Patricia McSorley in her now out of print book, A While With Your Own Ones, quotes Barney Horisk in writing about another source of amusement for the farming community – the various fairs held about the area.
“A steady and reliable source of entertainment was Johnny McVeigh from Omagh who attended all adjacent fairs with a huge flat springvan. Later on with a motorised version, he went further afield. When the rush of cattle business abated, he appeared, heavily laden with second hand clothes and surplus cast off army harness and equipment.
He termed himself the ‘farmer’s friend’.
Eloquent, rude and witty, he was a popular addition to the fair, which lost something of its atmosphere if he wasn’t there. Some of the stuff he claimed as ‘ARMY’ was really cheap varities of new stuff.
A set of plough chins cost 2/6. The links were large and if used without some sort of covering had an abrasive and irritating effect where they came in contact with the horses. Still they were largely used as good quality chain with a small link cost three times as much. They also made a valuable contribution to the din McVeigh created as he set out his harness, odds and ends and accessories – Khaki puttees, umbrellas etc. When he had noisily, put his goods on display his stentorian voice could be heard announcing
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, May God forgive me, but I’ sure this form of address doesn’t apply to many of you, but whether saint or sinner, I now offer you value, which if once missed will be even unobtainable!’
Holding aloft, a strongly made umbrella, which doubled as a walking stick, he went on, ‘with great trouble and expense, I have succeeded in brining to Sixmilecross a limited number of these quality umbrellas, specially made for the King of England and his family and surplus to their requirements. In no other place will you be able to get quality fit for a king at prices that a prosperous pauper could affard!
‘Value for Two Pounds each, but I’m not charging you decent people Two. No, nor One Pound! For the modest sum of ten shillings you can defy the weather and bask in the envy of your neighbours!’
Nobody buys! And then to the accompaniment of prophecies of his future bankruptcy, he reduces them shilling by shilling to his usual selling price of 2/6. When he reaches the point, where there are no customers, he puts down the one on offer.
‘Gentlemen, if I may term you as such, you all see, that I am unable to sell these first class goods at ruinous prices. I am a charitable man who wishes well to all and ill to none, but should the bladder of the sky burst and water pour in, at the back of your neck and out of the arse of your trousers, expect no sympathy from me.’
1 post • Page 1 of 1