Wednesday 27 August 2014

Men of the island

"There was a hat which was left on some kind of post or other. At the time, the men of Achill would have worn a cap, but when going into town … he would put on this formal hat and then leave it again when he returned"

"Paul Henry, who visited the island in 1912, said that 'the habitations of the islanders are very singular. Their houses were of rude stones rounded by the tide, procured from the beach, un-cemented.'"

"They are rounded at the gables and roofed with fern, heath and shingles, fastened with straw bands. In the village of Dua, consisting of about 40 cabins, there is not a single chimney. Some of the wealthier graziers, however, have an odd custom of residing in such houses, or in houses of a still more simple construction, only in the summer months, when the season for fishing is on, and their cattle are brought down to the coast to feed on the young herbage. These hovels they call Booley houses."

"At one point Henry reported watching a race of two men around the island, for the right to be the first to ask a certain woman to marry them, 'which was by no means uncommon.'"

-- From interviews on the Radio Telefis Eireann documentary "Leave Your Hat at the Sound," broadcast 1974. Photo of the men of Aran island, courtesy of 

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