Reanacoolagh, Lismore County Waterford, Eire
On the way back from my friend's home, near Listowel in Kerry, I got on the Killarney-Mallow Road. I came through the town of Mallow and took, from there, the Mallow-Fermoy Road, meaning to call on an old friend of mine that I had not seen for some years. Through the village of Ballyhooley I reached his home, a few miles further on.
I stopped my car at the gate leading to his house. This house and farm belonged to a man by the name of Waels. I pressed the doorbell, and looked around. At the side and back of the house were a good many tractors, farm machinery and what looked like a sawmill. Some of the tractors looked like vintage tractors. The door opened and Mrs. Waels spoke, 'How are you Michael, you're looking well, come in.' I was well known to all the family. For sometime myself and Tossey Waels were old friends as well as the boys, Benny, Vall and Clare, who I got to understand was still at school in Cork City.
I entered. At the end of the hallway was a new back kitchen where the two boys were finishing their dinner. We had shakehands all around. 'Unfortunately you're late for dinner, but you can have some meat and tea.' I got seated on the couch at the end of the room. The day was a fine June day, almost two years since I was there before. Looking around and out of the back window I began to notice a new building across from the roadway between their home to the new building. As one of the boys, Benny I think, left the table he said, 'Before you leave, come over to see our new workshop.' I said, 'I will.' As I sat down to my tea I wondered if Tossey would return soon. I passed the remark to his wife. She did not say anything. She turned. When she turned around I noticed she was crying. 'I'm afraid you will not see your friend Tossey again. He is dead over almost a year now. Passed away sitting on the couch there. Just fell sideways on the couch and that was that. Just after coming from Cork.'
I was speechless for a few seconds. I came to my senses. All I could think of to say was to offer my sympathies to his wife. I passed a remark that I did not see him at so many rallies in the past year. So she said, 'I often said to him, are you going to the rally today? The day was fine and I liked a day out myself. But he passed it off saying he did not have anything right ready. He used always to take two or three engines in the trailer behind our Land-Rover. He also passed some remark, that the day may not hold out. That happened a good many times during the last year.'
'Perhaps,' I said, 'maybe he did not feel up to the outing. Maybe his heart attack did not come on. I mean, possibly it was not his first time getting it.' Trying to take the shock out of his death I said, 'Possibly the journey to Cork and back did not do him any good.'
She replied, 'I suppose there must be something. Our eldest son Benny now runs this farm and Vall, who worked in a garage in Mallow and Cork, came home and opened his own business here. General repairs, anything he can get. You can see the building across the way.'
I was a bit upset as I crossed what used to be part of the yard, but all the bits and pieces that once filled both sides of that yard were all gone. In their place was a concrete slab from the road gate. Two half gates fitted to steel pillars closing in the centre, from the railing on each side to the house to where I stood. The same on the pillar to the new house. I looked to my right from where I was in the centre of what was now a large concrete. On my right was another concrete slab about twenty-five yards wide running from the fence at the far side of the one time garden. Both fitted to perfection and driven by a large but old Marshall steam engine.
Also on the concrete were two Ford tractors for everyday use on the farm, and three vintage tractors, including a Dura 4WD and a very old Waterloo Boy on iron wheels, spade lugs on rare wheels and expert for a timber barrel on front to hold water. All the rest of the tractor looked to be in good order.
Vall called to me, 'Come over here till you see what I am at.' I went inside. The building was a lean-to, the full length of a three-span shed, sixty feet long. The back of Vall's lean-to is sheeted to the ground so to give plenty of space to the livestock in the sixty foot lean-to at the back. Vall's roof had several pesbrick sheets to let in plenty of daylight, two running galvanized doors, one in the workshop and one in the end column, where the Toyota Land Cruiser and their own Vauxhall Aster Car was kept, together with some Anteur Cars and a Marshall Six Cylinder Tractor, a tractor I never saw. I moved into Vall's workshop. It was very well laid out. I noticed the two generators I sold to his father some years back. They were now cleaned and painted. Vall told me, 'If the electricity went off they could get plenty of light from even one generator.' They had an 8 HP Petters driving through a big switchboard, with several 'Jages very large ones.' Vall told me a fellow did the wiring for them. He also connected up the whole place for them. I admired his work, and Vall's. He seemed to be a good mechanic. He had two tractors in for repairs. One was a John Deere that was giving trouble with the injection pump. 'They all do that,' he said. 'I let him get the parts himself and I charge for the work and the time.'
Vall told me he trained at IHC in Mallow. I turned my mind back to the Marshall six cylinder tractor. I asked Vall if she was for sale, pointing to the Marshall. Also the Waterloo Boy? 'Yes,' he said. 'Yes, the Marshall will cost you or anyone ?300 and the Boy ?1. 'Too big for me,' I said. 'How would ?300 sound to you?' '?200,' I said. 'Give me another ?50 and they are both yours.' The Marshall needs no restoration as it's already done and painted. He showed me some faults in the Waterloo Boy, but it was nothing. 'I will give you a deposit. When I come to collect them I will pay the full amount.' I took a ?20 note from my pocket and said I would like to hear both tractors running. 'Oh,' Vall said, 'I might have some trouble with the Waterloo Boy when it's out.' He went over to it, looked into the barrel, got a hose from beside a big concrete water tank and coped up the barrel. Checked the fuel, put in some petrol. Lube oil o.k., everything was flowing and a good thing anyway. Vall cranked up the engine and after a few swings it started and seemed to run well. He ran her around for awhile. He told me to get up, showed me the gears. I got up, let in the clutch and it felt alright. I drove down to the end of the garden and up again. I got off.
Now I said, 'I must hire a lorry to get those tractors home.' Benny had now come into the yard, with a 3,000 Ford 4WD and lorry back-body trailer. 'Well how are ye?,' I asked. 'We are alright now.' But to get home and clear up account Vall asked, 'Could we not take them down to him because he should hire a lorry to come up here?' 'We will take them down,' Benny said, after he discussed the matter with Vall. 'We will want another ?20 of you, for transport.'
All matters settled. I did some repairs to the Waterloo Boy. But I got results