Bligh’s Lane

In the early 1950’s, one of the worst winters was experienced in Europe. In Derry the River Foyle was iced-up but the children were enjoying the snow. Every evening after school a crowd of boys congregated at the top of Bligh’s Lane, a steep hill running from Creggan down to the Lonemoor Road. It was a very popular hill for sleighing on. The children were usually two to a sled, the heavier the weight the faster was the icy swoop down the slope. To make it even more dangerous they often poured water on the hardened snow. This ensured a very fast and almost unstoppable run down the hill and right across the Lonemoor Road and then down the even steeper Beechwood Street. There were few cars on the road in the Fifties. Still, there was always a fear that one would be travelling across the Lonemoor Road at the precise time as a sled hurtling downwards and that the unfortunates would not be able to stop.

Just on the slow curve of Bligh’s Lane, there was a cottage that had lain derelict for several years after the old woman Susie, who lived there died. It was about five hundred yards from the bottom of the hill. Rumour had it that her ghost was sometimes seen walking across the road to the well that had served her during her life.

Late one evening a sleigh came to the curve when the two boys on it saw the figure of an old woman very slowly crossing the road with a bucket in each hand. They dug their feet into the snow to avoid colliding with her. The sleigh capsized the two boys landed in the ditch, winded but none the worse for the tumble. Just then they saw a huge coal lorry stuck in the snow at the junction of Lonemoor Road. The driver managed to get the lorry out of the skid and it moved off. They realised that if they hadn’t slewed to miss the old woman that they would have had a very serious accident. They looked around to thank her but the old woman was nowhere to be seen. They were frightened but kept looking and went looking around the outside of the cottage. All they found were two old wooden buckets.

Their friends laughed at them but from others they heard similar stories and the fact is that no one ever had an accident at the junction.



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