Posted in Posts and podcasts

Hallow E’En – 1938

Collected by Brian MacMahon from Nicholas and Mrs Mac Mahon
Toonagh N.S. Co. Clare
Principal Proinnsias Gordún

First Mammy makes a cake and puts a ring and a sixpence into it. Then whoever gets the ring will be married and whoever gets the sixpence the richest of the family. Then we get a long cord and hang it from the ceiling and fasten an apple and a candle on to the cord to see who would get a bite of the apple.

We get three saucers and we put water in one and earth in the other and salt in the last one. Then we put a handkerchief around someone’s eyes and he would put into one of the saucers. If he put his hand into the saucer of earth he would be first to die; if he put his hand into the saucer of water he would be be first to cross the sea and if he put his hand into the saucer of salt he would be first to be married.
Next we put two beans down on the flag of the fire and name someone to be the husband and wife. We leave the beans there until one of them jumps. If they did not jump the people they stood for would not marry. If one of them jumped the pair would not like one another and whichever of them jumped we would make a show of the person for whom it stood.

Here are some tricks. The First is pinning a cup of water to the wall. First you get a cup of water and a pin and be pretending to another person how to do it. You put the cup on to the wall and put the pin under it. Then let the pin fall and the person goes to pick it up. While he is bending down for it you spill the cup of water on top of him.
Another trick is to place a stick on the ground so that you cannot jump over it. To do this you get a stick and put it up near the wall.
Another still is to kiss a book inside and outside without opening it. Geta book and kiss it inside in the house and go out and kiss it outside.
Putting yourself through the keyhole is another. Write your name on a piece of paper and pass it through the keyhole.
Putting your right hand where your left hand cannot touch it is another. Place it on the left elbow.
The Schools’ Collection, Vol.0613, P.105

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Castlebar, Galway, Gort, Kinvara – 1910

The W.A. Record (Perth, WA: 1888-1922)
Saturday 28th May, 1910 p.4
Castlebar District Council has adopted a resolution calling on the County Council to refuse financial aid to the National University until the demand for essential Irish is acceded to.
The Committee adopted a further resolution expressing disapproval of the action of the Board of Studies of the National University regarding Irish and asking the County Councils to stand from rewarding pecuniary aid until Irish is fairly treated.

Lord Clanricard obtained a number of decrees against his tenants at Gort Quarter Sessions for non payment of rent, and the Irish Land Commission obtained 80 decrees.

Mr Duffy M.P. speaking at a large meeting in Kinvara organised to protest against a refusal by the trustees of the Sharpe estate of a reduction in rents to the tenants, said if the present dispute were not stopped it would eventually involve the other local landlords and the Government in a row, the consequences of which nobody could forsee. Rev. Father Keely, P.P. who presided, said the tenants were determined to persist in their agitation till they had conquered.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Local Happenings – 1921

Collected by Mary Leary, Kinvarra, Co. Galway from Patrick O’Leary (age 70)
There is nothing as terrific as a house burning. It is dreaded by every-body. There is scarcely a town or city in Ireland without its share of ruins of burned houses. Galway comes under the rigour of burned houses as well as every other town and city in Ireland because in a town called Kinvara the ruins of a burned draper’s shop are to be seen.
This draper’s shop is supposed to be burned by the Black and Tans about the year 1921 when Ireland was infested with them. The burning occurred about eleven o’clock on a dark stormy winter’s night. The Black and Tans entered the shop in a wild fury and went to the kitchen where a range was. They spilled petrol in the fire which immediately burst into flames. The blaze immediately reached the roof overhead, and they followed from the roof to the ceiling and thus the goods caught fire.
The occupants of the shop tried to rush to safety and luckily enough they succeeded in escaping from the flames. Their attempts to rescue the contents of the shop were all in vain. All the goods that were in the shop were burned to ashes. Men from the neighbourhood did their best to quench the flames but it was impossible for them to overcome the raging flames. Water was brought in large quantities but the more water was thrown on the flames the wider they spread. Higher and higher they rose until the whole town was illuminated by their lights. The flames could be seen for miles and miles outside the town.
Many lives were in danger in the conflagration. A near-by public-house was beginning to take fire when the occupants luckily felt it taking root. They sprang at once for water and neighbours helped them to extinguish the flames.
No lives were lost in the burning. The fleeing of the occupants from the house at the beginning saved their lives. The wind blew very strong and this made the flames burn through more swift. On that account there was no possibility of saving the burning house. The ruins of the burned shop are to be seen in Kinvarra to the present day. Never will the terrific burning of the draper’s shop be in oblivion by the people of Kinvarra.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Bird Lore – 1938

The Schools’ Collection

Crows are most common in this district. They never migrate. The crows build their nests on the tops of high trees. The robins build their nests in the holes of walls or in fences. Magpies build their nests on the chimney tops. The wrens build their nests on bushes or in holes of walls. Blackbirds and thrushes build their nests in ivy trees. The crow makes his nest from sticks and hay. The robin makes his nest moss and wool. The magpie makes his nest from earth and sticks. The wren makes his nest from moss and he puts feathers in the inside of it. The only birds that migrate are swallows cuckoos in this district. The swallows come to the district in the month of May and remain in it until August. The cuckoo comes to the district in the month of April and remains until September.
The weather can be judged by the behaviour of birds it is an old belief if the cuckoo sings on trees without leaves that corn will be scarce on that year. If the seagulls fly inland it is the sign of coming storm and rain. If the wild-geese fly inland it is the sign of coming snow. If the swallows fly high fine weather may be expected. For anglers in Spring it is always unlucky to see single magpies but two may be always regarded as a favourable omen and the reason is, that in cold and stormy weather one magpie alone leaves the nest in search of food the other remaining sitting upon the eggs or with the young but if two go out together it is only when the weather is warm and mild and favourable for fishing.

Collected by Eileen Dolan, Carnanthomas, and Ballymanagh N.S. Co. Galway, from Peter Fahy Roo, Craughwell. From

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Seaweed – 1854

The Courier (Hobart,Tas) 28th July 1854 p2
Enormous Demand for Seaweed (abridged)
The great demand for seaweed manure, the high prices it brought, and the great breadth of mind devoted to potato planting this season, may be inferred from the fact that it is computed by those who have had the best opportunities of forming an accurate estimate, that the very large sum of £10,000 has been paid for seaweed this season at the Galway docks alone. If we take into account the quantities which
have been disposed of at Oranmore, Kinvarra, Ballyvaughan, and the other creeks and landing places within the bay, the cutting of seaweed this season must have realised upwards of £13,000. It has been conveyed to a considerable distance, by boats along the lakes, by carts on the road, and even by railway. Perhaps in no former year has the use of it been more general, or the price paid for It so high, as in the present season.

Galway Packet.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Kinvarra -1906

The Church of Ireland Gazette 1906 p 28
According to a poem by Mac Liag, the Secretary of Brian Boru (Trans. Os. Soc. v. 287) the old name of Kinvarra in County of Galway was Rinn Beara, or Ceann Beara, from Beara, a chief of the Firbolgs, who also flourished in Cloudland.
O’Curry, however (Lectures, pp. 292, 303) quoting from old tales, and Joyce (Irish Names i., 523) give Ceann Mara as the Irish form of Kinvarra. O’Reilly (Irish Dictionary) has sea as one of the meanings of Bar, and it appears to me that Beara, Bear, Ber, Bior, Bir are forms of Bar. to which also may be referred the renowned Bheurtha (Vera). This word Bar, meaning water or well, occurs in Tobar, a well, i.e. Do-Bar, and in Tiobraid, a well, an extended form of Tobar,which is preserved in the name of Tipperary, or “Well of Ara.” Mara (old Mora) is the genitive case of Muir, and Muir is from old Irish More, cognate with Latin Mare, Norse Marr. Anglo-Saxon and English Mere (cf. Merman and Mermaid), Welsh Mor, Gaulish Mori, Gothic Marei (from Mar),German Meet, and Sanskrit Mira.
J.F. Lynch

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Born in the village of Ardrahan – 1905

The W. A. Record (Perth W.A) 5th August, 1905 p. 12
Accompanying a recent contribution to the “Irish World’s” Gaelic Language Fund from a subscriber to that paper was the following terse poetic sentiment of the donor :
I’m just a plain hard-working man.
I was born in the village of Ardrahan,
And I like to do the best I can
To help dear Mother Erin.
For I spent many a happy day
In Galway, Tuam and Monivea,
Kinvarra, Gort and sweet Loughrea,
Athenry and old Kilclairin.
My hands are just as tough as leather,
My face is bronzed with wind and weather,
My heart is just as light as a feather,
As I mingle with the throng.
When times are bad I never holler,
Thank the Lord I can spare, a dollar
To help the cause along.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

Cahercon 1921

The Catholic Press Sydney, NSQ 21st April 1921 p.16 (abridged)
A sensational story of the burning of the house of a widow and the stripping and ill treatment of seven young men who were inside at the time comes from Caheroncen (sic.) Kinvarra.
Mrs Bridget Quinn was visited in the evening by 14 men, supposed to be members of one of the divisions of Crown forces. They were dressed in civilian clothes and wore false moustaches. They arrived in a motor lorry, and declared that they were looking for the murderers of policemen. To seven men who were playing cards in the house they shouted ‘hands up,’ and, covering them with rifles and revolvers, took them outside where they were kept under guard while the house was searched.
Then the men were compelled to strip and lie flat on the ground. They declare that all that was in their clothes was taken and the clothes burned. The house of Mrs Quinn was burned to the ground, and, having implored the raiders, she was permitted to free a team of horses in a stable.
The naked men were told to sing ‘God Save the King.’ They stated that they did not know the words, and the National Anthem was then sung for them, and they were compelled to repeat it, and then told to clear off, shots being discharged after them.
A doctor who attended them subsequently told me their bodies bore marks, and although they had not been seriously hurt, they were in a very nervous condition.
No member of the Crown forces has ever been attacked in the district.

Posted in Posts and podcasts

St. Colman

Irish Times 8th October 1904, p9 (abridged)
We drove through a rocky defile for about three miles, where large boulders on either side of the roadway were apparently so lightly poised it seemed as if a strong puff of wind might dislodge them and send them down on our path.
“Now, we must get out here. I believe the oratory is somewhere there,” and my friend waved her hand to include a three mile circuit.
“Let us have tea first,” I mildly suggested. So we sat on the grassy fence and produced our tea pasket. Then we rose like giants refreshed, first giving the old man a cup of powerful tea to “cut the drouth.” We made for the nearest Galway wall, and patiently made a gap to get through, my conscientious friend building it up when we had got through. You see galway walls are made of large loose stones with the daylight visible through them; this is done purposely so that the wind can pass through them, an ordinary wall would offer too much resistance to the winds from sea and mountain which alternate and prevail in these parts. I have heard the “Galway Blazers,” when pursuing the crafty fox, take the fences at a flying leap, but I do not believe any one else could perform such a feat. Crossing the extensive field of “praties,” we came to the conclusion there was no church or ruin within two miles, so back we plodded, took down and re-built the wall again, but when this was repeated in a wheat field, and once more in a field of turnips my ardour began to abate and I even murmured “some other day perhaps.” Just then we heard a man’s voice, “If ’tis lookin’ for St. Colman’s Church, yez are all wrong. You’d never find it. Hould on a bit and I’ll show ye the way,” and putting the scythe with which he was at work against a wall, he told us to follow him. We coinjointly deprecated taking him from his work, but he replied with Irish politeness, “I am only working for myself so ’tis no odds.” Leading the way we followed through fields of tangled mountain grass and bog myrtle, through purple heather and rushes; it was slow work, as the growth hid the stones, which were truly a trap to the unwary. After slips and stumbles, we stopped to take breath in a hazel coppice; on emerging from thence our guide, pointing to the slop of the mountain, said “There it is before you now,” but it was some time ere we could distinguish the tiny grey ruined church from the back ground of the limestone rock.
“Here we are,” we exclaimed simultaneously. Such an out of the world spot even in these days of hurry and bustle and sight seeing; not a sound but the murmur of a mountain stream; here indeed it might truly be said, “Grim silence held her solitary sway.” We stopped at the stone covered holy well of the old-world saint; in a niche placed by some pilgrims we found two scallop shells. On a hot August day one need not be reminded to “drink deep of the wave.” Hanging down in luxuriance from the roof were flourishing fronds of the Asplenium Tricomanes and Scolopendrium Vulgare ferns.
The present day followers of the saintly St. Colman Macduagh who carry away stones and plants from his hermitage, and who marvel at the legendary powers of fasting credited to the ascetic, seem to overlook entirely his abstemiousness from all drink save that of his mountain well. We climbed about amongst the fallen masonry till we stood in the oratory itself, which consists of one side wall and the two gables.
The Reverend J. Fahey in his interesting work on the ruins in the Diocese of Kilmacduagh says:-
It must have been previous to A.D. 597 when St. Colman entered on his seven years’ retirement here. At this time the now treeless Burrin hills were clothed with dense forests, so that the spot chosen by the Saint for solitude and contemplation was doubly more different of discovery than at present.

The existing ruin shows signs of restoration, as is supposed in the eleventh century, which is indicated by the difference in the masonry. Like all those of that period, the church is very small, being only 16 feet long, by 12 broad. Dr. Petrie has observed that these tiny churches were merely erected for the private devotion of the founders, for in the immediate vicinity of these oratories is usually found a cave or cell which served as habitation for the hermit. We saw St. Colman’s grotto about 30 feet above the church in the mountain side. We can hardly fancy this being the above for seven years of the recluse, for the grotto is only 15 feet by 5; it is, however high enough for a tall man to stand upright in, and doubtless the hermit’s contemplation was chiefly out of doors where his eyes would wander to the blue heavens, where his spirit loved to soar, and at night-fall would gaze on “the ocean hung on high, bespangled with those isles of light so wildly, beautifully bright.” Ah, if that old rugged peak of Ceanaille could tell us all it saw of the good man’s life at its foot, how much more interesting would it be than the stories invented by later day monks, and accredited to him as showing the miraculous powers they supposed St. Colman to be possessed of. Here is one:-
The saint lived here quite alone save for one youthful disciple, and the story is, that after the long Lenten fast – which, doubtless, the mountain air must have aggravated – there was nothing to be found in the scanty larder of the hermitage save a little wild fowl and the usual herbs wherewith to celebrate the approaching high festival. The Saint urged that God could provide a dinner if He thought fit. Now, it came to pass that the King of Connaught was staying at his palace at Kinvarra for the Easter festivities, but he had no idea that his saintly kinsman was only five miles distant in his retreat. So the legend goes on to tell that as his Majesty King Quain (sic.) was about to seat himself at his sumptuous repast, his aspiration was that so rich a banquet might be set before some true servants of God who needed it.
With this thought, the dishes were speedily whipped off the table by invisible hands! King Quain and his followers mounted their steeds and followed the dinner, when lo! it was placed before St. Colman and his hungry disciple. The arrival of the King of Connaught and his cortege caused considerable alarm to the hermit and his disciple. Then St. Colman, raising his hand, commanded the horsemen to remain where they were, and move they could not till the Saint had finished his repast, and prayed for their release.
The smooth limestone plateau upon which the horsemen’s progress was stayed is full of small round holes which the faithful believe to be the hoof marks of King Quain’s (sic.) horses. This spot was from its appearance at one time the bottom of the lake, and the supposed hoof marks are apparently water-worn holes, but of this we did not hint to our simple guide.