by Domhnall de Barra

Once again we are a bit short on the news front but however we have items from Kathleen Mullane (Kathleen’s Corner), Tom Aherne (by Carrig Side), Peg Prendeville (Knockdown News), Marian Harnatt (Abbeyfeale Notes) and I have included an old photo in the Sports section which was sent to me be Denis O’Connell whose father Christy (brother of John O’Connell, Gortnagross) died recently. Christy was a member of the 1950 team that included some great footballers. Have a look.

Today is the last day in April, a day that had great significance for past generations. Pisógs were commonly practised by certain people and May Eve was a time when they were at their strongest. The Irish “Pisóg” comes from the English word “Pishogue” which is a term for magic or a spell. The people who practiced the black arts had the power to cause disease and sickness in animals and humans and to increase or decrease produce such as hay and milk. They were mostly women who were thought to be able to take the form of a hare or other animal. To get what they wanted they had to visit the property of their victims and touch the crops or animals. People were really scared of this so, on May Eve, they went around their lands and houses, sprinkling holy water to ward off the evil spirits. I remember my father and mother doing it and my wife Noreen does it to this day.  Did they exist at all?  There is very strong anecdotal evidence that they did and I can recall several stories from my own locality that would be hard to make up. One incident involved a farm that started to have bad luck. Calves and bonhams were born dead, hay rotted and milk went sour in the tanks. One local man told me that they were piking hay into the barn and every second cock had eggs in it, a common sign of pishoguery. Things were so bad that eventually they went to the parish priest who brought a colleague from the diocese who was trained to deal with the supernatural. They said Mass and blessed all the land. From that day forward their luck turned and everything went back to normal. Of course there were some exaggerations and pisógs were blamed for  accidental misfortune that happens all the time. The clergy, at the time, did believe that there was evil afoot and helped the people where they could. I firmly believe hat evil does exist and is evident in the atrocities that occur every day in this world. Maybe there is always a war between good and evil and we struggle at times to be as good as we would like to be. Anyway, pisógs seemed to have died down but many people will not take the chance and the holy water will get a liberal sprinkling tonight.

I got a letter with a few photos from a person who does not want to be named (for obvious reasons) and describes himself/herself as “a friend of the earth”  It basically says that the cutting of turf by machines does a very neat job laying out the turf but leaves the bog from where the turf was cut in an awful state. In bygone days the stripping sod was laid in the bog hole preserving the flora of the region but the new method means that valuable and rare plants and flowers will be lost. I don’t think there is much to worry about as the days of cutting turf at all are numbered. There is a ban coming on the burning of fossil fuels and, they say, turf causes far more pollution than coal. It is inevitable that things are going o change. New houses can no longer have chimneys so the writing is on the wall. Turf was very important in this part of the world and gave employment to hundreds of workers from late spring to the end of summer. Most households cut  more than they needed for themselves and then had turf for sale to houses in towns and villages who had no bog of their own or to the many lorry men who sold it down the County Limerick. It was a nice little earner during tough times in this country.

Turf neatly laid out near the road

What was left after cutting