Staff Pick: Smuggling in South Armagh, 1965

Staff Pick: Smuggling in South Armagh, 1965

Date: 07/10/2022 09:47

Michael Joseph Murphy was born in Liverpool 1913. When he was eight years old, the family returned to the family home of Dromintee, South Armagh.

After leaving school at fourteen to work as a farm labourer, Murphy developed an interest in storytelling and folklore around Slieve Gullion. He began to write down stories and sayings, going on to record what may be the largest collection of oral tradition ever collected in the English-speaking world.

Referred to by some as a modern Druid, Murphy campaigned against the social, political and environmental problems in Ireland; published ten books; wrote six plays and scores of short stories.

He retired in 1983 and died in 1996 in Walterstown, Co. Louth.

In this video Murphy recalls a story about a close shave with the police while acting as a scout for smuggling pigs across the Irish border (all part of the “community spirit” of course).

After the creation of a border between Northern Ireland and the Free State, smuggling became a part of everyday life in South Armagh, especially during the war years, with goods such as cattle, butter, whiskey, and tobacco moved at night through the fields.

The penalties for smuggling were severe and being caught could result in large fines and in some cases prison time. However, this did not deter locals from coming up with creative ways to move contraband, such as in hot water bottles or underneath prams!


Watch the full video here.