The April Meeting of the Bellaghy Historical Society took the form of a Members Night when an attempt was made to chart and name the residents, businesses and trades of the village in the early part of the last century.
The atmosphere and conditions of those days was recalled by a reading given by Mr. John Hughes, a native of Rocktown now living in Belfast. He read an article he had written entitled “Christmas Eve 1937”. In it he recalled the magic of the arrival of electricity to the village.
He and his two younger brothers were sent by their mother to buy toys and gifts for Christmas with a half-crown coin (twelve and a half new pence) and instructed to bring home some change. The walk into Bellaghy as the daylight began to fade was described and the awe they felt on reaching the village to find magic lights hanging from lamp poles and illuminating shop windows – a thing as yet unknown to the areas outside the village like Rocktown.
Mr. Hughes recounted the number of simple items he had managed to purchase with his money, enough to give all the children of the family pleasure and at the same time allow him a small amount of change for his mother. He described the shops that they passed on the way and their owners, bringing back many memories to some of the older members of his audience.
The naming and locating of former residents proceeded with names being recorded street by street on a chart on the wall by Mrs Margaret Evans and Mrs Pat Henry from information provided by members with additional details gathered from old street lists and from perusal of a very interesting map drawn many years ago by Mr. Johnny Mawhinney of Leitrim.
This had been brought to the meeting for display and members had also brought along old photographs of the village to jog the memory of those present. This proved so interesting and time consuming that the project was not finished and the completion of the chart was postponed to a later meeting.
Bringing the meeting to a close, the Chairperson, Mrs Mary Breslin, thanked members for their help in recalling the information provided and reminded them that the May meeting will take the form of a film showing of events and places of many years back – some as early as the end of the nineteenth century. This will be given by Digital Images of Belfast who have made a speciality of preparing old films for showing by modern equipment.
She also reminded members that there will be a short A.G.M. at the beginning of the May meeting where paid-up members may be proposed for the committee by other paid-up members who should have sought their permission beforehand.