Athea Drama Group AGM
Athea Drama Group AGM will take place at the Con Colbert Hall, Athea on Monday September 5th at 8.30pm. This is an important year for our group as we celebrate 25 years. New members most welcome.
Car Boot Sale & Indoor Market
West Limerick 102 FM are holding their next car boot sale and indoor market at the Community Centre, Newcastle West on Sunday 4thSeptember from 8am. To book a stall contact the Station on 069-66200.The gates open at 7.30am and all the proceeds will go towards the running of the station.
That Time of Year
The other morning dawned with the first hint of frost in the air. I know it wasn’t much but it was enough to remind us that the fall of the year is fast approaching and summer is over. There may be good weather in September and October but the day is getting short and good drying is gone. There were some very important activities that took place in September long ago (some of them still do), the All-Ireland finals, the annual holiday in Ballybunion and the Listowel races. It was a time for relaxation after the hard work of the bog and the meadow. Harvests were later than they are today because the meadows would not be cut until July and, depending on the weather, it could be into September before everything was in the barn or the turf shed.
Saving hay was the main summer activity and so important to feed the cows throughout the winter. It all depended on the weather and we must remember that there were no weather forecasts in those days so farmers had to look for signs in the sky and in the movement of birds and wild animals to foretell what the following day would bring. Some were really good at this and of course it was handed down from father to son. My neighbour, Mick “Phil” Woulfe was very good at reading signs. He would put his thumbs inside his braces, study the evening sky and say something like “ we will have rain tomorrow but not until after dinnertime”. He would be right. Very little machinery in those days so the hay was turned with a pike, made into “crowers” (phonetic spelling!), made into cocks and then piked into a horse cart to draw into the barn where the pike was used again. Hard work so when the harvest was finally over it was time to relax and rejoice. There was great interest ion the hurling and football finals, especially if Limerick and Kerry were involved. Some were lucky enough to be able to go to the matches but the majority listened to them on some neighbour’s radio. Radios were scarce so those who were lucky enough to own one had to welcome a big crowd on All-Ireland day. I remember listening to Micheál Ó Hehir doing the commentary and he could create great excitement as he described every kick and catch with such detail that it took very little imagination to close the eyes and be by the pitch. The week after the football final was the week of the races. This was like a local holiday and almost everybody made their way to Listowel for one of the three days at least to join in the festivities. “Going to the races” did not always mean actually attending the race course. Many people, especially those with families never went beyond the Market Yard where the amusements were. It was a great treat for the children to get rides on the various contraptions that seemed like magic at the time. Many is the man who went to “the races” , went into the first pub he met ant never left it! Others were racing enthusiasts and enjoyed the actual races but everybody had a good time and talked about it for days afterwards. We, as youngsters, made money for the races by picking blackberries. There was a factory in Brosna that made fruit juices and they bought the blackberries from the local shops. We picked them into gallons, it took such a long time to fill one, and took them to Leahy’s shop by Cratloe creamery where we might get a shilling or more depending on the weight. The money didn’t last too long in Listowel but we had a whale of a time.
The more affluent farmers went for a weeks holidays to Ballybunion. They stayed in various establishments but, unlike today, they were not fed and found, oh no, they brought their own food with them. They would arrive laden with spuds, bacon, cabbage, turnips, carrots, parsnips, bread, eggs and anything else they fancied and the landlady did the cooking for them.
One of my neighbours was a bit late finishing the turf one year so he let the ladies go on ahead and he would join them in a day or two. He got a lift to Ballybunion on the back of a motorbike owned by Mossie Wrenn. He took a goose with him which he kept under his arm. They drove on and when he arrived in Ballybunion Mossie looked behind him but the passenger had disappeared. He turned around and headed back for Listowel. He met his man, not too far from a humpbacked bridge between Lisselton and Listowel. He had taken the bridge too fast and dislodged the poor farmer who picked himself up and was walking away to Ballybunion – still holding on tightly to the goose!
Domhnall de Barra