Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Days of the farmer child
"The first time they sent me off with a scythe, I was only half its height, and I was so proud --- I thought I was doing a great job. When children lined up for the village hiring fairs ... the farmer would ask whether he could plough and milk, and might refer to wet milking and dry milking. Some farmers felt the boys' muscles, and if they were like duck eggs they were in business, or would look at the boys' legs or hands to see if they were hairy.
The girls used to buy red tea bags for days off when everyone gathered for a dance, and kept it with them to dye their cheeks over and over, until they looked like the setting sun. They'd also leave a stick in the fire before they came, and rub the blackened stick on their eyebrows. Sometimes they did it before they left, and if it rained they looked like Indian war paint."
-- memories of elderly people interviewed for Radio Telefis Eireann in 1997, remembering their childhoods when they were hired to work on farms. Photo used with permission of Irishhistorian.com