Growing Up In Ballycarry - a Memory of Ballycarry.
I have many valued memories of growing up in Ballycarry during the late forties and fifties. I lived at No. 1 Rookwood Terrace (now, I believe, No. 2 Hillhead Road), with my grandad, John MacAuley senior, my mum May Wadley and younger brother Johnny Wadley. Times were much slower then, hardly any cars in the street, allowing us children to play there, in relative safety.
When our front door at No. 1 was locked we just put our hand inside the letter box to get the key which was hanging on a piece of string inside. I suspect all the houses were like that.
People were always in and out of each others' houses to have a chat and a “wee drop of tay” which came with a small plate piled up with breads and cakes, and who would want their dinner after that kind of feed!
We didn’t have electricity for a while and had oil lamps for light. It was my job to keep them full of oil and clean the globes and wicks. It somehow wasn’t the same when the electricity was put on.
I don’t recall having running water (memory getting vague here), when I was younger. I remember going up Main St to collect water in buckets. At the bottom of West St near the top of Kennedys Parade was a water pump. However, if we really wanted the best water we went up to a continuously running tap between the butchers and Kennedys’ house. I was really pleased when the water was finally put on, again I don’t remember when.
When it was approaching dinner time I would be sent up to the dairy to buy some fresh buttermilk to drink with our meal. I didn’t like it but the rest of the family loved it.
The boys and girls sometimes played together, after school and even in the winter evenings I remember playing:
rounders and skipping in the street (mostly girls),
marbles with the boys; I don’t think they cheated!
Down the planton and being given a turn on a swing that one of the bigger boys had hoisted between a couple of trees. It was the biggest swing I had ever been on. What fun.
A group of us going down to the old castle and lighting a fire to bake our spuds, eating them blackened skins and all.
In the dark up West St, tying thread to the door knocker and taking it with us to the other side of the road. Once safely hidden in the ditch pulling the thread to knock on the doors. People coming to the doors to see who was there. It worked really well! I don’t ever remember getting caught.
Coming down West St on the sleigh when snow had fallen. Of course someone had to be at the corners to shout 'All clear, no cars coming!'. Sleighs were shared (Billy Kennedy always let me have a loan of his), and sometimes two of us went down together on the one sleigh. It was quite an art to turn either right or left at the bottom into Main St (innocently unaware of any hidden dangers).
I remember going to the old school behind the Old Presbeterian church for a short while. When the new school was opened all children had to walk to it carrying something with them, probably helping to save some removalists' costs. I had to carry a chair.
For a time there was a cinema almost opposite the old school. Occasionally the film being shown would break down and we in the cinema would yell and stamp our feet until it started again.
There used to be “wee meetings” which would be held behind Mr. Lamont's grocery shop, up some stairs into what seemed like a loft. There we would sing Christian choruses and learn to do the actions to the words, including stamping our feet on the floor. I have no idea who ran the meetings, only that it was good fun.
Sunday was for going to church. I used to go to the Church of Ireland. If the bell started ringing before I left I would have to hurry up to get there in time. However, if we managed to leave home before the bell we would call in at the corner shop to buy our sweeties to suck on during the sermon at church. Nessie or Maureen (maiden names King - married names Nessie McHugh and Maureen McCready) would sell us them. It was hard to choose from the many big glass jars gleaming with all sorts of delicious treats. Thruppence would buy us lots of sweeties and sixpence, well sixpence was a fortune. One day my grandad sent me up to Nessie to buy some elbow grease and I dutifully went to purchase it. Nessie had a great laugh and she said “You tell that Uncle John to behave himself.” She was his niece, her mother Jeannie being Grandad’s sister.
In those days the housewives would sometimes need “wee messages” (buy something from the shop) and would ask one of us children to go to get them. We were always obliging for we knew there was a thruppence or sixpence for ourselves and we would immediately rush up to Kings to buy our sweeties.
In 1960 when four of us girls passed our exams to go to Larne Tech (Deborah Robinson (now Brown), Barbara Thompson (now Robinson), Lesley McCausland deceased, and myself, Frances Wadley. We girls had to walk down the hill to Ballycarry Station to catch the train for Larne, and at the end of our school day walk back home up the hill, rain or shine.
Going on a holiday, and never intending to leave Ballycarry, I met my husband to be, so never went back to live, but my childhood spent in Ballycarry has given me many many happy memories.
A memory shared by on Oct 21st, 2008.
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