We have heard the Crickets chirping after dark in the summer. They spend most of their time in old stone walls that have plenty of hiding places, some of the old walls have the white thorn tree growing with their roots intertwined with the stones, a perfect home for the critters.
In the winter the weather gets cold and some of the little critters come in the house, they make their winter home by the fire in the kitchen, and some times during the day you will see one scurrying across the floor from one hiding place to another.
When the old kerosene lamp is turned off for the night and all is quiet now it’s the crickets time to sing his song and the chirping begins.
If you were out working
the fields all day, the grass and rushes are wet most of the time, so
your shoes and socks are soaked. If you were wearing the Wellington your
socks are wet with sweat.
So what does all of this to do with crickets?
The old story goes that if you happen to step on a cricket. Accidental of course, the rest of the Cricket family would put holes in your socks, and that’s “Just the way it was”
you know the words?
If you remember it e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
nAthair,ata ar neamh, Go naofar d’ainm
If you were to go in the neighbor’s home when they were churning, you would go up to the churn and take the churn dash and move it up and down for a short period, then turn it over to the husband or wife that were using it. This custom goes back hundreds of years, and we still did it in my youth. Before radio and television we went out to the neighbor’s homes at night (it was called rambling) some nights there would be four or five ramblers there. The conversation was usually, the weather, ghost stories, and the bringing of the butter or taking of the butter.
story goes, that some people had the power to take the butter from your
churn, when you finished churning your milk there would be no butter there.
On the other hand the people with the powers would have a churn full of
The story also goes; the wife was churning when the husband noticed a black Salamander (thousand leggier) walking on the kitchen floor. He hit it with the broom but it got away. Believe it or not, the dark haired woman two town-lands over was limping for a month.
If you happen to go in to a home and they are churning, just take your turn. You know what I mean.
you ever footing turf on the mountain on a very calm day when they attacked.
little pig In the late spring was the time to buy our little Bonbh, that
is the irish word for a little pig and the irish word for a big pig is
Muc. The fair day in Dowra was on the third of the month, if the third
was on Sunday it was held on Monday. The morning of the fair my father
would put the straddle and mats on the old donkey, then a creel one on
each side, we also took a burlap bag and we were off to the fair. I loved
the fair days, and today I could ride on the donkey sitting just behind
the mats and creels. There was a big field they called the green and that
is where the cattle and sheep were bought and sold. Some farmers were
there with their litter of young pigs. When my father picked one we put
him in the burlap bag and put the bag in one of the creels we had to put
a stone in the other creel to balance the load. Back home we had a small
byre, it was in the field just below the lower haggard and that would
be the home for our little pig. If our new arrival happened to be a boy,
well a visit from Terry Gilrane was for sure. We all know what our little
pig was missing when Terry left. If that wasn't bad enough we also put
two rings in his nose to keep him from digging the rings were on the outer
edges of his snout. He was just like a little pet and was very friendly
we let him out in the fields during the days and back to his byre at night
we put lots of hay and straw in there for his bed. He would move all the
hay and straw to one corner and that is where he lay down. Unlike other
farm animals the pig would never soil his bed. If you were out in the
fields he would come right up to you, he liked to have his belly rubbed
and would lie down on the grass in front of you. We all know the sad ending
to my little pig story. One frosty morning on my way to school Old Terry
was on his way to our house.
We had a few old cows. They were quiet and never made much noise, a few months after the cow had a calf she would come in heat, now this quiet old cow became wild, she would run around the fields, she would jump on the other cattle, and if she got out on the road she would take off.
If you do not want a calf in nine months, the best thing to do would be to put old “Betsy” in the byre for a few days.
Most small farmers in my time did not have their own bull, the Buggy Mc Gorties had a bull, also the Flynn’s down by Dowra had one.
To take old “Betsy” to one of them was easier with two people one in front and one in back. The Flynn’s had an enclosed yard close to the byer where they kept the Bull and it was there we put old Betsy.
Mr. Flynn or his daughter
would open the door and the old bull would stroll out with that “get
out of my way look on his face” It did not take him long to do what
he does best.
This old bull might have known what was in the future and that is what kept that mean look on his face. Today most farmers have their cows artificially inseminated they refer to it as calling the A man. I have one question. How do they get the semen from the bull?
Our little dogs name was Diamond he always looked happy and it looked like he had a smile on his face.
Our cat purred as he looked at you with a smile on his face.
old bull never looked happy!
Rambling was a great
pass time for the men in the winter time, some nights there were three
or four men sitting by the fire.
They told of the man coming home late one night and a great big blue light appeared in the field next to him, after some time it moved away and was joined by a lot of smaller lights, then after a while they all disappeared.
Then there was the
time he was on his way home when a large black figure appeared in front
of him blocking his path.
Then there was the strange noises coming from the abandoned house, and lights going on and off it was enough to stop you in your tracks.
Around the country
side there was a number of old fairy forts, they were no more than a large
clump of trees and from one you could see two or three more on the hills
nearby, no one ever cut these trees and they were places to stay away
from at night, why take a chance.
When my bedtime came after all these stories I was scared, we had no indoor plumbing and a trip outside was terrifying, there were no lights in the bedroom so a fast trip under the covers was a must.
The years went by fast and I was out rambling myself I did not forget the old stories,the fields and the ditches and hedges all looked spooky at night.
Coming home from Rynn’s
store at night, going up the old lane past Loughlins house and on to Mary
Healy’s meadow, then over the stile to Mc Grails land there was
a old deserted house there, no windows or doors and no roof, I had to
walk right near the wall, I would not dare look in the door you never
know what would jump out at you, I always was taught making noise would
help so I would whistle, I think if someone jumped out of the bushes at
me I would faint.
If I came home the
long way up the road to Conners lane that was a little spooky, I would
whistle and the heavy shoes I wore with the nails in the soles made a
great racket I always felt safer when I saw the lights in John Gilmartins
It is just a story,
but if you find yourself walking in one of these places, it could not
hurt to pucker your lips. If this does not work just remember the question.
My little story is not about the Tinkers of today. I am not sure if there are any Tinkers left in Ireland. The ones that I am talking about are the old time Tinkers of the late thirties and forties.
They came every so often to Ballinaglera and the road that I remember them on is the Slievenakilla Rd. Just off the Dowra to Drumshambo cut off.
There are a few reasons
why they picked this spot to camp on, first it was close to the stores
Rynn’s and Mulveys, second there is a wide grassy area from the
road to the shough, (you know what the shough is) this wide grassy area
gave them enough room to pitch their tents without blocking the road.
There is a little rhyme about tinkers – it goes:
If ifs and ands
The Corn Crake is a large bird about the size of a pigeon, it is a ground bird that makes its home in the meadows or tall grass and is rarely seen They can run very fast, they are a speckled brown in color and blend in with their surroundings.
You can hear their loud call in the late evening or early morning it can be heard for a long distance.
They make a call that sounds like CRAKE CRAKE it’s a rasping call and loud.
Today they are on the endangered specious list, if one was in you meadow it would be a violation to cut the hay in that field.
are that they are making a slow recovery.
you take the straddle and mats and the pordoges off the old ass
do you think he is thinking ???
you are not old Irish, Asses and Pordoges will give you something to think
The meadow lark is a small bird with a lovely singing voice
It makes its home in the fields and its nest in the tall grass in the meadows.
When it starts singing it flies straight up in the air and it can go almost out of sight before it stops ,it does not sing on its return flight.
than the humming bird it is the only one that can go straight up by just
flapping its wings.
The wren is a small bird, growing up as a boy I watched them make their Nests in the eaves of the thatched roof of our house.
The thatched roof extends over the walls of the house and it is thick with Many layers of thatch that were added over the years.
It is a safe place for the wren to make his nest, they scratch out a hole in the dry thatch just above the walls that leaves a large overhang to protect the entrance from the weather.
The front of the nest they close in with moss or dry grass and they leave a Small round hole for their entrance
From what I could see they always had a large family , so they were busy Coming and going all day to feed them.
As the young ones got bigger you could see their little heads looking out.
Then on day,all was quiet the family was raised and on their own.
will be back.
Order "Just The Way It Was" On-line from Publisher
Also availabe on-line from
Amazon.com and Amazon.uk.com
International Phone Orders