Nostalgic journey into a Loughshore childhood gives readers a warm glow

ARDBOE native Maura Kilgore has published a colourful and deeply poignant memoir of growing up as the daughter of a Loughshore fisherman in the 1950s and 1960s.

In ‘The Way to Crock Road’ Mrs Kilgore, (nee Campbell), recounts her experiences growing up on the western shores of Lough Neagh at a time when few rural dwellings had either electricity or running water.

Although her family suffered hardship, Maura describes a childhood blessed with happy and humorous memories.

The publication is proving popular with book lovers of all ages and has sold well, not only locally, but also in England, America and Australia.

The book describes how in the Campbell family cottage - situated as it was at the end of the Crock Road, in Ardboe - was far from easy, possessing none of the amenities enjoyed by city dwellers.

“I lived with my father and mother, four brothers and one sister in a two roomed cottage close to a wooded area of Birch trees and bushes they called ‘the scrog,’” she explained.

“The Birch trees provided firewood for the kitchen stove. My father was a fisherman on Lough Neagh; a hard and often dangerous life. When the fishing season ended, in September, my father was forced to leave home and seek work in England,” she added.

She explains how her mother tended a small farm raising chickens, ducks and pigs as well as growing potatoes and other vegetables for the kitchen table.

Life was basic but happy and the stories contained within the chapters of her book are beautifully told and convey a great warmth of memory for her early life.

“Anyone who has had any association with life in any part of rural Ireland, and even those who have had none, can easily relate to the hardships of the times and to the beautifully recounted stories of a world now mostly vanished,” she explained.

Roddy Hegarty, Director of the Cardinal Tomas O’Fiach Memorial Library, Armagh. has described the book as “an engrossing story of life”.

“The reader is guided through the story via history, folk lore, industry, farming, religion, fishing, cars and cures among other things”, he said.

“It describes the buildings of a past era in a way that many will relate to with a mixture of nostalgia and relief of things now long consigned to the pages of books such as this.

“The social history of family and community are evocatively recalled with tales of flour bag bed linen and horse hair mattresses while the tough but rewarding work of the Lough’s fishermen and their unique catch of pollen and eel are spelt out in a heart warming manner that can only come from a first hand account of one who has been with eyes to such hardship and joy.

“The unique diet and habit of the area are explored along with general recollections that will allow the reader, regardless of their own background, to become immersed in this wonderfully personal story.”

The Way To The Crock Road is available in Sheehys Cookstown, Ardboe Gift Centre, Burnavon Theatre Cookstown and the following bookshops in Derry Easons, Shipquay Books and Little Acorns Bookshop.

The book is also available from Maura at 07845848443.