My great-granddad blacksmith Matthew Gleeson and my granddad William Gleeson in the field at Gleesons' Forge, Ballykelly.
My great-grandfather Matthew Gleeson was a blacksmith and owned Gleesons' Forge at Ballykelly. The forge was used as a meeting place for many while waiting for horseshoes to be made or gates to be mended. At night people would come to play cards and listen to the wireless in the house beside the fire. This was my granddad William Gleeson’s home.
One winter on a bitterly cold night my great-grandmother Biddy Gleeson and her friends were walking home from an I.C.A meeting at a neighbour’s house. While they were chatting and laughing it began to snow. As they took shelter under the trees at the trough at Newpark they thought they heard voices, so they started to walk swiftly towards home. As they walked they were sure the sound of hushed voices grew louder. Suddenly they heard horses’ hooves thundering behind them on the road. But when they jumped into the ditch to avoid the horses, there was nothing to be seen on the white carpet of snow.
As they turned towards home the scary sounds returned. They ran shrieking into the forge and slammed the door behind them. The men were playing cards and drinking tea by the fire. My great-great-grandfather, known to all as Billfather Gleeson, came out of his room as the women shared their tale. The men gathered their lamps and crept outside where they discovered fresh hoof marks left on the carpet of freshly fallen snow. Everybody looked shocked except Billfather, who shook his head gravely telling them that he wasn’t surprised as this had happened to him when he was a young boy. His father told him that the sounds were made by the ghosts of the British soldiers and their horses who used the trough on their journeys throughout Tipperary, and it was also the site of an old gallows tree where many lost their lives.
Today I live on the site beside where Gleesons' Forge stood and as I wrote this story my granddad William Gleeson shared with me, I was sure I heard horses on the road outside.......
By Aisling Tess Quinlan, aged 12 and a student at Ballytarsna School.