Local Stories

A World of Possibilities

mhs-a-world-of-possibilitiesOn 24th November 2016 in the Heritage & Cultural Centre Hilary Richardson, who has been involved in Guiding for over fifty years, shared her experiences with us. Hilary spoke about the opportunities guiding afforded her for travel in Europe, India and South America. This interesting, informative and well-illustrated talk showed us the value of the guiding movement as well as giving us an insight into other cultures and ways of life.

Hilary, a retired schoolteacher, is a member of Ballinascreen Historical Society

Local Stories

Football and Me

Kenny ShielsKenny Shiels gave a very personal and insightful talk in the Heritage and Cultural Centre on the 15th December which looked beneath the surface of his long and successful career in the world of football. The event was very well attended and all there really enjoyed the evening. Our thanks to Kenny for such a thoughtful overview of his life and times. While the focus of the evening was obviously the ‘beautiful game’ Kenny’s approach and his professional presentation made his story accessible and interesting to everyone.

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

Local Stories

From the Beagh To Maghera: Growing up on a Family Farm in the ’50s. By James Armour

FROM THE BEAGH TO MAGHERA: Growing up on a family Farm in the ’50s

By: James Armour

Editor: Maeve O’Neill

Publisher: Maghera Historical Society, Maghera, ©2015.


From the Beagh to Maghera is a first-hand account of growing up on a family farm outside Maghera in the 1940s and ‘50s. Set in the moment when the tractor replaced the horse and mechanisation changed farming in Ireland forever, it poignantly captures, with a warm heart the joys and struggles of farming life in a close-knit rural community as seen through the eyes of a child who grew up in that period. This book is firmly rooted in a particular time and a particular place. It is a heartfelt glimpse into an era that is lost forever and that still tugs on our heartstrings.


The author explains how his great-great-grandfather came to farm at the Beagh in 1866. Since then four generations of the Armour family have continued the tradition. From the Spring ploughing, harrowing and sowing to the Autumn threshing, the age-old customs and practices of farming are recorded in detail as they were passed down over time. The farm itself is brought to life, the fields named and the farmyard and homestead illustrated. From 1949 until 1986 the author’s mother, Maggie Armour, kept a diary of events on the farm. These descriptions of everyday life and the warmth and closeness of the community add another dimension to the book.

The home was at the heart of the farm and the litany of weekly tasks, all carried out without electricity or running water are also remembered as are Soirees and Guest Teas in the local school, visiting with neighbours and life in the town.