McGuigan Family

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Blantyre Folk

 McGuigan Family
A Wee Fat Wummins Memory o’ Blantir
(Margaret (Peggy) McGuigan)

McGuigan Family 1900 A Wee Fat Wummins Memory o’ Blantir (Margaret (Peggy) McGuigan)It’s a funny old game this family history thing isn’t it? I went in search of my roots and met a wee fat women who told me (in a very exact, descriptive and detailed manner) more about me and mine than I knew myself, and all this to a guy who thought he knew it all!.

They say that an émigré s memory of their place of birth and childhood never fade no matter the length of time and distance they are away from that place! The same could be said of Peggy McGuigan an elderly cousin of mine whose memory, no doubt, was enhanced by my unannounced visit. The following is an account of my meeting with Peggy, who despite being away from our common birthplace of Blantyre for over 60 years still spoke in the vernacular of our native village. I’ve tried to portray her spoken words verbatim, to convey her story in the old fashioned way that she told it, she never stopped talking from the moment she opened her door until the time i left some 4 hours later, with the promise to come back and see her.

The place was Radford, Coventry, and the address was 78 Links Road. As I drove along the row of terraced houses, checking the house numbers I wondered what kind of welcome I would receive.  After all I’d never met this side of my family and it was 50 years (the 1939-45 war) since I posted the last letter to this address, which still stuck in my mind after all this time! but suddenly there it was. no. 78. and soon I would know…..

With my well prepared script and notebook in hand I knocked on the door and stood back. The door was opened slightly by a small motherly looking woman, who peering through her glasses, looked at me and said, ’’Ah. don’t ken who ye ur ya’ bugger, but come oan’ in an’ we’ll soon fin’ oot’’.

I followed her into the house and was about to introduce myself, when all of a sudden she turned round and said: ‘Ah’ ken fine who ye’ ur’, yir ma’ auntie tressa’s boy urn’t ye’? Ah’ mind fine the night ye’ wir’ boarn, ye’ hid jet black hair an’ sallow skin an’ wir the spit o’ yir’ mither! Yir James Cornfield urn’t ye’, dae ye’ ken yir caw’ed efter yir brither who died in the april o’ the year ye’ wir boarn, yir’ baith caw’ed efter oor grandfather, James McGuigan, all this and I had’nt even opened my mouth, but there was more to come as she continued……..

Dae ye’ mind when youse flitted?, ah mind as if it wur yisterday. It must have been the Monday that yir mither gote the word that she had been gied a new hoose, fur she came runnin’ roon the raw wi’ her rubber apron an’ yir faither’s auld boots oan tae tell us the guid news, ye’ see Monday wis’ yir mither’s day fur the washoose, so that’s how ah‘ ken”.

I nodded my head entranced by this small woman, but my reverie was short lived as she continued speaking in her broad accent about our family and village which was taking me back to the days of my early childhood within the collier’s rows, a time which I had forgotten about but my memory  of those days were all coming back very vividly, as she continued…

Horse and Cart“Tam Barclays  horse an’ cairt  wis’ hired  at a cost of 2 hauf croons fur 2 hoors, an’ it came right tae yir mither’s door wae’ a bran’ new waterproof sheet oan the back o’ it, so that yir mithers things widnae git marked, fur ye see the cairt wis’ yaised fur carryin’ coal!

The flittin’ wis’ oan the friday, it being early lousing fur the men an’ pey day furbye, so efter a bowl o’ soup at oor hoose jist across the way, aw’ oor men an’ boys wir ready tae gie a haun’ wi’ the flittin’, oor wimmin’ folk hid been doon the nicht afore wi’ thur pails, scrubbers, lye soap an’ flerr cloths an’ gied the hoose a guid gaunin’ ower, so aw’ wis ready…….

The furst thing oot wis yir mithers white pine dresser an’ her matching table an’ chairs, wi’ aw’ the poats, pans, knive forks an’ spoons that she kept in the drawers an’ cupboards O’ it, alang wi’ aw’ the delf, cups, saucers, plates an’ the rest o’ her cheeny ornaments that she kept oan the tap o’ it, no
furgettin’ the twa wally dugs that she gote aff her best maid, Agnes McDonald, when yir mither an’ faither gote mairrit’ in the Caldwell Hall, when yir faither came hame fae furst world war.

Then it wis the beautiful veneered doubled wardrobe wi’ the two full length bevelled mirrors an’ the double drawers at the fit o’ it, that she gote aff oor granny McGuigan who styed wi’ youse and passed away a couple o‘ years afore.  My, oor granny wid hiv’ loved tae be gaun’ wi’ youse tae the new hoose, hid she lived, she always wanted tae stye in a hoose that hid this new fangled electric light wi’ its ain’ lavatory  inside it!

The bedding wis next, wi’ aw’ the flock mattresses, bolster an’ pillow cases, the white cotton sheets an’ white woolen blankets wi’ the black striped borders, the patchwork bedspreads an’ her starched irish (Belfast) linen valences.

Next came the pictures and ornaments aff the walls an’ the brace (mantelpiece) a new roll o’ waxcloth and rag rugs fae the flairs, the big brass fender an’ the fireside stuff alang wi’ yir faithers big chair..  My, he fair liked his comforts yir faither did!  The hale o’ the raws came oot tae see youse away as ye were wan o’ the furst tae go, an’ away youse went.

Yir faither an’ the bigger weans alang wi’ yirself  sat on top o’ the cairt as yir mither walked alangside cairryin’ her new wean (Teresa) in the shawl, aw’ oor neebors started tae cheer an’ sing as the rest o’ us followed, the menfolk wur takin’ turns shovin’ McSoorleys big barra with aw’ the coal an’ stuff oan it doon tae Logan Street.

The cairt went up Dixon Street, turned right intae Stonefield Road, passin‘ Jock Millers piggery, Murdoch’s pub, Trayner’s wee shoap, Chuckers jeans an’ the Independent Co-op. Then right intae Calder Street an’ doon past Carfin Street, Govan Street, Millar Street an’ Burnside Street. Then past Maggie McAleenan’s shoap, across fae Tam Barclays yaird, an’ the new clinic across fae McAlpines-in-the-Park (Netherfield Place) tae the Clay Road (Victoria Street) an’ the polis station across fae Calder Street school an’ the new Miner’s Welfare an ‘the wee Congregational Church at the junction of Craig Street (Slag Road).

The horse an’ cairt then turned left down Craig Street past Carlton Terrace an’ aw’ thon lovely wee cottages, especially the wan (Poplar Cottage) yir auntie Lizzie Paton wis boarn in, tae ye’ came tae Harper’s Garage at the corner. The cairt then turned right on to the Glesca Road, past the Cosy Corner pub, Greenside Street, Arbuckle the butcher, Andra Little the baker (dis he still make thon lovely wee rolls?)  Hogg’s paper shoap, Grimson’s wireless shoap, Paterson the chemist, the Dookit picture hoose, Norris the grocer, Cathy Potts fruit shoap at the corner o’ Alpine Street, opposite Hugh’s the grocer, Gibson’s store, Allen’s chip shoap, McWilliamson the butcher shoap, an’ Davidson’s the drapers, which wur aw’ right across the road fae the Central Buildings, Turner’s Building, wi’ J.C.Sweet’s cut price shoap oan the corner, then the entrance intae Logan Street, wi’ the Priory Bar oan the ither corner. Before they started building, Logan Street wis jist  a wee street wi’ Turner’s Building oan the right haun side wi’ a park next tae it, where aw’ the brass an’ silver bauns in blantir yist tae practice, while  oan’ the left haun side, wis the Priory Bar an’ Priory Hall (where aw’ thon’ doo’ men yist tae meet), alang wi’ the new Drill Hall.  Did ye’ ken James, that the street was named efter Janet Logan,the wife o’ John Clark Forrest. A prominent man in Blantir at that time, who also had three streets efter hiself ? like John, Clark an’ Forrest Streets.

Anyway, away up Logan we went, an’ altho’ they wur still building the top half o’ the scheme, the street wis busy wi folk, maisly fae Dixon’s Raws. moovin’ intae the hooses that wur already built.  Walkin’ up the street yir mither wis sayin’ that she hid gote the brawest hoose in the street, an ‘we  aw’ looked at each ither as we thought that she wis jist sayin’ this because  she hid been  gien’ a new hoose, but ah’ must say that when the cairt stopped at no. 41 Logan Street, we aw’ looked at each ither an’ nodded oor heids, she wis right. It wis a braw wee hoose, wi’ its front an’ back doors an’ a 15 gless panneld door inside the front wan! An’ aw’ the rest o’  thon modern stuff, ye ken whit ah’ mean? Some o’ us hid never been in a hoose where ye’ jist pressed doon a switch an’ a light came oan! Wan o’ the men shouted  ‘watch whit yir daeing ye’ might get a shock aff that thing!’  It wis a lot different fae the raws where we wir aw’ boarn an’ brought up in.

I was so intent in making sure that I was getting all this down when suddenly there was silence.  Looking up I saw this wee fat woman rising from chair, her eyes moist and overcome with emotion, still talking in her broad Blantyre accent as she busied herself making some tea until she had recovered her composure.  We, or rather she, had been talking about times gone by and of the people and places that we both love,– the Blantyre of the collier’s when we had Grannies and Granda’s, Aunts, Uncles and hundreds of Cousins. And now there’s only us!, as my wee fat cousin said “Its awfae hard no’ tae greet when ye’ stairt talking aboot the auld time James, ye’ wull hiv tae come back soon, fur its sich a long time since ah’ve hid as a good a greet!’’

I had been in Peggy’s house for over four hours and had opened my mouth to speak a few times, but why interrupt when the person who has the floor knows more about you and yours, than you know yourself!

On making our goodbyes and taking my leave of this remarkable elder cousin, this wee fat wummin gave me the kind of kiss and hug that only a mother gives to her son, I was  humbled and honoured indeed to have  met  her…

Peggy wis greetin’ when she telt me aboot oor ain folk an‘ the Blantir o’ the collier’s, I ken she’ll be greetin’ again when she reads this,‘cos ah’m a wee bit emotional my self as I write this…….
ps. the McGuigan family portrait was taken in 1900. when the family lived at 72 Spittal Raws, Bardykes Colliery.

Back row. l–r. Charles (Charlie) married, Elizabeth Paton, James (Jimmy) married Margaret Ann Conway, Henry (Harry) married Margaret Hoolahan,

Middle row; Mary married James Rodgers. Margaret (Maggie) standing, married James McInally) James Snr, Margaret (nee Smith)  Patrick John (Johnny)  never married, Theresa (Tressa) married John Cornfield.  Child at front, Peter married Mary Hayes.

The original family was of 5 sons and 5 daughters, but two children, predeceased the photograph as they died in infancy, Margaret b.1882, d.1882. and Theresa. b. 1883. d.1885.  It is of interest to note that Margaret, b.1888. and Theresa b.1894, were named after their dead sisters, such was the way of life of the McGuigan family in the Spittal Raw’s, 100 years ago…

James McGuigan Cornfield 2000

Your Social Comments…

John Pollock: Brilliant This!!

Wendy Wilson: Lovely story.

Helen Dyer: Classic reading… heart emoticon

Isabell McGinty Cain: Excellent.

Jane Johnstone: All these relations they made us who we are!

Karen Nicoll: Brilliant this,

Marianne Stark Aitken: This is an account of my gran and papa’s flitting way back in the first half of the last century I remember this story from my mum who wasn’t born then so def before 1936 told by my uncle James …..faimily Deborah Stark Laura Stark x
John Ryan-Park: That description of Blantyre was really good, one could travel from Dixon’s Row to Logan Street past all the side streets and shops all named with this wonderful family as they flit from a miners house Dixon’s Row to a council house in Logan Street Blantyre.

Etta Morrison: Loved reading this.. in tears also thinking of old Blantyre and it’s miner’s raws and relations long gone.. thanks for the memories xx

Maureen Wood: Really enjoyed this. Both my parents, Naismith and Murray were from Blantyre.

Sheena Thomson: The Lizzie Paton in this story is my Gran, she married Charlie McGuigan, one of their family was Mary who was my mum.

Marianne Stark Aitken: Oh looks like we’re related Sheena xxx

Sheena Thomson: Wouldn’t be surprised Marianne,Grandpa McGuigan was one of I think about 8 children.

Raye Kelly Robertson: Enjoyed reading this thank you so much for sharing.

Sheena Thomson: Read this story Peter McGuigan.

Margaret Stewart: Thank you so much for sharing this. It has created an amazing picture of very hard times and very strong people.

Betty Hepburn: Related to Frank + Lizzie Benham ,they had a Shop in Stonefield Road , they had 3 daughters Bessie, Maggie , Jane, I think Bessie kept the shop for a while.

Jean Andrew: Bless the Peggy’s of this world. Grandfather Alfred Nimmo would have known this lovely lady and suddenly I am closer to her.

Helen Lawson Taylor: Loved reading the story, it took me along all the streets as I was reading and brought back memories of my young days .

Betty McLean: Something lovely about those days and the friendly neighbours, so touching.

Hugh McDade: My parents used Tam Barclay also for our flitting in 1939 to timber houses .

Dallas Carter: Genealogical gold dust, this.

Stuart Oneil: Great read Bill. Thanks for sharing

~~~

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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