Despite being the only village in the island of Ireland to be divided by the international boundary of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, there is a real sense of togetherness in the community of Pettigo, Co. Donegal and its Co. Fermanagh counterpart, Tullyhommon.

Local resident Martin Eves believes that this is because ‘Border people’ have a “different mentality” than people who live far away from the Border.


Martin Eves, Enviro Gring Ltd.

Martin Eves, Enviro Gring Ltd.


“I think they mix well. They understand different religions, they understand different cultures, they understand different economies.

“They think differently and I like that openness. I like that bit of freedom that living here gives you. It gives you a much broader perspective,” said Mr. Eves, adding: “They have Sterling in one pocket and Euros in the other.”

Although born and bred in Pettigo, Mr. Eves went off to live in the United States for a number of years. It was there that he got the idea for setting up Enviro Grind, his horticulture bark processing business which he returned home to open in 1987 on the outskirts of Pettigo. The business has since evolved into a recycling business.

“Pettigo is unique in many ways and I have travelled a lot over the last 30/40 years,” he said, when asked why he chose to open the business in the Pettigo area.

Mr. Eves added: “There’s not too many places in the world you go where you can be in two different countries in 20 seconds.”

Talking in more depth about Pettigo’s unique location, he said: “You have Lifford-Strabane, you have Blacklion-Belcoo, they are all separated each side of the Border but Pettigo was actually split in half.

“They call the Northern side of the Border Tullyhommon but if you go to the Northern post office, it isn’t. It’s Pettigo, Enniskillen.

“Locally it’s called Tullyhommon, so you go down the street to Pettigo and up the street to Tullyhommon,” said Mr. Eves, explaining that Tullyhommon was originally the townland name.

“[Tullyhommon] is not a village, it’s just evolved out of it. It is part of the one community.”

Going on to share anecdotes about the village, Mr. Eves explained that Winston Churchill used to stay in one of the houses situated on the main street when he used to visit the area to hunt.

“That’s the stories that locals tell anyway,” he added.

In Pettigo Fuel Station, Circle K, Alida Byrne was busy serving customers. She explained that working in the filling station, she sees a lot of cross-Border trade and enjoys chatting with all the different customers.


Below left Alida Byrne; left is Karl Johnston and below right is Martin Eves, Enviro Gring Ltd.

Below left Alida Byrne; left is Karl Johnston and below right is Martin Eves, Enviro Gring Ltd.


“I love chatting with the older generation and hearing their stories. It’s a nice wee place to work in,” she said.

As a resident of Pettigo her whole life, Ms. Byrne commented that everybody in the area gets along with each other and there’s a real sense of community in the village.

She personally experiences this when she teaches her jiving and line dancing classes which are currently running in the resource centre in the village which is situated opposite the chapel.

“There’s good crowds and all going. It brings people to meet [together],” said Ms. Byrne.

Talking about where her interest in dancing came from, she explained that she picked it up from her great uncle Barney.

“He used to dance so I must have got it off him,” she added with a laugh.

Ms. Byrne also noted that she loves learning of the history of her homeplace.

Glancing out the window, she pointed towards a stone building situated across the road from her workplace.

Explaining that the building is the old mill, she noted how it was recently bought by a local businessperson who has plans to refurbish it: “They’re meant to be making it into a restaurant and accommodation. It is a listed building so they have to go with them rules as well.”

Welcoming this development, Ms. Byrne added that she hopes to see more of the derelict properties in the village given a new lease of life.

“I’d love to see them being done up and people back living in them. It could be done in time,” she said.”

Down the street in Gallagher’s Stop ‘n’ Shop, Emma Keown was cleaning the windows.


Emma Keown.

Emma Keown.


Stopping to chat, when asked what she likes about living and working in Pettigo, she commented that everybody knows each other in the area so there is a very friendly atmosphere.

Talking about the community element of the village, she noted how she recently took part in the local drama group Borderline Players’ fundraising lip sync battle.

“There’s a good few community groups too, I know the Forge Family Resource Centre have a few groups,” she added.

However, for Ms. Keown, living in a rural location such as Pettigo does have its challenges. She explained: “I’ve only recently got my [driving] licence but before that it was hard to get anywhere.

“There’s no buses or anything, you’re out of the way. So that’s a bit of a challenge because you kind of need a car.”


Mervyn Johnston.

Mervyn Johnston.


As we crossed the Termon River, the Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, into Tullyhommon, we visited M.J. Johnston, a garage owned by Mervyn Johnston and his son, Karl.

The two men were enjoying a cuppa when we arrived.

“I’d offer you one too but I don’t have any mugs,” said Mervyn with a warm smile. He was taking a break from his work as a mechanic, which he describes as more of a hobby now.

“I work at the classic Minis mostly. Mostly engines so that I don’t have to lie on the floor. If I did now, I’d never get up,” chuckled Mervyn, adding: “I’m more or less doing this to keep myself busy.”

Mervyn has lived in the area since the mid-1950s having moved there from Donegal Town as a 10-year-old child.

He commented that in the 1970s it was a “bit hectic living about here with the Troubles.”

“But that’s all over now and back to normal,” he added.

When asked what he likes about living in the village, Karl looked out into the wet evening and said “the weather” which was followed swiftly with a laugh.


Emma Keown.

Emma Keown.


Joking aside, he went on to highlight how the village has received a fair bit of development over the last few years: “We have the new hall down here and an extension on the hall up above. They’ve surfaced the road and footpaths, and the path around the river, so all that’s been done.”

“It’s a pleasant enough wee place to be,” he added with a smile.