‘I was born in Kilmore, Carrick -on-Shannon. I started off as a little gosún catching foxes in the mornings before school. At that time, you’d bring the fox in to the local barracks and you’d get seven and six pence for him. As it went on, we finished up getting 15 shillings. That was grand money, because there was very little money around our place.

After national school, I went to Carrick-on-Shannon vocational school. I played football for Carrick and Leitrim while there. I then went on to agricultural college in Athenry and from there, I worked on the UCD farm in Kildare, Lyons estate.

Carton Estate

I was there two years and then I moved to Carton estate in Maynooth, where I spent 17 years. I met my wife, Mary, she’s from there. Carton had been bought by three men from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, in the mid-70s, a thousand acres of land. We were milking 300 cows. We went down with mad cow disease. We had 899 cattle on the farm and one cow brought the whole lot down. It took a week to draw the animals out of the place.

I will never forget it, it was awful. When the cows went, the thing just wasn’t the same. The boss, Lee Mallaghan, Lord have mercy on his soul, was always thinking about golf and when the cows went, it gave him a better opportunity. He got in investors; they have two golf courses and a hotel there now. I used to go up to the hotel every year although I have no interest in golf. I worked for the finest lads I ever worked for in my life while there.

The next thing, a job came up to manage Elphin Mart. We are only seven miles from Elphin so I applied for it and got it. At this stage, we had our three children, Derek, Garry and Jennifer. Derek was nearly finished national school in Maynooth so we packed our bags and came home to Kilmore.

Tough going

I spent 27 years in Elphin Mart, built it up and it is now one of the best marts in the country. People come from Mayo, Donegal, Northern Ireland, Leitrim, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon to sell and we have people travelling from the midlands and more southern counties to buy.

The mart had been struggling financially but I discovered a great bank manager, Seán Young, Lord have mercy on him. He was a great farmers’ man and he was a big help, especially when things were tight. We worked great together and slowly, slowly the mart got into credit.

I think a mart manager is one of the toughest jobs in the country. It’s a seven-day a week job; lads ringing you all the time about sales coming up and looking to organise sales. Then all the bother with cattle – the cow is not calf, she is in calf when she shouldn’t be.

It is one thing to sell cattle but another thing is to get paid for them. Some of our sales could go on until one or two in the morning and then doing the farming at home on top of that, it was tough going, tough going.

My father was farming at home and we were suckling cows. Now Mary and myself have 60 sucklers and I have 80 ewes, all ready to lamb next month. Derek and Garry are both involved in farming and all three are married and live locally. We have eight grandchildren and football is a big thing in our family – it’s big in this part of the country.

The Rossies

We are one of the smallest clubs in the county. We formed a GAA club in 1973. There was 17 at that first meeting. I was the youngest there.

When I was in Carton and Lyons, I was playing for Roscommon. I was going back and forth and, in those days, there were no motorways. I didn’t have a car initially and my first car was paid for in coins that I had saved up. We won a junior championship in 1975, an intermediate in 1981 and a senior in 1983. We won three big finals in the space of ten years.

I don’t think there are many small clubs around the country that would have done that.

I was involved in training the teams for a good many years. I was chair for four years. My sons are playing at the moment, we are doing well and hopefully that’s how it will keep going. Ladies football is getting very strong. At the moment we haven’t enough at underage to form a team of our own so we amalgamated with Shannon Gaels. That is the way it is with a lot of clubs.

I am back to where I started now. I am working with FRS [Farm Relief Services] and the Department catching badgers. I spend about six hours a day, five days a week at it. I work from October to May and I am off for the summer. I’m back home at one o clock and that is a grand way to be!

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