear hole. When I was around nine and Ernest was twelve we had a small row over something, I cannot even remember what it was about but Auntie Louie decided to teach us a lesson, there was a stick for driving cattle on top of the cabinet in the kitchen, it was about a metre and a half long. When she got this down it was plain to see that Ernest had seen this used before for he pleaded with her not to use it, this however had no effect and the blows rained down on both of us from every angle. When she had finished we were black and blue from our shoulders to our ankles. It was the first time that I had been beaten in my life. She could be as nice as anything one minute and for no reason change the next. It appeared that the big stick was the answer to everything. Uncle Eddie was different and although he might do a lot of shouting he never resorted to beating anyone that I can recall and dear old Grannie never did either.
I remember coming home from church one Sunday and John was standing outside on the platform, he was badly bruised it was obvious that the big stick had been out again, he was about seven at the time. After dinner I took him with me to check on the animals on the farm. It appeared that he was out playing in the Taylor's field across from the railway line and did not come in when he was called. At that time I had contemplated running away together but where would we go and if we did who would believe our story and what about those left behind, after all when we got older we would be able to stick up for ourselves.


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