My earliest memories of Ballyveane goes back to the early 1920’s when there was a total of 27 families living in the village – a population of 104. Fourteen of the families were Coynes, called the Coynes Mora and the Coynes Beaga. I remember Fr. Ned Lavelle reading out the Christmas/Easter collections – he called out the Coynes by referring to their fathers of mothers names. Most people paid 5 shillings or7-6p.
The people of the village got on very well together and enjoyed themselves by visiting one another’s houses, playing cards or telling stories around a big open fire (of course we did not have the luxury of electricity or gas then). Everyone was welcome and the doors were always open as we lived in a crime-free, violence-free world. We could organise a house dance or crossroads dance on the spur of the moment as there were always enough people and musicians in the village to provide the music and dancing. Many a set I danced at the top of the new line in the 1930’s
Between 1920 and 1930 emigration took its toll on the village. In 1921 my eldest sister, Mary, emigrated to America. Of course we had an “American Wake” to bid her farewell and by the early 1930’s I had seen six of my brothers and sisters leave for America. My brother, Michael, emigrated to England in 1933. A total of 28 people emigrated from Ballyveane to America between 1921 and 1930 (when emigration was stopped).
The population of Ballyveane was greatly affected by migration also. I remember the first family to leave the village. In 1926 Pat Dunleavy, his wife Mary, 5 sons and a daughter moved to Caherduff, The Neale. There was great excitement the day they were leaving as the lorries arrived to remove the stock and furniture. Even though they were leaving to enjoy a better life we were all “croi-briste agus bronach.” Since then there has been a great friendship between the people of Meath and the people of Ballyveane.
Money was scarce in the 1940s/1950s. I remember selling a bullock for £10 which would be worth around £400 now (but then, of course, you could buy a pair of pants for 10p!) Dole became available in the early the early 1930’s and no one in the village owned a car until 1968.
Standards of living improved immensely with the coming of electricity in 1957 and thanks to Telecom Eire my sons, and their families in America are now only a phone call away.
Unfortunately as people emigrated, or left the village and setteled elsewhere, the population dwindled, houses closed down and today there are only 6 families living in Ballyveane.
These are my memories of Ballyveance in the older times but it was the same in every other village in Ireland at the time. I will conclude by wishing God’s blessings, good health and happiness to those who now live in my village. Agus do na mairbh – go ndeana Dia trocaire orthu agus ta suil agam go mbuailfimid le cheile aris I bhflaitheas De.
And the dead – God have mercy on them and I hope we meet again in heaven of.