I want to draw attention to the many heroes of the twentieth century from Bere Island. Unfortunately I cannot list them all here so I will concentrate on my favorite two, Johnny Dan and Mary Mullins.
Johnny walked from Derrycreeveen to the post office in Ballinakilla every morning. He and his partner pushed the boat down and rowed across for the mail, rowed back, sorted the mail and then walked back west distributing the mail along the way to Derrycreeveen where he would stop for lunch then he would walk back east by a different way still distributing mail. He would arrive in Greenane between 3.00pm and 4.00pm, and on a calm evening you would hear his “hi-hem” all over Greenane. That was a little eerie on a foggy evening when you couldn’t see him!
Ours was the last house and my mother would send one of us to meet him to save him a few steps. He was always pleasant and cheerful and would give us the correct time so we could set our clock accordingly, a valuable service in those days before radio and television. Then he would cut across the fields to the high road and down across the fields to the post office to turn in his mailbag before walking back home. I remember one time when I was about seven my mother sent me to the post office during the sorting to collect a letter she was expecting and she didn’t want to wait until the afternoon. Johnny would not give me the letter even though he knew me and Mrs Sullivan vouched for me. That letter was his responsibility and he wasn’t going to give it to some kid who might lose it on the way home. Where has that kind of dedication gone?
Nurse Mullins lived in what we called the Station above Rerrin village. She kept us all alive and well during a very hectic time on the island, She was there for births and deaths and everything in between. I remember one year when Mrs Harrington (Caupey) was dying in Greenane west she would make that trip everyday, sometimes twice. She had a bike but when you consider the hills she had to climb a bike was useless. Then she had all her other patients on top of that and the night calls. I believe that there should be a plaque or some token of remembrance to those wonderful people who worked tirelessly for the good of us all.
Ar dheis lamh Dé go bhuil a n-amnacha dílis.