My name is Michael Diamond. I was born in 1943 in Muingelly, near Ballycastle, County Mayo. My mother was born in Muingelly and my father was born in Ardnaree, Ballina. We lived in Ballina during my first six years and I started school there. My father worked as a manager in a flax mill, but in the late 1940s the flax, used in linen manufacture in Northern Ireland, began to be imported from Europe and the flax mill was closed.
My father went to England to find work and soon afterwards became ill with TB. The flax industry was a very unhealthy environment because of the dust and detritus produced in ‘scutching’ the flax. Shortly afterwards my mother went to England to be near him and I was then brought up by my maternal grandmother in Muingelly while my younger brother lived with my paternal grandparents in Ballina.