Memories of the War Years
Recollections of a former Postmaster
Sean Fahy, late of Peak (first appeared in Out and About 2006)
The Telegram Boy
People nowadays would not know what a Telegram Boy was but during the War years, he played a very important role not least in rural Ireland. In the 1940s, mobile phones did not exist and indeed in this parish, only two ‘Land lines’ as they are currently known were in use. These were located at the local Garda Station and at the Post Office. Therefore, when a telegram was received by the Post Office, they were required to deliver it immediately to its destination. Often, the telegram boy as I was known then, had to travel distances of eight miles or more by bicycle in hail, rain or snow. The telegram usually contained news of an urgent nature, perhaps someone seriously ill or a death in the family.
During the war years, 1939 – 1945, although we were a neutral country, planes often strayed in to this territory due to pilot fatigue or other factors. At that time, there were no cars on the road. Petrol was rationed and the only people who received a certain amount of petrol were hackney cars, the Parish priest and the Gardai. For the most part, the Gardai had to travel on foot or bicycle. There was a foot patrol from Barnaderg to Horseleap and back again.
Each night, air raids would take place and although there were no air raid shelters in Barnaderg, there were a few concrete bunkers in Tuam where people could go in case of emergency. There was no light at night due to rationing etc. The E.S.B. did not arriveuntil a good few years later. Ration books were provided for the following items: footwear, clothing, paraffin oil, bicycle tyres, soap, butter etc.
Some locals joined the Local Defence Force (L.D.F.) and the Local Security Force (L.S.F.) and were supplied with a uniform, footwear, gun and ammunition after training.