I am Raymond McNamee and I was born on the 23rd of January 1946, the eldest of four children, two boys and two girls. My father’s name was Joe and my mother’s name was Mary Annie (Lagan). I grew up on the family farm outside Maghera. The farm has been in the McNamee name for five generations, I inherited it after my father’s death in 1980. My son who is in the homestead would be the sixth generation of the family living on the farm.
After finishing primary school I went to Magherafelt Technical College, (The Tech). Then after my education, the opportunity arose to join the Ministry of Agriculture. When I first joined the Ministry on 17th August 1964 I was sent to Riversdale a small village about six miles from Enniskillen but I continued to help out on the farm at weekends and during the holidays. I always loved working with my hands and even to the present day I get a lot of pleasure from restoring old machines that would have been used on the farm in the ‘50’s and ‘60s. My pride and joy is the first tractor that came to the farm, the T20. I married my wife, Bernadette in 1972 and we have three children and eight grandchildren
Description of Farm
Our farm is situated in Tamneymullan just outside Maghera, the back wall of the house is the boundary between Tamneymullan and Moneymore. It was a mixed farm as most farms were in those days. Originally, the farm was approximately 20 acres but there would have been a lot taken in con-acre. In the ‘50s and ‘60s there was about 30 acres taken in con-acre.
In the past there were two lint dams in one of the fields, and a mill. Where exactly the mill was I don’t know, but I was told that there had been a mill in what we called the Mill Field and it got burned. The only remaining thing we have left is a heavy rectangular stone that was used in the mill. There is a small stream running through the farm between two of the fields and that stream was always referred to as the mill race.
We were fortunate to have a very good type of land, mostly a light clay suitable for all types of crops. The only field there was a bit of moss in was actually the field that belongs to St Pat’s College and is now used as a playing field.
Our land was all arable. Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, our main crops were potatoes, corn, grasseed and lint (flax). My father also kept livestock – cattle and pigs – we never kept sheep. The cattle were all bred and reared on the farm. My father always kept pure bred dairy shorthorn. We took a bull to Balmoral show one time it was called ‘Tamneymullan Monarch’ and it got a second place in the Dairy Shorthorn Class.
My father picked the best heifers from the herd and kept them for milking cows, the rest went for beef. Most of our cattle were sold as ‘stores’ in Maghera by Roy Crawford who was an Auctioneer and had a place in beside where Gormley’s pub is now. The dairy shorthorns were good milkers, we sent the milk to the creamery in Moneymore.
There was always a cow tail pump in the yard and it’s still there today. In 1931 my uncle sent money home from America for the erection of the pump which was bought from Henry Hugh McErlean, Magherafelt.