Back in the day, Paddy Butler owned a small farm just south of the border and he did a bit of smuggling in his spare time.
Every Friday evening Paddy would cycle across the border with a small box of sand on the carrier of his bike. He would pause at the tiny custom post where customs officer, Harry McGee, would emerge to carry out an inspection for contraband goods. Harry would pay particular attention to the box of sand, sifting through it and letting it run through his fingers.
He knew that Paddy was smuggling something but could never figure out quite what it was, and Paddy wasn’t prepared to make him any the wiser.
This went on for several years, with Paddy and Harry becoming good friends. Paddy would bring Harry a copy of the Irish Press and Harry would reciprocate with the Belfast Telegraph.
Both men would sit down at the border and smoke their pipes while discussing the affairs of the day. Then Paddy would mount his bicycle and continue on in to the six counties with his box of sand while Harry closed down his customs post and headed for home.
Harry finally reached retirement age and Paddy visited the customs post one last time. The two men shook hands and wished each other well.
“Before you go,” said Harry “can you tell me what you were smuggling all these years because it has been driving me mad?”
Paddy looked around to make sure that nobody was listening and then leaned in towards Harry.
“Bicycles.” he whispered, before turning and cycling away.
“No words of mine would suffice to say how much Abbeyfeale was rocked this week by the death of the late Miriam Joy Fitzgerald who grew up on Grove Road and who was a very popular teacher in Dromtrasna N.S. She also taught in the Boys N.S. and in Knocknasna after graduating.
Over the days of her removal and funeral thousands of people paid their respects to her husband Pat, her sons, her parents, brothers and sister and to her in-laws.
The purity of the voice of one of Miriam’s pupils singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ at her funeral Mass, the poem by Emily Dickenson 'Hope is the thing with feathers’ which was read after Communion: Hope is the thing with feathers. That perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all, and sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm. That could abash the little bird. That kept so many warm. Her husband’s eulogy and her son straining on tippy toes to hold on to his mother’s coffin as she was carried to the waiting hearse brought the church to tears.
May she rest in peace.”