Nonie Hardiman, Doonane - (Part 10)
Drama in the area:
Plays were staged in Tiaquin National School in Winters of the 1960’s. A teacher Mr. Doohan got a group of local people together and it was like entering Hollywood when we saw the school converted to a stage with lights etc for the night. Tom Hynes of Lenamore was a great actor and Chris Langan (now Rohan) also took to the stage in those times. The local Macra na Feirme drama group in Skehana had great success and their plays were eagerly awaited. The sight of Paddy Mannion and other local people acting on stage was a wonderful experience. Children and adults alike went to the plays in the old school at Garbally. Following the play a concert was usually held. This brought local singers and musicians to the stage to great applause. Tom Costello singing “Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care – the master’s gone away” and many others were loudly applauded! When the night was over we all cycled home, we were cold but the enjoyment of the night made the journey in the freezing cold or fog shorter.
Looking at the stars:
On Winter nights we often went outside on a starry night and named all the different constellations visible in the sky. There were less “outside lights” in past times so the sky was darker at night. We saw the Plough, the North star and the Three Sisters and we watched with great enthusiasm when we thought we would see Sputnik in orbit. It was a constant source of wonder to imagine that people could be up so far in the sky in spaceships orbiting the Earth. The interest in space continued for me from the first landing on the Moon to the current Satellites that orbit frequently. Every time Leo Enright of RTE announced a current event in space I would be out with my newly acquired binoculars to see what I could see from Doonane! Mars was orange coloured and there were many announcements of comets and other happenings in space. Many years ago I saw the Northern Lights in the sky towards Darby Forde’s house.
The Camera :
Peter bought a Kodak Brownie camera before our wedding. The rolls of film were bought at O’Neill’s Chemist in Athenry and great care was taken in rolling the film and clipping it correctly in place. Good sunshine was needed to take photographs and the person taking the photo had to have their back to the sun and look down into the camera instead of looking through a lens in modern cameras. This meant we had to look into the glare of the sun when we were lined up to take a “snap”. The film was then taken back to the Chemist for developing and the photos were eagerly awaited and arrived in yellow and black covers. Later on colour film was available. We took a lot of black and white photos on our wedding day and on honeymoon and it is lovely to have them. Colour film became available later. The Brownie is still in its bag but film is no longer available.
Sunday after Mass:
Two Masses were said on Sunday (First Mass and Second Mass). The paper and a few other groceries were bought at Costello’s and we cycled home. Sunday was the only day in the week when a fry was cooked for breakfast in the house and Peter always had bought rashers and sausages for the weekly treat . After breakfast, the newspaper was read from cover to cover. A neighbour who lived alone at Kilbeg wood often came to visit on a Sunday. Jack Burke arrived wearing his wellingtons. He often brought Peggy’s Leg and we loved it. He drank tea and chatted and then took the Sunday Press and read the cartoons in the paper. He turned the pages to “The Looney’s” and” Blondie and Dagwood” cartoons and really enjoyed them. He laughed loudly behind the newspaper at the funny stories and that provided entertainment for us all. During the Summer and after the dinner around 1:30 p.m. the radio would be turned on again and the sound of Michael O’Hehir would bring us all to Croke Park for the football and hurling matches. Galway was the great football team of the 1960’s and we had plenty to celebrate although we always thought Michael O’Hehir was favouring “on the other side”!
An Spailpin Fanach:
A stranger came to our house and, although there were eight of us in a small house, we had a place for him. His name was Martin Dirrane. He was a travelling farm worker and visited this area every year. He was a tall strong well-built man, gentle and soft spoken and very intelligent. He stayed for a length of time to help out with various work around the farm. He brought water from the well and helped dig drains and pick potatoes. He often spoke about a place called Baghdad and we knew it was far away. Martin was originally from Connemara and had been a soldier in the British Army. He fought in Baghdad in 1914 to 1918 in the First World War. Little was known of his family and he never mentioned relatives. When he was paid on a Thursday or Friday he headed to Burke’s and had his few drinks. He always arrived home with sweets. It is a pity we didn’t ask him more questions about his life. Martin is buried in Monivea Cemetery.
Cures, medicines and tonics:
We seem to have a cure for many ailments and seldom visited a Doctor in times gone by. My mother, in her eighties, would get a Winter ‘flu and would be confined to bed for some time. Dr. Finnerty or later Dr. Rozario from Athenry would arrive. It was a nervous time when the Doctor arrived. He drove a big car and carried a bag and a “hospital smell” entered our kitchen. He was directed upstairs to attend to the patient. He would leave with a quiet word and we sighed with relief when he was gone. The children then ran upstairs and couldn’t wait to taste the newly opened bottle of Lucozade beside the bed. Nana would be better soon. In a few days she was up and about baking and cooking as usual! Certain medicines were always kept in the “press”. Extract of Malt was taken before going to school, it was sticky and had to be twisted around the spoon but it was easy to swallow and tasted nice although a bit “fishy”. Radio Emulsion was another sweet tasting milky drink we took to prevent colds. Andrew’s Liver Salts were on hand for adults who felt they had eaten too much and Milk of Magnesia was the cure for upset stomachs. It had a starchy milky taste and nobody liked it. Worst of all was the Cod Liver Oil which was horrible to taste as it clung to our throats but it was a great dose to prevent illness. Chilblains were common in those times and toes and fingers were often affected. Hives were a common complaint and Iodine was applied as well as Calamine lotion which was also used for sunburn in Summer. The cold weather also caused a rash which we called “Iorach” at the back of the knees in children going to school. The cold wet weather and the coat hitting the backs of the knees caused the rash which was sore and raw. All these ailments were treated at home and were short-lived. We all had good health and we were fit from all the physical work of lifting pots and ovens and the constant drawing of water in buckets to the house and carrying of buckets of milk to calves, feeding of sheep and attending to the horse. Every day was so full of activity and constant tasks to keep the house warm and the family fed. Only at night did the work end when we relaxed beside the fire and were delighted if a visitor came.
The Cuckoo and the Swallows:
The twittering of the swallows as they arrived to build nests was always a happy event and I loved to hear their chirping and to watch them flying and dipping up and down around the yard and building their mud nests in the rafters of the outhouses. The Cuckoo often landed on the tree in the garden and I loved to hear the singing. It was a sign that Summer was on the way. Likewise, the coming of the Winter was often heralded by the passing of the wild geese as they flew over the house on a cool evening. Swans nested at Pol Mor and they were a pleasant sight indeed as they swam peacefully on the water. In the Autumn I watched the swallows line up on the wires before taking off on their long journey and I prayed that I would be here to greet them the following year.
The years go by:
As the years went by great improvements came with running water to all houses, people had less physical work with the help of modern machinery and homes were more comfortable with extra rooms and modern conveniences, roads were tarred and improved and more people had cars. The family grew up and life was busy. The older generation passed away and are laid to rest very near me in Doonane cemetery. We travelled to Dublin on occasions and I went to England by boat to Joe Flaherty’s niece Irene Wright and her family for various celebrations. In 1979 Pope John Paul came to Ireland and the family went to Ballybrit for the occasion. Peter stayed at home to watch the events on television. Michael Fahy and himself stayed inside for the day and had a few beers while watching the event live on television with commentary by Brian Farrell. The whole country came to a standstill that week. In 1983, I became a widow at the age of 58 due to the untimely death of Peter. Life threw tragedy and worry, ups and downs in our direction. Later the family was extended and, when the good times and happy occasions arrived, they were celebrated at every opportunity. I became a grandmother and was delighted to watch a new generation of the family growing up. These happy times helped me move onwards and embrace life and appreciate the modern world which changed so much since my young days. I maintained an open mind and kept up with the modern trends and never lost my interest in current affairs, politics and music. In the 1990’s I made my first journey in a plane to New York and loved every minute of the flight. I walked Fifth Avenue, visited Long Island and travelled to Washington DC by train to meet our Keary cousins where I visited President Kennedy’s grave. From New York I went by plane to San Francisco to our Mannion relatives in Petaluma, saw the Californian redwood trees and laid eyes on the Pacific Ocean. I had many family outings to different places in Ireland and enjoyed them all.
No matter where I went I was always very happy to return home to the old house where I was born and to the village of Doonane where it all began.