Mary Jane Davis, Part 3.

There was a small army of us here growing up here. They were good times. But I suppose the place eventually got too small for us all. Thomas was the first to leave, he went to Canada in 1886, made a good life there for himself, I believe. John left soon after, I was sorry to see him go. Robert joined the Royal Artillery in Derry, came out alive, but poor James wasn’t so lucky. A few years after he signed up he was dead, at 26, we never did hear the right reason for it. William joined up too, in South Africa, came home to get married and we never saw him after that. It was just Alec, me and Richard then, the big house empty.

Richard Davis at Larkfield, Boggaun circa 1930.

Before Daddy died, he was buying Frank’s ground. It was the first time we could buy land, the laws had changed. Old Frank McLaughlin wanted to sell, no one left but him. We gave him his time up there, even gave him a stipend to look after the place. A grand man he was, came down often to ceile. It’s poor enough grazing but it mairned our ground, too good an opportunity to pass it up. It was just as the Land Leaguers were getting their way; they couldn’t say we took it away from him.

John, the oldest, was never content with our daubby soils. Him and John McCordock left for spoilt farms in Garradice, the year before Queen Victoria died it was. They were boycotted by the Land League. John moved on with his wife and childer to better lands in County Meath, in the Pale, a better place for the likes of us, maybe. He made a go of it, built up a fine place in no time. Made us feel the poor relation when they would come a visitin here; always well dressed, stories of progress and new houses. I went up to see them once, it was all true, a different country it was, soft rolling green hills as far as you could see, near the famous Boyne river. They took me to see where King Billy crossed on his white horse.

John and Maria Davis with their family at Boyne View Lodge, Corballis, Donore, Co Meath circa 1916.
Back row: Richard, Robert , Alfred
Front row: Maria, Thomas, George, Elizabeth (missing John James in USA)

Alec should have made more of it, no great ambition in him. Liked to ceile too much, he’d stay away some nights. I always thought he was a home bird and he proved me right in the end. John arranged a wife for him. His sister-in-law, Margaret, a widow woman; they were married in Duleek in 1918, a few months before Richard, it was. John, God be good to him, helped set him up in Corballis, beside his own place.  But then back he comes when she dies about 10 years later. Don’t understand it. He was nera one for the straight road, too much devilment in him.

When we got the ass and cart for to take the childer to school, he wanted to be the first up on it, like a child himself. And then Tommy Davis arrived from Meath with the camera, well, sure he couldn’t leave it till he got his picture taken up on it.

Always looked out for me though, after Richard got married and she took over. And wrote to me regular from the County Meath. Maybe he took a pity on us when we got into this trouble, and came back. I think maybe he just prefers it here.

Final Part 4 to follow.

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