Farms and farming

A high proportion of those interviewed, especially around Doagh and Toome, came from a farming background. There were, of course, huge variations is the type of farming and the scale of the individual farming operations. While many made their living entirely from farming, others had to combine farming with another activity to make ends meet.

While most farms were passed on from father to son, Billy Robson’s father was the son of the local schoolmaster. Norman Robson was, however, determined to go into farming and so a farm of 23 acres on the Burn Road, Doagh (in the townland of Ballyhamage), was purchased in the early 1920s. He lived on his own for a number of years before marrying Ada Mahony who was from Ballyronan, County Londonderry, and who had come to the Doagh area as a poultry instructor with the Ministry of Agriculture. They started up a poultry unit which as Billy says, ‘was not so land dependent’. Billy recalls his father delivering eggs and chickens to customers in Belfast on a Friday.

During the interwar years, there were times when farmers were under huge economic pressure. Billy Robson commented, ‘During the late 1920s things became very difficult for everybody. … Times were very hard, land became almost worthless.’ However, the Second World War gave a boost to local farming and especially to food production. Mary Ann Higgins remembers that there was more work during the war with better prices for crops, while crop production was increased due to compulsory tillage orders.
South Antrim Living Memories Project wishes to acknowledge the assistance of: