Plans to grant Ballygawley’s famous Hill ‘listed’ status have been unveiled by Mid-Ulster Council. Just like the town’s eponymous roundabout (world famous to generations of Belfast ones evacuating on The Twelfth) Ballygawley Hill is synonymous with local memories and folklore.
According to respected local hill-watcher Dennis Dunlop,
“The Hill was formed in 400 AD when The Romans were building a slide, but they stopped to take pints so it never got finished.”
When strange and unknown people come to town, the Hill immediately becomes pivotal to their experience. Without even asking for directions we were warmly told, “The Protestant chapel is up the Hill, turn left and straight on down ‘til you come to it.”
The Hill also forms part of the sexy ‘Swingers Corner’, where plenty a buck drives up to Gormley’s Bar, swings her round and heads straight back down again.
Soapbox racing, diffing and cruising often take place on the road of the Hill itself. However, the cherished surface can become quite greasy in the rain. This means, like manys a good Ballygawley woman, conditions are always slippery.
It’s perhaps most infamous for the 2006 ‘Battle of Ballygawley’, when a load of Galbally lads fell out of a bus, rolled down the Hill and bate into Centra. Ejected from the school formal, all they wanted was crisps, toilet roll and “a feckin after-party”.
Despite being full of old people, no one in Ballygawley can ever claim to be over the hill – with many local people admitting they haven’t actually been beyond the top of it. Rumour has it that it leads to some strange and backward dystopia called Carrickmore, but according to Dennis, “that place sounds pretty shite so no one bothers goin’ ”.
Following the decision by Tony Donnelly to step down as Tyrone assistant manager this week, Paddy Power has installed The Handbag Woman From The Hill as an unbackable odds-on favourite to stand alongside Mickey Harte on the sideline in 2015.
The woman, who has yet to be identified, is reportedly considering her options as revealing her identity might result in a van load of Dromid Pearses supporters driven by Declan O’Sullivan arriving in Derrytresk to confront her.
A Tyrone backroom official told us:
“Mickey feels that the current squad have lost a wee bit of steeliness and that maybe they need a fresh face to put the fear of God into them. Everyone agreed that there was only one person for the job and she resides in the lowlands near Tamnamore. Breaking the news to the players will have to be sensitively dealt with. I know for a fact that Kyle Coney has nightmares about this woman.”
Critics of the pending decision point to the fact that she hasn’t got a moustache and that nearly all Tyrone managers or assistants have possessed some form of facial hairiness since the 1980s. The unnamed official debunked this theory:
“That can be worked on. Anyway, they’ll not get as far as looking at her face. It’ll be what’s in her hand they’ll be keeping an eye on.”
Other applicants include Tony Donnelly again, Gerry Adams and a man from Moortown with a marvellous moustache.
Meanwhile, sources close to the woman in question have revealed that she has already placed an order for an even bigger handbag in one of the club books she gets.