Irish Folklore Commission
“Schools Scheme” (1937-8)
During the eighteen-month period from September 1937 to January 1939, approximately 100,000 schoolchildren, aged 11-14, in 5,000 primary schools throughout Ireland took part in the biggest folklore collecting scheme ever mounted anywhere in the world. The “Schools Scheme" as it was called, was organised by the former Irish Folklore Commission and the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.
The children sought material from parents, teachers and older members of their community and wrote it in their school copybooks. It was an operation of astounding vision, the fruits of which are today bound and paginated in 1,128 volumes (500,000 manuscript pages), a priceless national collection. It has meant that folk tales and legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs, games and pastimes, descriptions of traditional work practices and many other topics from the past, are set down for posterity.
The collection is now preserved in the Department of Irish Folklore at U.C.D., with an interim index listing the contents of each volume. There is also an area index through which these volumes can be assessed school by school, parish by parish and county by county. The volumes relating to schools in Co. Cork can be viewed on micro-film in the County Library, Cork.
The material relating to Ballygraddy and Curraghs National Schools is too extensive to publish in a book of this nature, so I have selected extracts on a range of topics which deal largely with themes not covered in other articles.
Folklore Commission – Ballygraddy School
Bar.: Dúithche Eala
Par.: Cill Bhroin
Scoil.: Baile Uí Ghrádaigh
Oide.: N., Bean de R6iste
1.1938 – 12.1938
In a cup there is a sup and everyone must taste it.
Went up stairs - black and white, and came down red all over.
Answer: A newspaper.
Riddle me, riddle me Andy o, my father gave me some seeds to sow, the seeds were black, the ground was white, riddle me riddle me Andy o.
Answer: Ink and newspaper.
As black as ink, as white as milk and it hops on the road like hailstone.
Answer: A magpie.
What at certain times walks with its head drawn? · .
Answer: A nail in a boot.
What is full and holds more?
Answer: A pot of potatoes when you pour water in.
What goes all round and never gets into the wood?
Answer: The bark of a tree.
As round as an apple, as plump as a ball, can climb the church-wall over steeple and all.
Answer: The Sun
What goes between two woods and comes home between two waters?
Answer: A man fetching water in pails.
Headed like a thimble, tailed like a rat, you may guess forever but you will not guess that.
Answer: A pipe.
Roomful and cannot take a spoonful.
Why does a cow look over a ditch?
Answer: Because she cannot look under it.
Why does a hen peck a pot?
Because she cannot lick it.
Two legs sat upon three legs with one leg in his hand, in came four legs and ran away with one leg, up stands two legs and throws three legs after four legs and brings back one leg in his hand.
Answer: A man sitting on a stool with a leg of mutton in his hand, in came a dog and ran away with the mutton, the man stood up and threw the stool at the dog and brought back the leg of mutton in his hand.
Two fair ladies dressed in white, one got the fever and died last night.
Answer: Two candles.
Under the fire and over the fire but it never tips the fire.
Answer: A cake baking in a bastible.
Long legs, crooked thighs, small head, no eyes.
Answer: A tongs.
l have a little Kerry cow she stands by the wall, she eats all she gets but she drinks none at all.
Answer: A fire.
A dock leaf is a cure for a burn from a nettle.
A dock-rose is a cure for a bite from a dog.
Paraffin-oil is a cure for a burn if rubbed on immediately after the burn.
Bread soda is a cure for a burn.
Aspirin tablets would cure a pain in the head.
White bread and soap and sugar mixed together is a cure for a boil.
A nettle is a cure for a lump.
To stand in a hole of bog water is good for a cold.
To walk out barefooted very early in the morning when the dew is very thick on the grass it is good for corns.
To heat a burn to a fire would cure it if it was not a bad burn.
It is said that if you had a bad tooth-ache if you put your finger in on top of your tongue it would cure it.
It is said that if you put a ribbon on a hedge on St. Brigid’s night, St. Brigid is supposed to come and bless it and it is a good cure for a headache.
The dandelion is a cure for the yellow jaundice.
Brown paper and wax is a cure for a boil.
The whitethorn is a cure for collitus.
The bark of an oak tree is a cure for the disease in calves called scour.
Cleas na Péiste is a cure for worms in calves.
LUCKY DAYS .
Monday is a lucky day to have a market.
Tuesday and Thursday are lucky days to start schools.
Monday is an unlucky day to start school and Wednesday.
Monday is an unlucky day to start ploughing.
Saturday is an unlucky day to start knitting because it is said it never would be finished.
It is unlucky to dig a sod for a grave on Monday.
Saturday is an unlucky day to sell cattle.
The thirteenth of any month is said to be unlucky.
Friday is an unlucky day to have a meeting held.
The twenty-sixth of a month is also an unlucky day to start any kind of work. .
It is unlucky to start motor driving on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
Wednesday is an unlucky day to strike an old person.
Monday is an unlucky day to kill any kind of an animal.
Saturday is an unlucky day for fairs.
Sunday is an unlucky day to make jam because it is said it never would be of any use.
Good Friday is an unlucky day to draw blood.
The month of May is the month for working Pishogues.
It is a sign that if a person put eggs in a field that the person who put the eggs would have a good crop and the person who found them would have a bad crop.
If a pigs head is found in anyone's land it is a sign that all the pigs would die.
If an egg was found and it could not be broken it would be better to burn it because if it were not burned it would spread harm.
On May-Eve night the people shake holy water on the crops and on the cattle, to keep them from danger.
Long ago, when the people were making their butter instead of having a tank of cream in the morning they would have a tank of water instead. So they used to stay up by night to guard the cream but it used to flow out of the tank in spite of them.
Around the district of Liscarroll Pishogues are worked a good deal.
Where a pigs head is found no pigs can be kept on that land again until a few years are gone by, for it is said that the Pishogues leave after a time.
Once upon a time I saw Pishogues worked near Liscarroll. As I was going up a passage and I met a butt of manure coming down against me without any horse under it. As I entered the yard I saw the shovels and spades walking around the yard with a red light under them. I saw the cows being put into the stall. When the people went into the kitchen for the buckets, and when they came out, again all the cows were gone out again.
Once upon a time there was a girl coming to the school every day and she was able to work Pishogues. Every day when she used to come to the window the blackboards would fall.
Long ago there was a very large building in Castlecor but there is only a part of it standing now. The house was made of stones and mortar and the blood of the soldiers that had been killed in battle. Year after year the house was sinking down and now it cannot be seen because the new house is built on top of it. It is said that there is a very deep trench in the middle of the orchard and it is said that there is a young child buried in it. In the new house there is an underground cellar made out of the old house.
Long ago there was in Castlecor a very dangerous ram and everyone that used to come up through Castlecor to mass used to put coals inside their stockings to protect their shin bone from being broken by the ram.
A LOCAL TRADITION
In former times the protestants of this parish decided to build their Church in the cemetery at Kilbrin. The necessary material for building the walls was procured and they immediately set to work with good will. On the following morning when they resumed their work, to their astonishment the portion of wall which they built on the previous day was razed to the ground.
They were compelled to start work again but it was with the very same result. When the authorities heard of the nasty work which was being done they were undoubtedly in a terrible state of consternation. They decide to place a certain number of soldiers on guard so that they might capture the culprit but no culprit could they find. While to their amazement the walls were knocked down and they heard a voice saying “Sound Kilbrin we will do it again". They immediately came to the conclusion that the work was done by some supernatural power, as they were obliged to abandon the site. They removed down to Lackeel where they succeeded in building their Church which stood the weather for many a year.
Told to me by John O’Connor, Lackeel, Castlecor, Kanturk, Co.Cork.
BURIAL OF TITHES
In the time of the penal laws the Irish Catholics were compelled to pay tithes of all they possessed to support the Protestant clergy. The irony of this state of affairs was that the Catholic priests were being killed and burned. A certain individual called a Tithe Proctor was appointed to collect these dues. This man met with much hostility on his rounds, and was very often ill-treated.
The majority of the Catholics all over Ireland rebelled against paying the tithes. But the inhabitants of our own parish of Kilbrin were the first who refused absolutely to pay. On one Sunday the chief parishioners assembled together at Kilbrin cross bringing some tithes with them. They procured a dud box which resembled a coffin into which the tithes were put. They marched in procession to Poll Buidhe where they buried them in a deep grave. Everybody throughout Eire followed their example so that the Tithe Proctor was seen no more going on his rounds.
Told to me by Mrs.MacMahon, Ballybane, Kilbrin, Kanturk, Co.Cork.
CRANN AN AIFRINN
In former times when the penal laws were in force in Eire, the Catholic priests endured much hardship. They were compelled to flee from their homes and go into remote places where they lived solitary lives. They dared not celebrate Mass in the chapels and if they chanced to do so they were immediately executed. It was a customary thing at that time to see every priest going about with a price on his head, this meant that the person who would betray the priest would get a large sum of money, but I am glad to say that this rarely happened as the Irish were always loyal to their priests. During those bad times the priests were allowed to say Mass anywhere and everywhere when they got the opportunity.
In our own parish of Kilbrin there is a certain field which is the property of Mr. Patrick Corkery, It is styled the High Field. A great many trees grow in this field but there is one in particular which stands in solitary guard, this tree is called “Crann An Aifrinn”. Very frequently a priest celebrated Mass under it and when he did a white sheet was spread over it so that everybody for miles around might know that Mass was going on in Kilbrin. When the people of “Spangle Hill" saw the sheet on the tree they understood that Mass was being said and they immediately knelt down and heard the Mass as well as they could although they were thirty miles from the place where it was said.
Told by:- J. Noonan, Ardprior, Liscarroll, Mallow, Co. Cork.
Bridie O’Connor, Lackeel, Castlecor, Kanturk, Co. Cork.
Folklore Commission – Curraghs School
Bar.: Dúithche Eala
Par.: Cill Bhroin
Scoil.: An Currach
Lios Uí Chearbhaill
Oide.: Siobhán, Bean Uí Luanaigh
3.1938 - 1.1939
In the townland of Ballybahallow mid-way between Kanturk and Freemount on the old road from Liscarroll to Tralee, stood an old castle of the McCarthys. No trace of it can be seen now. The castle and a large tract of land was granted to three brothers named Marshall. Every year they were to supply a certain amount of charcoal to the English. This charcoal was made in three different places. The brothers hoarded a large store of treasure, which they put into a large chest, and buried it on the bank of the river Allow.
Two of the brothers were killed at the Battle of the Boyne. The remaining brother was wounded, and on his way home died at Tullylease. Before dying however he described to his servant the place where the treasure was hidden. The place could be seen from the door of the castle, where it would be uncovered by floods in the course of time. The treasure has never been discovered, although the owners cf the land on both sides, were on the look-out for it after every flood. The course of the river was changed when John’s Bridge was built, so that the treasure may be on the bank of the river still. Some silver candlesticks were found in the "quay hole", years ago. Whether they were part of the treasure or not it is impossible to say The treasure was supposed to be made up of a considerable quantity of gold, silver and sacred vessels looted from Kilmacow, Killenuna, Kilberehert, Knawhill, Knockaneda and Tullylease.
Long ago there was a crock of gold supposed to be hidden in a fort in the townland of Dromineen, in the parish of Kilbrin, in County Cork. The place is now owned by a farmer named Timothy O’Connell. The hidden treasure was said to be placed there by the Danes. Some people ventured to dig for it, and as they dug deeper they found parts of walls and underground passages. Local tradition has it that these men kept on digging for several nights but on account of a terrible rainstorm they had to abandon their work. There is no account of the gold ever being unearthed.
One of the heaviest snow-falls within living memory occurred early in February 1895 and remained on the ground until St. Patrick’s Day when it rained. At first it snowed very heavily and after a couple of days it blew a severe blizzard. The snow drifted, and covered the ditches, and blocked the roads. Birds and wild animals died; the snow being covered with a hard crust so that they couldn’t scratch their way for food. There were no ditches to climb, the snow covered everything. When it began to thaw, a person walking on the snow, would suddenly disappear through the crust, and would have some difficulty in finding his way out.
Some years ago, when you would rarely see a slated house in the country thatchers were numerous. There would be three or four thatchers in a parish to cope with all the jobs, relating to a thatched roof from putting up a new taoibheán, to putting on a new coat of thatch. The thatch or “reed”, was prepared by the farmer from wheaten straw, and fastened in place by means of "scollops" made of hazel or "sally", and sometimes larch split to the required thickness and pointed. The thatcher worked off a long ladder laid against the roof and wore a sort of leather glove on his right hand to protect it when pushing in the "scollop”. He used a rack to straighten, and comb the straw and used the back of it to hammer in the "scollop" to make a firm job. The straw was trimmed with a knife made from an old scythe-blade. The sheaf of "reed” was held in a convenient place near the ladder by means of a "bow”. having a long spike stuck in the roof. The "scollops" were stuck in a bundle of straw called a "budaheen". The breadth of straw put on from eave to ridge is called a "bay". "Scollops" are steeped for a couple of months in running water to toughen them, so that the thatcher can, bend them easily. Scollops are spoken of in terms of a thousand of scollops (by count) and straw "1 cwt. of reed” (by weight). The local shoemaker Daithin Cussen used thongs or “fongs" of leather to sew on the sole of the boot to the upper. Waxed cord was used later. No pegs, springs, or tacks were used, except for the heels. Hob nails for the sole were made by "nailers" in Liscarroll, and a smith made the tips.
Weaving was carried on by Ben Brosnahan and his son Johnny. They lived in the townland of Ballybahallow at the eastern side of Tim Mullane’s haybarn. They worked at two looms and made "bundle-cloth” from linen thread. When the wollen stuffs were woven they were taken to the "tucking mill" in Coolbane owned by O’Shaughnessy’s in order to be properly shrunken before wear. Donnchadh Mhaithiú was a weaver in Curraghs.
The road from John’s Bridge to "Thadeen Buckley’s Cross" was called Sean-a-bhealac. At this cross it joins the old road from Broadford via Tullylease and Kilbrin to Cork. At John’s Bridge it joins the old road from Liscarroll to Tralee via Stannards’ Glen and Newmarket.
The old road from Liscarroll to Tralee was made in the time of King James. One part of it near John’s Bridge was called Raon Na Cúirte. It is disused in places west of Newmarket. Another old road now disused, and hard to trace, has its beginning near Martin O’Donoghue’s, Ballybahallow and served the townlands of Cappanagoul and Kilberrihert and came out on the road by Ned Costello’s cottage, Kilberrihert. This old road was called "An bóthar Dubh" and went out of use when the road from Mullane’s Cross to Norton’s Cross was made about eighty years ago by the Public Works. A Public Works road for the relief of the famine-stricken was commenced but never finished as no more money was available. It began at P.J. O’Reilly’s stall in Liscarroll and finished at Mrs. Bill Thady’s Ballybahallow. It ran through the townlands of Rockspring, Killenuna, Knockloona, the eastern part of Ballybahallow, Renalica, Torawaddra and the Western part of Ballybahallow a distance of about five miles. This road was fenced and planted with whitethorn hedges — and all the necessary gullies made. The approaches to the bridges were prepared and all was in readiness to build them. The finished road would be perfectly level. Whellbarrows were used to take away the stuff dug from the heights and wheeled away to fill in the hollows. In some places the trunking was 10 ft.high. The men worked under horrible conditions and were paid twopence per day, without diet. After the day’s work they walked to Kilbrin or Freemount or Liscarroll for Indian meal either cooked or raw. They often ate it raw when they were too hungry to cook it. They were almost naked and were barefoot. Some had an old boot sole tied on to their feet when working with a spade. A lot of them died on the job and as an old woman said who died thirty-five years ago. “T‘hey crawled over the ditch to die”, near Hudner’s quarry where the broken stones for the road may still be seen. The tools were repaired at Mullane’s forge at Joan Barry’s Cross.
Before John’s Bridge was built the river Allow was forded where the cross-road is now and foot people crossed by means of large "stepping-stones". One of them can still be seen in Jack Thade’s yard. It looks like a big limestone. John’s Bridge was built on dry ground and when completed a new watercourse was dug to convey the river under the Bridge. The old watercourse may still be seen. The bridge was built in 1820 by John Freeman, Castlecor. Hence the name "John’s Bridge. The architect was John Ford. The old bridge was destroyed by the I.R.A. in 1921. It was supposed to be the second longest single stone arch in Ireland, it being forty-five feet from pier to pier. Although £5 was offered by the foreman to anyone who would knock away the supporting timbers with a sledge-hammer none of the men had the courage to do so. He had to do the job himself after a week screwing up his courage. The big arch settled so much whilst knocking away the timbers that the reports of the big chips cracking off the coign stones could be heard a mile away.
THE LORE OF CERTAIN DAYS
Any job (of farm work) commenced on Saturday was never finished so that the old people commenced a new job on Friday to get over the difficulty of making a new start on Saturday.
In the event of a funeral on Monday (as it was unlucky to "open" a grave on that day) it was, and is still, the custom to “redden" the grave on Sunday, that is to dig one sod off the grave so that it could be made next day. Servant boys and girls never go to their places on Mondays as they consider that day unlucky. Also the old people would never care to go on a journey on Monday. They would consider it very unlucky to meet a foxy woman as the first person on the road. They would always turn back as the journey was bound to end in disaster. To meet a man was considered very lucky.
Any change that was to be made such as moving into a new house or farm or going to school for the first time was never made on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. Ploughing was never commenced on a Monday. If a person comes into the garden where ploughing is going on, he always stands on the headland and stays there until the horses come to the headland he is standing on. On St.Patrick’s day the small boys wore a cross drawn with circles and half circles on paper. It was coloured with a green background. The colour was obtained from the juice of any green leaf. The arms of the cross were coloured yellow and red. The yellow was got from the yolk of an egg and the red was got by a grown up person pricking his finger with a needle.
The little girls wore a paper or cardboard on which was worked a cross with coloured threads and ribbons. The end of a sally twig was burned in the fire and with the charred end a cross was drawn on the left arms of the children. A cross was also made over the doors.
On Ash Wednesday as well as having a cross on our foreheads with the Blessed Ashes a cross was also drawn over the beds. No person would change their residence during the month of May. May Eve was a particularly good day to remove and under no consideration would they carry the cat with them. May Day was regarded as a holiday. No work was done on the farm such as horse-work and no green sod was turned. May Day was a special day for working Pishoghues and to guard against it holy water was sprinkled on every field, on the crops, cattle and stock, after sunset on May Eve. A cross of cow-dung was also made on the cows’ backs. On May eve a small quantity of butter was made in a pint bottle. Some people kept it in the stall and used it to rub to a sore udder. Others took it out of the bottle and stuck it on the side of the dresser. It was never eaten. The old people would always have the potatoes planted before April 20th.
MY HOME DISTRICT, CURRAGHS
The following townlands are in the school district. They are all in the Barony Of Duhallow, in the parish of Kilbrin. They are:-
Ballybane:- noted for the wood planted about the time of the famine. The land is of a boggy nature.
Curraghs:- Four families Mullane’s, Sheahan’s, Eugene O’Brien’s, Mrs. Ed O’Brien’s, and Curraghs Schools built on a pond, all thatched houses. Julia O’Mullane over 70 without a knowledge of Irish. The land is good. In his retreat to the North, Donal O’Sullivan Beare passed through part of Curraghs.
Cloughboola:- Five families N. Hannigans, Ml. Murphy’s, Dan Browne’s, D. Buckley’s. Pronounced Cloc-Bualla.
Dromineenagore [SIC: Either Dromineen or Drominagore]:- This locality was famous for goats long ago.
Garrison:- This locality and Kippagh and Rillageoch are tied together now. Garrison is a place where O’Sullivan Beare was supposed to spend a night when retreating northwards. Another version is that a party of the English camped here before the Battle of Knockanuss. The farm of Mrs. Duane was worked in olden times for culm. The little stream of water crossing the road at Sim. Brislane’s is called "the hawn”.
Knockardfree:- Seven families W. Field, Mrs. Looney, N. Mahony, Ben Clifford, M. O’Brien, A. Fitzpatrick, J .Field. The stream flowed at the back of Mich Mahony’s in olden times. The bridge was built on dry land and the water changed its course then.
Knockagolig:- Pronounced (Knock-ee-allig). There are four families:- J. Cagney, N. Culhane, D. Murphy, Mrs. W. Field.
Kilpatrick:- Three families Matt Bluitt, J .O’Brien and John Murphy.
Lisagadee:- Three families Tim Twohill, P.O’Regan, Mollie Guinee.
Torawaddra:- Three families. J. T. O’Connor, Mrs. O’Connor, N. O’Sullivan.
Renalica:- Outside farms of J. Hudner and Mullanes.
Leader, the landlord, called all his estate Curraghs. On that account Rillogeoch, Kippagh, Kilpatrick, Lisagadee, Renalica and Torawaddra are merged in the remaining townlands and nobody can point out the different places now.
It is considered very unlucky to have three persons of the same family bear the same Christian name.
It is always the custom at a station in Ballybahallow that the man-of-the house be the last to go to confession, the last to receive Holy Communion and the last to eat breakfast. On no account would he eat with the priests.
At the opposite side of the road from Hannigan's was a little thatched house in which lived a shoemaker named Thade Lynch who was nicknamed “Booney”. Set into the gable end of his house was a block of limestone on which was carved The Lamb carrying The Cross.
OUR HOLY WELLS
There is a blessed well at the western side of Ballybahallow in a field next the disused graveyard of Killenuna. The name of the well is Toberanuna. “Rounds" were paid at the well every Good Friday. principally for sore eyes and for the person's own intentions.
About fifty years ago the owner of the land considered the blessed well was in the way of the path his cows were using. He shut the well and made a drain from it to the nearest dyke. The people continued paying "rounds” for a couple of years at the dry well. The owner of the land got an "airy" fit and died leaving a widow and a young family. His eldest son got married fourteen years ago and died leaving a widow and a young family. Two years later the young ones lost their mother and are being reared by their father’s brother in Co. Limerick.
In the townland of Ballybahallow there are the remains of five forts.
The one next to the "leaca" was levelled some years ago. Seven forts can be seen from it. Over sixty years ago a little girl of three years was found asleep in it having strayed away from her home which is now Mike Sullivan’s. The fort is a mile from where she lived. Mary Carmody was her name.
The small haggard at the back of Mrs.Mary Hannon's house was a fort. There is little trace of the fort now.
There is a large single ringed fort by the roadside in Denis O’Mullane’s place. It is in a good state of preservation. Some years ago lime was burned in a kiln built against the circular ditch. When emptying water from the mouth of the kiln after heavy rain, the water flowed away very quickly when thrown in a certain place. There is supposed to be an underground passage running in the direction of one of the Kilberrihert forts. Twenty-five other forts can be seen from it. A double-ringed fort on the same farm is supposed to be an ancient burying ground. The “good people" were often seen hurling near it. People would never care to pass by the place at night. It is said to be "airy".
Another fort half in Robert Keane’s place and half in James Hudner’s can hardly be traced now. A cock used to be heard crowing in it at mid-night. All are circular.
There is a levelled fort in Mike Sullivan’s, Torawadda. People remember to see a whitethorn tree growing in it that had no thoms. Carmodys who were living there then tried to use it for firing when it was blown down by a storm. It wouldn’t burn so they had to take it out again.
There is a large fort in Mrs. H. O’Connors front field. There is supposed to be an underground passage in it. There was an opening found under a large flag in the front field in Connie Corney's time. There was an attempt made to explore it by Connie Corney. He ploughed the fort field and lifted up the flag stone. From that day on he was taken to his bed and he died within a few months. These three forts are in the forgotten townland of Tor-A-Mhadra.
There is a three-ringed fort in Mrs. Daly’s farm. There is a disused burying-ground near Matt Bluetts house called the Lios. There was a fort in Jerry Brien’s farm opposite M. Bluett's house inside the iron gate. They are all in Cill-Pádraig.
There was a fort in the field at the back of Denny Murphy’s cottage in Knockagolig. There is a large one in Lisagaddy in Tim Twohill's. Denis O’Mullane’s father, who would be a centenarian if he lived now, said that it was here the twigs for the old fashioned ridgebands and sally gads for the flails were got. The old people call Rathnagard - Réid Na Gard.
There is a fort in Jim Lyon’s field at the top of Guinee’s hill.
CARE OF THE FEET
The “feet water” was not thrown out until the last member of the household was home. It was then taken outside the door and emptied (not thrown) at the left hand side of the door. The feet water or in fact any dirty water was never left inside during the night. The old people made it a point to have a supply of clean spring water inside for the night. It was not considered “right” to go to the well for water after nightfall. The well was always some distance away from the house having a depth of not more than six or seven feet. The feet were never washed on the “flag of the fire" or under the mantel-tree. Before going to bed the kitchen was made tidy, the hearth was swept clean and the chairs arranged by the fireside. The chairs were never placed one on the other with legs turned up and nothing was left on the table. All this care was necessary in order to have everything in readiness for ‘good people" if ever they called.
Shoemakers were plentiful. Shoes were the fashion with the men of sixty or seventy years ago. They were ornamented with a big steel or brass bucket. They wore a corduroy knee-breeches with buttoned “leggings” of the same stuff fitting down over the shoes like the present day spats. Grey homespun stockings were worn in fine weather and the leggings or “gaiters" were worn in the winter and in bad weather. The guttapercha boot was also worn. It could be resoled by heating the old sole and heating the new sole of guttapercha with a red hot iron and sticking both together. The heels were made of the same stuff and had the usual iron tip fastened with tip- nails. Hobnails were also worn on the soles, but the wearer should be careful to keep them away form the fire as the heat would cause the nails to fall out. The uppers were made of leather. Some of the well to do people wore “elastic" for Sunday wear. They were also called "side-springs". They were plain fronted boots without eyelet holes and made of fine quality leather.
The local fairs are held in Kanturk and Liscarroll. They are held on the streets. In Kanturk the tolls are paid by the person who sold to Mr. Jer Fitzpatrick. The toll charge is 3d per calf, 6d per cow.
In Liscarroll the buyer pays the "custom" to the "baron" of the fair, Mr. O’Brien. It is customary for the seller to pay "luck penny" when he is paid for his beast. In olden times it was three pence a bonham; six pence a calf, and a shilling for a cow, bull and heifer. Now it is as much as a shilling a bonham, two shillings a calf and half a crown a cow. It was customary long ago to give five shillings and ten shillings "luck penny” on the sale of a horse. People used consider it lucky when making payment on a horse that some of the money be cash got for eggs sold, egg money it was called.
The person receiving money spat on it and the person who got the "luck penny", also spat on it. In olden days the deal was made with a final striking of hands or striking the animal on the back with a stick which left a muddy or cow—dung mark. Each buyer had his own special mark. The later system of marking was made with raddle and cutting the hair with a scissors. The marks also went to show other buyers or jobbers, (whether made of cow-dung, raddle or scissors) that the animal was sold. The real clinching of the bargain was the payment of "earnest" that is one or two shillings by the buyer to the seller.
When a bull was sold the owner supplied two yards of a soft rope with which to "side line" the animal. A loop was put over the bulls horns and the other end was tied to one of the foremost legs below the knee. It was tied so short that the bull was unable to lift his head and so was kept under control.
The “harvest fair" August 31st is the principal fair of the year in Liscarroll. It is a special fair for calves. The 21st October and 29th of November are also good calf fairs. The October fair was called “the new fair” the one in November was called “the winter fair”. “The Lady Day fair” was held on March 25th was a special fair for goats. “The May Fair" was held on May 31st for in-calf heifers. The June fair was held on May 31st for bulls. About eleven o’clock when the fair business was finished all the girls in the locality went into Liscarroll stayed for an hour or so, and went home when they had seen the sights.
To the people in Ballybahallow “The Patrick’s Day fair" and "The Michaelmas Fair" in Kanturk were very important as they had to find the money to pay the rent on those days to the agent at the “Head Inn” as they called "Egmont Hotel".
There was a fair or fairs held in Ballyclough. There was some reference of it I have forgotten, it finished with “now and forever more”. There was a fair held in olden times in Eugene O’Briens front field. It was called Curraghs and Maam. Fairs were held in Ballyheen and Dromagh in olden times. If the station day here in Ballybahallow fell on the Michaelmas fair day the station was postponed until next day as every tenant had to appear before the agent that day with the rent.
A cure for sore-throat is warm salt in a vessel over the fire, fill it into a stocking, go to bed and put the stocking full of salt round your neck and it on during the night.
Soot rolled up in butter and swallowed is a cure for worms in children.
A child suffering from whooping cough is relieved by crawling from side to side under a donkey’s belly.
Another cure for the same complaint is ask a man riding a white horse, “O man of the white horse how would you cure the chin-cough”, and whatever he answers is the cure.
Put a "hairy-molly" into a purse and hang it from the little patient's neck. By the time the "hairy-molly" is dead the “whopping-cough" is cured. Another cure for this complaint is to put a dearg-diabhal into a bottle, cork it and put it under the patient's bed. When the dearg—diabhal is dead the patient is cured.
To cure a whitlow in the finger get a fresh cowdung from a cow off the grass, warm it and make a poultice of it and put it to the sore finger. This poultice was applied to any sore etc when a poultice was needed.
A popular cure for Craosghalar is a gander that is fasting to be made hiss three times for three mornings into the child’s mouth or to get a posthumous child to blow his breath three times into a persons mouth.
To look through a gold ring will cure a craobh-fhabha.
A cobweb applied to a cut was an old remedy to stop bleeding and was supposed to have healing properties. A lot of cures were attached to crepe brought home from a funeral. One is to hold it to your nose in case of nose-bleed when the bleeding will stop. Chewed Slánlus applied to a cut will stop bleeding.
Water found in hollow stone will remove warts. Washing in the water trough in which smiths cool the red irons will banish warts. Put as many pebbles as you have warts in a tomhaisín and place it at the cross of four roads. Whoever picks it up will get the warts and you will be cured of them. Bury an eel’s head in the dung and according as the head is rotting the warts will be withering. In case of a cow having the "dry murrain" make her swallow a live eel or a live frog.
When suffering from a sprain massage the place with an ointment made from marsh mallow. You can also bathe it in water in which potatoes were boiled. Keep the water and boil it again when you want it. The oftener you boil the water the better it is. The old people’s idea of a purgative was to scrape off the bark of the eldertree with a downward motion stew it in water and drink it. For an emetic scrape upwards the bark, stew it and drink. For a griping colic in animals take a lace out of your boot or your garter and make certain that it will untie when both ends of the cords are pulled saying at the same time, "In the name of the Father and of the Son etc". Make the knot nine times. It is called snaidhim-na-péiste.
A country dance was held for years in a secluded spot about a mile from any road in a part of the townland of Réidh-na-liche, now known as Curraghs and Knockagolig. This part of the townland is still called the Decoy, pronounced Duck-Eye. The platform was laid down in what was formerly the farmyard of a farmer’s place. The dance was well patronized: as many as three hundred couples attending. George Quinn supplied the music at a small charge. The dancing season commenced on Easter Sunday and lasted until the end of harvest time. The song was composed by James Hudner, Ballybahallow who died in 1920. The last dance before breaking up was a “Country dance”. Dancing was carried on there up to about sixty-five years ago. The place was called the Decoy always.
THE DECOY DANCE
Decoy Dance come boys advance
And leave the village silent
You need not mind if the Publicans find
Your absence inconvenient.
Professor Hayes deserves much praise
For being an excellent teacher
None can say but he showed fair play,
To the weak and poorest creature.
On the Sabbath Day when all are gay
“Tis there you’ll see the meeting.
Of young and old brave and bold
In love and friendship greeting.
Brave George Quinn with his violin
No better with the finger
Off she goes on heels and toes
Tis then you must not linger.
From the Barracks Glen here come great
For jumping and weight-throwing
In dancing too they have all the new
And spirits ever glowing.
The place is quiet and out of sight
But ‘tis there you’ll hear the rattle
Just like the tramp when leaving camp
Of soldiers on for battle.
Joan Barry’s Cross sends many a lass
To spend the evening merry
Indeed I’m sure there are none more pure
All over Cork and Kerry.
I hope John’s Bridge will not them grudge
The pleasure they enjoyed
Where many a score on the Allows shore
Did sport in days gone by.
Gallant Freemount send any amount
To join the sport and the splendour
The female sex you couldn’t vex
They always showed such candour.
The men we find are true and kind
Though poor their habitation
Thank God we’ve still enough to till,
In spite of emigration.
Liscarroll sends forth no better sort
A few hours to sojourn
No ladies lack the brilliant rack
Their heads to adorn.
I now conclude and won’t allude
To anyone in person
But all agree in first-rate glee
That no one needs coercion.
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