Billy Gallagher

Page One

Born during the war (rationing), all travel by bicycle, lived in 4 bed semi detached (Galban, Derry Rd, Strabane) (rented) with maid living in. Annie Coyle from St Johnston in Donegal.  She was paid 30 shillings a month and worked full day (7 am to bedtime) with ½ day on Thursdays.  Part-time gardener paid 1 shilling an hour.

A lot of our clothes were made (cutting up father’s overcoats by tailor, having jumpers knitted by Mrs O’Kane -she had 11 children – even vests were knitted.)  No heat other than range and a geyser in kitchen for hot water (carried with kettles up to bath).  There was an immersion heater but if you forgot to turn it off you burned down the house.  There was a turf fire in the sitting room.  Although all the other rooms, including bedrooms, had fire places fires were seldom lit in them unless you were sick in bed.  I have no memory of fire screens other than in the sitting room.


My father had old car on blocks in yard, no petrol to drive.  Uncle Jim buried 100 gallon tanks of petrol before the war to be prepared for shortage but never found them again.  We had a tea chest full of tea (hoarded) disguised as a pouffe in the children’s bedroom as everything was rationed.  Ration books allowed 2 oz of sweets a week, an ounce of tea or butter per person.  When ration books were withdrawn (about 1949/50) the shops were rushed and cleaned out of everything.

Being born on the border we travelled to Donegal (Lifford) almost daily to buy tea, sugar, sweets.  We went on bicycles although only 4/5 year olds as there was no traffic whatsoever.  You had to pass through the customs posts, North and South, on each visit but customs men didn’t usually bother 4-year-olds on bicycles.

After the war my father bought a car in Dublin (a Ford Prefect ZJ 2012).  He couldn’t buy it in the North as everything was export only.  He had to park the car in Lifford and could only drive it around Donegal then park in Lifford again and walk home (1 mile).  A Ford Prefect was the first car with a long bench seat in the front.