by Michael McPhillips

Newtownbutler author Dermot Maguire is to hold two book launches for his third local history publication.

Having previous published Drumlone at the Cross Roads in 2005 and A Townland Miscellany 2014 this new publication 'East Fermanagh A Chronicle 1880 to 1980' will cover the areas of Maguiresbridge, Brookeborough, Rosslea, Lisnaskea and Newtownbutler. Lisnaskea Historical Society host Dermot’s Lisnaskea launch on October 7 at 8pm in Castle Park and a home launch in the community centre in Newtownbutler on October 11.

This book is comprised of information from two local diaries and from the local newspapers. The diary of Andrew J. Maguire, who had a farm at Mullaghboy and later at Tattygare, is quoted in full. It runs from 1882 until 1938.

It is a great local source for its record of births, deaths, marriages in the area, and more general information as well. The new book also contains excerpts from the Patrick McMahon diary which runs from 1932 until 43. McMahon owned a pub-grocery in Lisnaskea and farmed locally. The book contains allot about farming, and social life in the area, smuggling, price of goods and local politics.

Most of the book is made up of information from the local newspapers for the period 1930 until 1980. In many ways those 50 years saw a revolution in our way of living; in farming, transport, housing, in the coming of mains water, electricity and television.

The 1930s saw the building of the bridges over the Erne, introduction of tarred roads and reorganisation of GAA club football. The limited introduction of the ‘phone’ was called “a stunt” by one Councillor.

The 1940s saw the war and the excitement of the American soldiers in our midst. After the war austerity continued with shortages and coupons and ration books lasting for many years. Lack of jobs saw much emigration, especially to England. It also saw the phasing out of the Lisnaskea workhouse and the last of the hiring fairs.

The 1950s saw the GNR in crisis and final closure in 1957. The ‘flight from the land’ continued and the plight of the small farmer became acute – there were great changes in farming, mechanisation and the tractor were on the way. Telephone kiosks came to the countryside.

The 1960s ushered in what we would now call “the modern world.” This included such things as: tourism development, supermarkets, big traffic increase (family cars), pop music, the showband scene, churches coming together, mains water and electricity in most houses, the Civil Rights Campaign, and beginning s of the ‘Troubles.’

The 1970s was dominated by the ‘Troubles.’ Beyond the devastation wrought by the car bombs and the shootings there was an effort made to develop many aspects of life.

Enterprise Ulster sought to bring much needed jobs, course fishing facilities were developed, young farmers were ‘trained,’ the Cockcroft Report and the Erne Catchment Study sought to introduce new planning rules and develop the potential of the area for tourism. There was a downside too; drug abuse and teenage drinking became a social problem and unemployment continued to grow. By 1980 there were plans to open pubs on Sunday. This was prompted by the needs of tourism.

The book runs to over 350 pages teeming with so much local history where not a family or townland does not a get a mention between the covers.