Local Stories

An Entrepreneur Born on the Streets of Maghera: By Conor O’Kane

An Entrepreneur born on the streets of Maghera.

When I was around 5 years old my dad had a joinery workshop on Glen Road. There were always a few trimmings and cut-offs lying around from the various wooden products he’d make. From these, myself and my friends would make bows and arrows and toy guns. We’d also steal a few sheets and planks to make tree houses and huts. If anyone was to dig up around what is now Fairhill Park they’d find the remnants of these old huts. This used to be a field in which we spent our summer months play fighting around the ruins of the old Fairhill school.

One day the entrepreneur in me kicked in and we discovered a wonderful use for the left-overs from my Dad’s work. At this time central heating was only for a few futuristic people. Everyone else had a fire and used sticks and coal to heat their homes. Myself and my neighbour filled turf bags with sticks. We got my dad to lift them onto a wheelbarrow and off we went on our trade mission along the houses of Glen close and Glen road.

Our customers were more than happy to hand over £1 for a turf bag of fire-lighting wonder. In a day’s work it wasn’t uncommon to get £10 – £15 between us. Although our entrepreneurial skills were working overtime at this young age, our savings and investments’ strategies needed some work. We’d take our sales for that day and make our way straight to Patsy Cassidy’s shop. (Now Kelly’s Eurospar). In those days £5 or £10 would buy enough sweets, ice lollies and lucky bags to cater for a party of around 30 children.

I loved my early days in Maghera. It was a wonderful, friendly town where everyone felt like family. I owe my current business skills and bad teeth to the story above