'If you hit the ball over the neighbour's wall you were 'out''

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'If you hit the ball over the neighbour's wall you were 'out''


Billy Gallagher remembers his school holidays and the games that he played with the neighbouring children.


Billy Gallagher


Trinity College Dublin




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Billy Gallagher

Is Part Of

Childhood and Early Life


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Strabane, Co. Tyrone

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


Holiday times were greatly looked forward to but strangely little remains in my memory other than the tennis club, cycling around the place for no apparent reason and cricket on the lawn. Memory suggests a time of indolence. Cricket on the lawn was a significant activity although I was no good at it. We lived in a large house up on a hill behind a shirt factory and we owned 16 cottages (2 up, 2 down, outside toilets) behind that. The rent from the tenants of these was three shillings and sixpence a week. My father didn't like neighbours and had the houses condemned and knocked down. It took several years to achieve this empty site and we spent long hours among the rubble of the empty houses, building sheds with old doors, lighting fires and cooking spuds in the embers. The remaining residents should have disliked all this but I am unaware of any complaint ever being made. These cottages were the 1950s equivalent of the ghost estates of 2010 in reverse. When the site had been cleared my father made our garden and the vacant site into a cricket pitch. It was probably 40/50 yards long by 30 yards wide. If you hit the ball over the neighbour's wall you were 'out'. Friends from school and the town would play regularly, usually about 6 or 8 people, no girls and few Protestants. At that time Protestants didn't play games on a Sunday and the playgrounds of Strabane were chained up accordingly. I remember no refreshments being available other than perhaps an odd bottle of lemonade. Also remarkably we had no protection like pads, boxes, gloves. Protective hats of course were unheard of then. We did play golf sporadically but the golf club never seemed a 'warm house' for young people. There was a snooker table there but we hardly used it. Television was just beginning and the golf club TV was accessed to watch the cricket tests from England. They would only show an hour's cricket at a time on TV but this was when Radio £_ireann closed down for the morning (10 ' 12), the afternoons (2.30 ' 5 p.m.) and didn't broadcast after 11 o'clock at night.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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