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May 2019
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2003-07-22 Cartron

Last year there was much talk locally of how justly angered the residents of Cartron were by the corporation's decision to grant planning permission for apartments on a 'green area' known locally as "Nelson's Field". The 'Cartron Action Group' made the valid point that the only benefactor, as in all of these cases, would be the developer.


It was strange to hear what was once our back field being the central topic for heated local debate. 'Cartron', the two houses in one at the top of Cartron Hill, protected by white railings and clothed in ivy - was until 6 years ago our family home, and since the early 1800s home to several generations of the Nelson family. When the house was built, it was the only house on Cartron Hill.


During my lifetime, my father's parents lived in the first house, and we lived in the other, but the houses were linked upstairs by an adjoining room. Like all old houses, many of the rooms had open fires, but dampness and condensation was a problem.Several unusual extensions gave the back of 'Cartron' a higgeldy-piggeldy fassade, windows appearing far from uniformly positioned, like in a child's drawing.The big backyard had a garage, a turf house, a coal house, an apple house, two stables, dog houses, dog runs, hen houses, and a big empty resonant barn - once a house itself. Several of the outhouses had attics, some safer than others, but all ideal for advanced hide-and-seek. In the summer, we played our mixture of squash and tennis against the garage wall. Too hard a hit, and "Please Mrs Murray, can we have our ball back?". Another neighbour, Mrs Craig, was a nocturnal lawn-mower and a great excuse for feigned insomnia.


Farming at 'Cartron' in my day had become more of a hobby - free-range hens and bantams clucked and pecked around the open 'plot' area, supplying quality eggs daily. A few sheep, a pony and our beloved dogs kept us busy too.

In the centre of the yard a giant ash overlooked the proceedings. In it, a home-made tree-house made an excellent sulking retreat and a long rope with a tyre at the end was the perfect swing. An old hand-operated pump supplied both houses with fresh spring water.


Our garden had a rose-bed, flower-bed, rambling roses, sweetpea, a lawn and a sizeable dog-run. In the front garden, a pretty cherry tree confetti-ed the path, lawn and wallflower-bed in the summer. Throughout the years, Grannie's garden grew into a rambling wilderness with flower-beds, gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, rhubarb, a vegetable patch, a mini-orchard, and believe it or not, a tiny church once used for family worship, but long before the stork delivered me to Garden Hill. Behind the church stretched a small wood, another gift of a play area, where huts and tree-houses sprang up and down over the years.

On the town-side of 'Cartron' was a quaint little side-garden suntrap. Two small fishponds hugged by heather were inhabited by goldfish who peered nervously out from beneath the lily-pads.


One of my earliest memories at 'Cartron' is watching from the roof of our house as Petie Harte parked his pony and trap in front of the white railings and delivered our milk in metal milk-cans.


The road-field, now apartments and shops, was blanketed in buttercups in the summers. "Foley's Field" - now Cartron Heights - had a piggery en suite, and was often utilised as a sports area, as well as the Football Field of course. On a daily basis, we would venture further out to the Point Field - now Cartron Bay, Cartron View and Cartron Point - returning along the uneven sea-weeded shoreline. On one occasion, our route back was improvised at speed as we were pursued by an angry bull and his doting harem! Back in the safety of our secure back field - "Nelson's Field" - in the summer we would check the pheasant chicks and ducklings being bred for release in the wild, while Bonny the pony, and in later years Dolly, crept up behind and nudged us playfully.


En route to Rosses Point a few weeks ago, I drove slowly past our old house, now a sorry site (sic) - a crumbling family home and building in progress on "Nelson's Field". Soon all that will remain will be the name - 'Cartron' - in all it's guises, two centuries of ghosts and a torrent of memories.


For all Football Fans ;-)