Cuttin’ Turf and Shootin’ Cars

This is a piece I found recently looking through some old work files. It was in hard copy. I wrote it when requested to write a piece for the Annversary Edition of the Omagh CBS School Magazine Saine of which I was the first Editor. The piece wasn’t used at the time due to a tragic accidental death among the School Community. I was asked to submit another piece, which I did. This piece is about a real incident that happened when I was eight or nine years old. It is reproduced exactly as written originally.


As a child I used to go to the bog past Mountfield to cut turf along with the rest of my family. I remember vividly the hot summer days spent working on the bog, eating picnic lunches and drinking tins of Coke. The first year we went to the bog my father had rented it for our family alone but for the following two years Bobby Rogers rented the bog as well. I remember Brian and Brendan Rogers clodding handfuls of soggy turf at my sister and myself and feeling indignant when Bobby blamed us. Little did I know I was to have the last laugh.

On one such balmy summer’s day, after we had finished in the bog we went to Micky Keenan’s farm at Greencastle, whether it was to leave turf spades back I cannot remember. My father was not along with us this particular day, but I was there along with my cousin Aidan, Brendan and Brian Rogers and my sister Dolores.

We were in the farmyard, standing around chatting to Patsy Keenan and waiting for Micky to appear when he came walking round the corner carrying a double barrelled shotgun. He sauntered over casually and stood talking with the gun in the crook of his arm. Bobby Rogers asked Mickey could he look at the gun and I remember feeling slightly alarmed when he raised the shotgun to his shoulder and pointed it in my direction and then proceeded to draw a bead on various other random targets. Suddenly the quiet of the summer’s evening was destroyed by an almighty BANG followed immediately by the sound of pressurised air escaping from a car tyre. Birds flew up into the air, hens scattered and a dog ran for cover.

Bobby Rogers had shot his car with the shotgun. . . .

The front left side of the car slumped to the ground. The paint on the wheel arch was blasted off in places, but the tyre was totally destroyed and the hubcap, well you would have thought an elephant had stood on it. I cannot remember whether I laughed or stood dumbstruck. God knows I have laughed often enough since when I’ve thought about it, but I do remember the expression on Bobby Roger’s face. I don’t think I have ever seen greater shock mingled with disbelief on the face of anyone since. After all, the man had just blown the hell out of his own car.

I cannot remember what my father said about the incident but I can well imagine he was none-too-pleased about his colleague loosing off a shotgun when his two youngest children were about. I remember not being particularly perturbed at the time, although I remember thinking that he could easily have shot me. Perhaps it was due to my innocence as a child that I saw nothing unusual about a grown man shooting his own car.

By the time I made it to the Brothers’, his name was Master Rogers and he was the Deputy headmaster, indeed in my A-Level Year he was Acting Principal. I often wondered did he remember the time he’d shot his car and I often felt like reminding him, but it was like a secret that only he and I knew and we didn’t like to talk about it. Bobby has since retired and I wish him well. Someday if I meet him at the golf club or wherever I’ll buy him a drink and we’ll laugh about his armed assault on his own car. You never know, we might even cut turf again one day.

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