Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Farm work

"My father was one man and ten men. He was the local vet here. He was the butcher. He was a storyteller. He was a farmer. And everything that was to be done in the village, he was involved in it. And he was the slaughterman.

There were many here who killed pigs, but my father was the best – every time he stuck a pig, the heart rent in two halves when you opened it. Then he’d go to Scotland in June, do the little bit of the harvest we had to do. Come home at Christmas with a few pounds. He might buy a few cows or pigs and sell them again in March for the price of going over again to Scotland. I began going there myself, to help with the harvest, when I was eleven. 

You got the boat on the north wall of Dublin – a boat full of cattle. Eighteen hours at sea, in a hold I cannot describe. When you got to Scotland the cattle were let off, and when the boat went to Clyde and we were let off, not much different than the cattle.

You had to keep a steady pace picking the potatoes; you put a 13-year-old out at this day and age at a 30-yards, you think they'd be able to?

At the end of the day, when you were done with the harvest, you had to make your own bed. I mean you actually built one – you got a tick, filled it with straw, and packed it between vegetable boxes."

- Remembrances of Irish growing up in the mid-20th century, as recorded in an interview by Radio Telefis Eireann documentary "Leaving Belmullet," 2005. Photo used with permission of Irish History Links

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