Neil McLaughlin and the Songbirds He used to Keep in River Row
By Gerry McLaughlin Senior who was born in the River Row in 1928 but now lives in Greenock, Scotland.
Neil McLaughlin used to live in the River Row. It was in No. 13 in the house now inhabited by CraicOn man, Gerry McLaughlin Junior.
His wife was Mary, or Mary Neillie as she was called.
He also had a daughter called Rose who went to England.
Catching Songbirds in Cooley
Every Spring he used to go out and catch songbirds, Greys we used to call them, although I don’t know their actual official name.
He caught them out in the Cooley.
He used to keep them in cages outside his house in the front.
Anyone coming past would hear the songbirds sing, especially in the evenings, and it lifted their hearts.
Eventually he would let them go.
I was born in 1928 and I can remember this happening as far back as I can remember and Neillie continued this for decades after this.
Walking to Cattle Market in Carn
Every Monday morning Neillie used to walk the 12 miles to Carndonagh with Harry Doherty’s grandfather and Stuartie Norris’s grandfather to sell his cattle at the Carndonagh marketplace.
Sadly, with their only daughter, Rose, leaving for England and Neillie and his wife Mary both gone, their family has no connection with the town, now, that I know of.
However, he has left his mark for posterity with his story of the spring songbird chorus of the River Row.