Monaghan farming couple publish miscellany of memories

A Monaghan-based couple has published a miscellany of their memories of farm life in the 1950s and 1960s. Denis and Josephine O’Higgins, Aghintamy, both grew up on farms but took up public service jobs before returning to farming in retirement.

“I grew up in Roscommon and Josephine was reared in Monaghan. I worked in the parks and wildlife service while Josephine was employed by Monaghan County Council. We bought a farm around 20 years ago where we run a herd of sheep and we also keep a few wee calves,” said Denis.

Having lost his father at a young age, Denis was keen to record his memories for his daughter, Brona, who is now working in Ukraine after a stint in Palestine.

When our wee girl came along, I thought we should record and pass on our memories.

The book is a real family affair as it also contains stories from Josephine while Brona edited ‘Fireside Miscellany’.

Flying Pigs

Denis recalls many lean times as he was one of nine, and remembers his mother living in fear of the “detested” land rates.

However, there are plenty of light moments such as the tale of flying pigs after a mishap involving a horse and cart and a broken bellyband. His favourite memory is of their white cow, Whinger.

“I also recall many of the characters I knew growing up. We also covered local history and places we visited such as old graveyards, on our camping trips, including those through a troubled Northern Ireland,” said Denis.

The feedback to date has been very encouraging, he said. “People have told us they really enjoyed the stories and I have more in my head so I will have to write another book.”

‘Fireside Miscellany’ is available at Easons, Monaghan and Cavan town; Braeside, Clontibret; Costcutters; and Good Craic, Rostrevor.