Bill Cullen grew up in the Glen of Imaal. He was born on the 6th October, 1920 . Bill passed away on 22nd June 2022 aged 101 years.
The following is an excerpt from a conversation Pauline Devine had with Bill for a publication called “Stone on the Pier, stories past and present” 2008.
The collection of stories came about through the Donard branch of the ICA with the assistance of creative writer Pauline Devine. The project was grant aided by the Local Environment Partnership Fund and Wicklow County Council Heritage Division.
“Donard was like most places in Ireland.
Settlers were brought in and given land. They took farms at the expense of locals who were thrown out. Until the Land Act in 1855, no one owned land. Parnell brought in an Act of Parliament that set out conditions that if your paid your rent and rates you owned your land. That is, you couldn’t be evicted.
The general landlord around here was Lord Wicklow. He lived in Avoca or down there. He had agents. In the early 1800s, these 2 brothers came to Knockferris They were from Northern Ireland but they were really Scots. One fellow bolted up to Ballinclea. He hadn’t a spoonful of soil going up and as time went on he ended up with 600 acres. The other brother went up to Stranahely. He ‘hooked his elbows’ up there and he put out different families, got others to work for him and took over their land; he must have got up to 1000 acres. And they had the blessing of the Landlord; the landlord trusted these and never questioned them. They could do what they liked.
I remember the opening of the new church in Donard in 1926.
I remember the Pipe and Drum band in Donard that played that day. … There were about 12 in the band, Patsy Reilly, John Mills, Jack Reilly, Paddy and Tom Neill and the man with staff was Ned Keeffe of Whitestown Bank. Tom Fleming was on the big drum. Boom boom.
I can see them to this day marching down to the chapel past the big congregation. … There were easily 2,000 people at the opening.”