Joe Kenneally

Interview by Frances Madigan on January 22, 2014

Gender: Male

Birth date: 1921

Area: North Clare

Parish: Kilshanny - Knocknaskeagh

Report date: December 17, 2015

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Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:06:50 THE RUNAWAY BOG INCIDENT - Joe and Mary date the Carhuduff Runaway Bog Incident to the 11th November 1901. That was the night of a big flood. It happened in Mary's home area - Carhuduff, Liscannor. An English company, Watson Stone Company, opened a quarry in Doonagore. It was supposed to be the best quarry in Europe. The quarry came in a long way from Doonagore. The blasting caused the water to get in under the bog down to the flags. The night of the Big Flood the water lifted the bog. Mónadáns, small, green, bitter berries grew in the area where the bog ran from. The bog ran down and it lifted a great big rick of hay that hit and split the gable of a house near where Mary was born. Mary remembers a lovely painting on the wall of the bedroom of that house. The house was Michael (Peata) Killoughrey's, a first cousin of Mary's grandfather, Johnny Foley. Her grandfather bought it after the Killoughreys moved. The bog covered a lot of the flat land and went on and blocked the eye of the bridge. It went along nearly 2 miles to Tullamore. It came along Joe's place. Joe lifted bog deal from his land which had come down with the Runaway Bog.
0:06:51 - 0:12:00 The Killoughrey's bought a farm in Kilmihil. The woman of the house was expecting. They know Michael O'Dea, a grandson of that baby. The bog lifted the rick of hay and put it in a haggard that was tilled and was 5 ft higher than where it was. There were cows and a horse in a cabin. They knocked a wall where there was a rise of ground on the northern side to let the animals out. Denis McMahon put down doors from the cow cabins on the soil to step out to get to the cows. They put a rope around him He put a rope on the cow's horns and rescued two cows. The priest in Kilshanny heard of it and came to say prayers on the high ground and Denis went out again on the doors and got the third cow in. The power of the priest they said. They heard that story from Denis McMahon himself. They were often with him on ragairne/cuairt/ cuaird. Michael O'Dea has come to visit Joe and Mary.
0:12:00 - 0:15:59 The people of the house were salting a pig. It was nearly 11 o'clock at night. The man of the house said 'the bog is down'. They got the children out a window in the eastern room where there was a rise of ground. They brought them to Denis McMahon's house. There was another man there and they had to keep him in. No one was killed. There was a big fall of ground down to the house. Denis McMahon was great for telling stories. Joe heard that there was a collection made out in America for the family. They needed it because they were poor people.
0:16:00 - 0:17:00 One man had a black garden near the river and it was destroyed. He cut four barrs of turf in it afterwards. That will tell you the height of it.
0:17:00 - 0:17:49 Joe tells a story of a previous runaway bog incident. There was a Carkill woman and her daughter in an outhouse in Luogh making a churn. The runaway bog hit the cabin and killed them. That was in 1900. It came from the other side of Doonagore quarry. It went off to the sea.
0:17:50 - 0: 21:00 THE NIGHT OF THE BIG WIND 6TH JANUARY 1939 - Joe recalls stories he heard about that night. The evening before was a very calm. They said that it was so mild that you could hear people talking from a house a mile away. The wind rose to terrible wind about 10 or 11 o'clock that night. They had bad hovels of houses. The wind burst in the doors and blew up the fires and raised the roofs. The dread of that was in the old people after that on a calm evening. They threw cow dung up on the thatch to keep the roofs on.
File 2 0:00:00 - 0:01:17 Joe recites 2 verses of poem about the burning of Eóinín Nestor's house in Ennistymon as a reprisal for the Rineen Ambush. Joe says he only knows those verses.
File 3 0:00:00 - 0:08:00 SEASONAL CUSTOMS/THE CALENDAR YEAR ST. BRIGID'S DAY - St. Brigid was venerated on several days during the year. Joe talks about the 14th night of August. He always went to The Well that night. There would be music and dancing there. The people from Arann came out to The Well for the night. They were dressed in their traditional clothes. They stayed dancing all night until it was time to walk over to the fair in Kilfenora the next day to buy lambs. They brought the lambs out to Arann in the canoes. Joe relates a story of a cure on the Eve of St Brigid's Day. Neighbours brought their little boy who couldn't walk to The Well on an ass and cart. The boy was five or six years old. They stayed there all night. The boy was walking within the week. He's still alive and living in Lisdoonvarna. Joe tells a funny story about a man's description of the people doing rounds at wells. Once Joe saw a little eel in the well on the 15th of August. He was there with some neighbours. The well was low and he saw the eel. He had never seen an eel like it. It wasn't like the eel from the river. Everyone who was there that day saw it. Joe tells of the belief that your wish would be granted if you saw the eel. Mrs Burke, an old woman, would sit on a chair near the well. She would give you a glass of the well water and you could give her something (money) in return. He saw lots of crutches hanging up there. It was said that people who were cured left their crutches there. Joe relates other customs observed on May Eve to bring in the Summer and to bring good luck to the animals. A branch of whitethorn was hung over the door. He remembers shaking Holy Water on the stalks in the garden some night in June. A neighbouring woman used to light a furze bush and followed the cows around the field. A simple St Brigid's Cross was made with two sticks and nailed on the rafters. A new cross would be put up every year and you could tell the age of the house by counting the crosses. A cow's leg (bone) was put up on the rafters in the cabins to protect the cows from evil. SHROVE TUESDAY/CHALK SUNDAY / LENT - Single people were chalked on Chalk Sunday if they hadn't got married before Lent. Generally that time people got a new suit of clothes by the 1st April and they would hate to be raddled (chalked). They would have pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. The old people had great faith. The Rosary was said before they went out on ragairne/cuairt/ cuaird. Every morning Joe's father would check if they had said their morning prayers. If they hadn't they had to go down on their knees and say their prayers.
0:12:14 - 0:17:16 ST. PATRICK'S DAY - St. Patrick's Day was a big market day in Ennistymon - Everyone would try to have something to sell for 'margadh mór' (the big market) in Ennistymon to have a bit of cosh (money) for the day. Joe relates a story of a tinker woman who was drunk on a St Patrick's Day. She said “Oh Holy St Patrick see how we are suffering from you”. Shamrock was worn in a button hole on the frock (coat). Joe then talks of the 'spailpíns'. Anyone looking for work would walk it down to Limerick and stand on the footpath to be hired. They would hang the tools of their trade such as a reaping hook or a scythe sharpening board off the button hole. The farmer would then walk along and select a worker. That happened before Joe's time. The old people wore the shamrock on their hats. They used to send shamrock to America where the people were proud to get even if it was withered when it arrived. It was something Irish anyway.
0:17:16 - 0:22:07 EMIGRATION - Joe tells of family members who emigrated from home. They send back money to bring out the next one at home. They never forgot the home and they all came home often with the exception of one brother who died young. Some of his family emigrated in 1929 the year of the Wall Street Crash. Joe relates a poignant story about the emigration of some family members. His mother brought Joe and other siblings to the Cliffs of Moher to see the Scythia, the ship they had boarded in Cobh, as it passed on the way to Galway. All they saw was a glimpse at it passed the Aran Islands but it did his mother good to see it.
0: 22:07 - 0:34:19 JOE' SONGS/ EASTER - Joe sings a song about emigration. Joe says that the first sounds he ever heard were music and singing. He learned that song at home from an aunt. His grandmother was a Lynch from Kilfenora. She was a great singer. They used to have sessions in the house. His sister May who was born in 1904 wrote the words of many songs in a copybook and brought it to America. Another sister Peig brought it home to him. He says that songs are no good if they are not sung properly. They can be destroyed by putting wrong airs to them. Joe names his siblings who went to America and those who stayed at home. He was the youngest in the family and he knew he'd break his father's heart if he emigrated. He eloped with Mary but he told his father beforehand. He relates the various places they lived and the various kinds of work he could do including building and thatching. At the time of the interview they were happily married for 66 years. He wishes he could be with her for 66 more years. He describes Mary as “the greatest person you could live with”. Joe then talks about Easter and eating Easter eggs. They would have a feast of eggs. They went on ragairne nearly every night regardless of the weather even during Lent. They also travelled long distances to house dances.
0:34:19- 0:36:19 MAY DAY - Joe talks about some superstitions associated with May Day. You wouldn't go into a house if they were making a churn or to get a coal to light a fag on May Day. Some people would be afraid that you would bring the butter from them. If the butter went you could redden the sock of a plough in the fire and put it in the butter to bring the butter back and to clear the demons. He says Murrough and Derrymore were awful places for pisreogs. He remembers being in a house and he was swinging the crane. He was told he was washing the devil's shirt.
0:36:19 - 0:37:56 ST. JOHN'S NIGHT /ST. SWITHIN'S DAY - Bonefires were lit on a high hill on St. John's Night. You would see them in the same places every year. They could see the bonfires over in Moy. They would bring out a few sods of turf and cipins and light them. Later on they used tyres down in Moymore. The weather on St. Swithin's Day foretold the weather to come. This was important during the haymaking season. If it came dry on St. Swithin's Day you'd have dry weather for the next 40 days and if it rained you'd have wet weather for 40 days. If it came wet you'd be disappointed.
0:37:56 - 0:40:04 Garland Sunday Joe relates his memories of Garland Sunday in Lahinch. Everyone would meet up that day. It was an outing for young lads. They had no money to go anyplace. He might get sixpence going that day if he was lucky. People would travel by train from Limerick and from Ennis. He lists some of the stalls as having the Wheel of Fortune, Jack 'n the Box and Card Games. By evening the people would be drunk and then they began dancing. He says “the auld women would be liftin' up their skirt a piece of the ways, you know. Oh, they'd be drunk from a couple of bottles I'd say”. Races were held on the strand. Joe remembers seeing John Nagle riding a horse there. John is still alive and he lives in Kilshanny. He recalls Jack O'Brien riding a horse there when he was an old man. There were races in Miltown also.
File 4 0:00:04 - 0:04:05
0:04:05 - 0:05:31
0:05:31 - 0:06:26

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