School Days in Lislea in the 1940s (5)

Hugh A Murphy remembers people voting early and often in his school

The most welcome event, undoubtedly, during our early days in Lislea school had nothing at all to do with academia, and it was one that we felt happened all too seldom - election day!

Hugh A Murphy, reproduced by kind permission of RoSA. All rights reserved.The school was always used at that time as a Polling Station. This meant not only a day off, but also the prospect of an occasion of colour and pageant, with banners and placards and general commotion. This was the only time that we saw cars gathered together in any numbers in Lislea, as each available vehicle in the area was commissioned to ferry the aged and infirm from all parts and the able-bodied from outlying regions.

This was at a time, in the late 1940’s, when the fortunes of the Nationalist Party were on the up and there was a great sense of excitement and urgency, as every effort was made to ensure that no vote was left unclaimed.

The actual voting took place in the senior room on the right, but the infants’ room on the left was also a hive of activity. During these times we as children always referred to this room, with a complete sense of innocence I must add, as 'The Changing Room.' And this was exactly what it was.

It was here that the women gathered often throughout the course of the day and various items of apparel were exchanged, rain-coats, fur-coats, fox and mink stoles, hats, glasses, shoes, and anything else that was removable, in endless combinations which produced multifarious guises that ensured that every potential voter was represented. The fact that a number of them were sleeping peacefully in Lislea graveyard was a matter of little moment.

The Master always acted as Presiding Officer on these occasions, standing like a statesman inside the main door and nodding in sage agreement as each of his neighbours announced their spurious credentials.

I remember on one occasion my mother getting an urgent call a few minutes before the poll closed. Her mild protestations that she had already voted eight times that day were brushed aside. She was informed that there had been a slight miscount and that Mrs Crossan’s vote had not yet been 'called in'. And, so, a quick sally to the Polls and another vote was won!
Supported by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation

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