Fermanagh in WW2. The Golden age of Smuggling.

Excerpt from Fermanagh in WW2. The Golden age of Smuggling by J.B. Cunningham. £15 plus P&P.

August 1939. 3-8-1939. As the anti-IRA Bill was being rushed through the House of Commons, IRA terrorists struck twice in London at railway stations. Suitcase bombs were deposited in left luggage offices. At King’s Cross one man was killed and 15 injured. The dead man was Dr Donald Campbell who was returning from a belated honeymoon with his wife. I.R.

3-8-1939. As soon as the Prevention of Violence Bill became law at Westminster the Home Secretary considered the cases of suspects and signed orders for the expulsion of eight of them. There was a great exodus of Eire people from London and there were remarkable scenes at a crowded Euston Station. I.R.

3-8-1939. Belcoo’s fire hose is seen in action after the provision of a new pumping station and reservoir on the hill above the old reservoir. This new pressure is sufficient to deal with any outbreak of fire. The average rainfall for Fermanagh is just over 40 ins per annum based on an average for 50 years. The springs from which the new supply is taken have never been known to fail even in the very dry year of 1933. The 500 ft borehole at Belleek has shrunk from 850 gallons per hour to 350. This was recently increased to 550 gallons per hour during the past week by exploding 60 lbs of gelignite at the bottom of the hole. I.R.

5-8-1939. A Prisoners protest resolution forwarded by Rev. Fr. T. Maguire, P.P., Newtownbutler, was ruled out of order by Fermanagh GAA President, Mr. J. P. Dunne. F.H.

5-8-1939. There were some remarkable disclosures in the report of the new Six County Pig Marketing Board on the administration of the old Board. The services of both Mr. Thomas Shaw, secretary and manager, and Mr. J. Monteith, accountant are to be dispensed with. The report concludes that that very serious laxity and irregularities were prevalent in regard to petty cash, travelling, entertainment, marketing, casualty pigs etc. and that although blame might be due in varying degrees to various persons, it could not be evaded that Mr. Shaw, as secretary and manager, was primarily responsible for these shortcomings, and in some instances, such as borrowing from the petty cash, was the leading offender. F.H.

10-8-1939. Another 180 ships are to be added to the British Navy for anti-submarine work, mine-sweeping and similar duties. These will include 107 trawlers and 20 will be specially built for the purpose. I.R.

10-8-1939. Under the terms of the Irish Church Disestablishment Act the Church received £7 ½ million which represented the sum necessary to pay the clergy their then existing stipends for the remainder of their lives. To this sum was added 12% – 7% on account of the longevity of the clergy and 5% for administration. The church also received £ ½ in compensation for the un-ascertainable value of its private endowments. With regard to real property, the church buildings and the Glebe houses were left, but not the Glebe lands. These had to be repurchased but only to the extent of 10 acres at the high prices then prevailing which cost £500,000. The recovery of the Church to its present comparative prosperity within less than 70 years amounts almost to an epic story. I.R.

10-8-1939. An over-sexed civilization is the result of too much leisure declared Professor J. A. Scott Watson at the Summer School of the British Hygene Council. “When people have too little to do and not enough to think about, sex is liable to play an exaggerated part, and that brings unhappiness,” he said. Professor Winifred Cullis said that it was necessary to awake the public conscience regarding the suitability of parents. “We are developing the least intelligent part of the population at a greater rate than the intelligent part ….. It should be a matter of honour that good parents should have children as they would be doing the greater service to the nation … the more difficult problem will be persuading the less efficient people that they will be doing a disservice to the nation if they continue producing children at the rate they are doing.” I.R.

10-8-1939. In the event of an outbreak of war, Mr W. A. G. Ritchie, M.A. Town Clerk will have a number of onerous and responsible duties in connection with the various schemes such as the evacuation of children, food control scheme, air raid precautions etc. These duties will be in addition to his duties as Town Clerk. Mr Ritchie informed the Council of this and said that it would be impossible for any one man to carry out all these duties. I.R.

10-8-1939. The wedding has been arranged of Captain Henry Arthur Cavendish Butler, R. E., Inishrath, Lisnaskea and Miss Ruth Ardyn Barton of the Waterfoot, Pettigo. As the church of the bride’s family is in Pettigo over the Border the ceremony will take place in nearby Muckross Church in Fermanagh. Afterwards the bride and groom will leave for Bangalore in India. Captain Butler is at home on leave from India and has made good use of his time. Miss Barton is just eighteen, fair, blue-eyed, and well known among the younger set. I.R.

10-8-1939. OLD ENNISKILLEN. Cargoes of turf and sand were landed at Enniskillen at the Round “O” and the bottom of Schoolhouse Lane particularly by cots from Rossharbour near Belleek. In after years Mr Hugh Alexander Bradshaw had a few large sail-boats which deposited goods for him from Ballyshannon and Donegal Town in Enniskillen via Belleek. These were deposited at Bradshaw’s Lane near the East Bridge. I.R.

10-8-1939. OLD ENNISKILLEN. Now light was available except a little from a flickering candle in a grocer’s window until the wonder of coal gas was brought to Enniskillen by Mr George Malam of Halifax, Yorkshire. The common people could scarcely believe their eyes when the first lamp was lit on the East Bridge in the year 1849 from a tube from which they could see nothing emerging. The new gas service was opened by the Major in command of the 57th regiment then in Enniskillen. I.R.

10-8-1939. Sunday last was a momentous day for North Atlantic commercial aviation. After years of planning Imperial Airways started their regular mail-carrying air services between the British Isles and North America. Towards the end of September the British flying boats will start carrying both passengers and mail. American flying boats have been carrying passengers and mail for the past six weeks. Everything was in readiness at Foynes, the Transatlantic airport on the River Shannon. I.R.

Foynes, Ireland, became the center of the aviation world from 1939 to 1945. On July 9th 1939, Pan Am’s luxury Flying Boat, the “Yankee Clipper” landed at Foynes. This was the first commercial passenger flight on a direct route from the USA to Europe. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, this quiet little town on the Shannon became the focal point for air traffic on the North Atlantic.

During this period, many famous politicians, international businessmen, film stars, active-service-men and wartime refugees passed through Foynes. In fact, the site was initially surveyed in 1933 by Colonel Charles Lindbergh and his wife Ann, who landed in Galway Bay flying his Lockheed Sirius. In December 1935, the Irish Times announced that Foynes would be the site for the European Terminal for transatlantic air services. Colonel Lindbergh returned again representing Pan Am in 1936 to inspect the facilities and also in 1937 to view the departure of “Clipper III”.
In 1942 Eleanor Roosevelt arrived in Foynes under the alias “Mrs. Smith”. Earlier that year, Captain Charlie Blair, later to become the husband of the actress Maureen O’Hara, had made the first non-stop passenger flight from Foynes to New York in 25 hours, 40 minutes.

The era of the flying boats was colourful but brief. In 1945, hundreds of people watched as Captain Blair piloted the last American Export flying boat out of Foynes to New York. Upon arrival, he turned around and piloted the first landplane, a DC-4, back to open the new airport at Rineanna, later to become the Shannon International Airport. Shortly afterwards, Pan Am, after 2,097 Atlantic Crossings through Foynes, made their last flight to Lisbon from Foynes. Only a day before, their first landplane had also landed at Rineanna.

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