Jack Flanagan

INTERVIEW by Frances Madigan on March 07, 2011
 
Interviewee
Jack Flanagan  
Gender
Male  
Birth Date
06/06/21  
Home County
Clare  
Area-Townland
West Clare - Dough  
Parish-Townland
Kilmacrehy - Dough  
Family
Two daughters  
Occupation
Factory worker (Kodak, England), Carpenter/Builder  
Report Date
December 20, 2011  
Period Covered
Jack spends the length of the interview talking about seasonal customs and local traditions  
Length of Interview
47mins 58secs  
Thematic Areas Covered
Seasonal customs, School, Local traditions,
Description
The focus of this interview is seasonal customs  
 
 
Time
Description
0:00:00 - 0:11:55 
CHRISTMAS - Jack talks about ‘buying the Christmas’. The Christmas candles were very important. They were either pound candles or half pound candles. Some of these would have been coloured red. The candle was put in jam pot full of sand because there were too big when put on a candle stick. On Christmas Eve either the youngest or the oldest would light the first candle. The other two candles were lit on Christmas day and Stephens Day. New Year’s Day was another Church holy day and candles were lit for three nights. The next time they were lit for three nights was on the 6th January which was known as the ‘twelfth day’ At that time there was no evening mass. The first mass in Kilfenora was at seven in the morning and Jack goes to talk about going to church at this time of the year. He remembers the Choir at that time which was very good. A woman by the name of Mrs Conole trained the Choir. The Choir Gallery was above the main door. After mass a few chores would be done and then Christmas dinner was eaten, which was Goose. Jack carries on talking about more of the food that was ate for Christmas dinner. His favourite was the sweat loaf which was made on the lasaid (a wooden container). Jack remembers calling over to his neighbours who had a Christmas crib with statues up to 2 feet tall.  
0:11:55 - 0:12:51 
MUMMERS - When Jack was younger he went out with the mummers. He remembers going to a mummers’ dance in the 30’s. Someone in the parish would always provide a house to hold the dance. There was never any cover charge at these dances and tea and cake would be provided.  
0:12:51 - 16:32 
ST. BRIGIDS DAY - Jack’s mother always kept one of the Christmas candles for St. Brigid’s Day. Her sister was married to Stephen Conway only a 100 yards away from St. Brigid’s Well. So, when she visited her sister she would also visit the well. Jack talks about making wooden crosses on this day and relates the story of St. Brigid making a cross with rushes. Jack’s parents would go to visit St. Brigid’s Well on this day and also on the 15th August.  
0:16:32 - 0:18:44 
CHALK SUNDAY AND SHROVE TUESDAY - Jack talks about chalk Sunday which was when unmarried men were marked with chalk. Jack heard about pancakes been ate on shrove Tuesday but he can’t remember anything like that happening. Fasting on Ash Wednesday was very important while he was growing up. Children would often give up sweets. They would then start putting some away to have on Easter Sunday.  
0:18:44 - 0:21:02 
ST. PATRICKS DAY - People were allowed to break their fast on St. Patrick’s day. All the men wore shamrocks on this day and the kids wore ribbons. There were never any local parades but there were some local amateur plays in the area. It was a very strong holiday. Jack talks about picking shamrocks. He had to pick a lot of these because his grandmother would always send some over to Boston.  
0:21:02 - 0:23:32 
EASTER SUNDAY AND GOOD FRIDAY - Jack talks about his mother seeing the sun dancing on Easter Sunday which was believed to happen on this morning. Jack did get small Easter Eggs at this time of year. People would always go to church on Good Friday where the stations of the cross were performed.  
0:23:32 - 0:26:15 
MAY DAY - People were always very suspicious about May Day and Milk. Normally people that were working in the bog might call to the house for ‘a coal of fire’. This would never happen on May day as it was considered bad luck. Jack can’t remember the May bush but he can remember bon fires on this night. Some people would take a burning bush from the fire and it would be shook over their land as it was believed to be lucky.  
0:26:15 - 0:28:35 
SCHOOL HOLIDAYS - Here Francis asks about the Easter water and what it was used for. Jack says that they would bring it home and it would be sprinkled in the gardens. At that time students only had Easter, Christmas, and mid summer holidays. Jack says that whenever there was a Fair on they didn’t have any school. This would add up to an extra week of holidays a year. Jack talks about people coming on to the mainland from the Aran Islands. He remembers what they wore and how they spoke Irish.  
0:28:35 - 0:35:09 
FAIRS - When Jack turned 13 or 14 he would be brought to the Fairs with his father. They would leave at three or four in the morning with horse and cart. If someone did good business at the Fair they would hire a car. You would always hear them due to the beeping which was necessary because of the extremely bending roads at the time. Jack relates about how the deal was made. When the deal was made they would seal it with a good slap of each others hands. Jack talks about the stalls in the Ennistymon Fair that would have been full of tools and clothes. He can’t remember these ever been present in the Kilfenora Fair. At the end of the Fair a few musicians would always come along and play. Jack remembers Johnny Dolan [sic] (this is possibly Johnny Doran), the piper from Wicklow, coming to Kilfenora. Occasionally, the Fairs would also end with a few fights.  
0:35:09 - 0:37:39 
ST. SWITHIN'S DAY AND READING THE WEATHER - Jack talks about St. Swithin’s day which occurred in July. Everyone was very conscious of the weather on this day. Everyone waited to see if it rained on this day or not. The weather in July and August was very important because of ‘saving the hay’. People had to predict the weather themselves while Jack was growing up. If it rained on St. Swithin’s day it was an old belief that it would then rain for the following forty days. Jack talks about the November moon and how it was used to read the weather.  
0:37:39 - 0:44:27 
ST. JOHNS EVE - Everybody had a bonfire on St. John’s Eve. In some place’s the community came together to make one big bonfire. St. Augustine’s day was celebrated on the 28th August and every one would try to have the hay saved up by this point. St. Augustine was the Patron Saint of Kilshanny. There is a well named after him here. There used to be races held in Kilshanny on this day. The races were stopped by the priests when a woman was killed at them. They said that everyone would go to church on this day instead. It was to be treated as a holy day so no work was to be done. In the late 30’s a committee got the races revived. On the first year a horse fell and broke its leg so it had to be put down. The following year the same happened to two horses. The following year the races had to be postponed due the state of the racecourse. The year after this a concrete bridge broke throwing 7 or 8 people into the river. One woman ended up breaking her two legs so there were no more races after this. The races were held in the field south of Kilshanny House.  
0:44:27 - 0:46:29 
ST. MARTINS DAY AND SNAP APPLE NIGHT - St. Martins Day took place in September [sic] (actually occurred on November 11th) It was honoured by killing a cock with the blood being sprinkled outside the door. Snap Apple Night was an evening of games with one involving nuts being roasted on the hearth. Jack talks about this game briefly.  
0:46:29 - 0:47:58 
ALL SOULS DAY - Jack doesn’t remember there being as much talk of visiting graveyards as there is today on ‘All Souls Day’. Note: Interview concludes  

National Development PlanLEADERThe European Agricultural Fund for Rural DevelopmentClare Local Development CompanyDepartment of the Environment Community and Local Government