Nonie Hardiman, Doonane - (Part 2)
I thought I’d never see 14 yrs old when I could stay at home from school! There were very few children going to second level then. A few girls joined the Nuns and got a free secondary education. A few joined the priesthood including Fr. Costello who was a cousin of my own. When I finished school I stayed at home working on the farm. The farms were small then. Part of the farm was kept as grassland and most people had 2 or 3 cows, sheep, cattle, horse, pony. We always had a nice horse and pony – very useful for all the ploughing and harrowing. People around here were practically self sufficient then. Everyone had a garden beside the house and in that garden all the vegetables were grown – cabbage, onions, parsnips, carrots, lettuce in Summer. We milked the cows morning and evening and always had a plentiful supply of milk and butter. My mother used to sell it to the local shop (Burke’s, Colemanstown). When milk was scarce we used to buy some from Thomas Crowe in Currandoo.
In the yard in those days we kept hens, ducks, turkeys and guinea hens. The turkeys were lovely. We had 24 one year – half white and half bronze. They were always well fed. The nettles in the garden were cut and put into a big pot and boiled. Boiled oaten meal was added to the nettles in a bucket and fed to the turkeys by hand. They loved that food. They went away through the fields for most of the day and in the evening they returned to eat again and then to roost for the night. The big fear was the fox! My mother had an old saying “Time enough lost the ducks, walkin aisy (easy) found them”! The fox would often be around and raided the hen house at times and you would find the hens killed and feathers everywhere in the morning.
The flower garden:
We kept a flower garden at the sunny side of the house and my mother and I enjoyed the flowers. An old flowering currant hedge separates the garden from the haggard and white and red roses climbed over the wall. Wallflowers were grown and the rockets grew every year. The orange montbretias bloomed in late Summer and later on I had peony roses. My mother had grown an apple tree from a seed in a jar many years ago. The tree is there to this day. In the corner a cherry tree grew and it had beautiful blossoms in Spring. The Hoade family often came for cherries. We also kept a rhubarb patch. The rest of the garden was taken up with drills of vegetables and potatoes.
Our Protestant neighbours:
The Crowe’s in Corrandoo had a big farmhouse and a lovely garden with apple trees and hives of bees. When milk was scarce I used to cross the field for milk to Mrs Crowe and she would always have something nice and also she used to put a section of honey in the bag at times. Thomas Crowe was a Protestant and his wife was Catholic. He was a lovely man and a great neighbour. They had a beautiful pony and trap and used to bring me to Mass on occasions. Nickie was their driver. In later years the Crowe’s re-located to Stamullen, Co. Meath. We were very sad to see them leaving as they were great neighbours. The land was divided up among the neighbours by the Land Commission and we got some fields at Crowe’s also.
Opposite Crowe’s house in Corrandoo was an entrance to Clancy’s house and Monivea Castle and the Mausoleum – home and burial place of the Ffrench family, the local landlords of this area. Lady Rosemond Ffrench was the last occupant of the Big House and I attended her wake in 1938 when I was 12 yrs old. She was laid out in the Great Hall of the house. My mother, Catherine Fahy (her cousin) and myself walked over and the older women were astounded by the paintings of “nude people” on the walls. Monivea Castle had many paintings and antiques, all of which were sold at an auction before the house was knocked down. After the wake, we visited the Mausoleum and I was glad to leave it as there were coffins in the crypt underneath!