Joe Tuohy

Interview by Tara Sparling on January 21, 2012

Gender: Male

Birth date: 1930

Area: East Clare

Report date: December 4, 2015

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Time Description
File 1 0:00:00- 0:02:30 JOE AS BABY - Joe was a "delicate baby" when he was born, and when he was two weeks old a neighbour told his mother he would die if he wasn't given goat's milk. After that he thrived and he credits his sense of humour to it. He doesn't think he has lived one day up to his 82 years without laughing.
0:02:31 - 0:12:10 WAR OF INDEPENDENCE - His father Tommo Tuohy was Commandant of the East Clare Brigade and is mentioned often in the book “Blood on the Banner”. Michael D. Higgins' uncles were in his regiment. Joe describes how his father and two uncles, Mick and Paddy, were marked men and had a close shave with the Black and Tans in Scariff. Tommo was also imprisoned many times and beaten badly by the Tans. A canon refused to baptise a baby in the family due to their military activities and was forced to at gunpoint. Later the baby in question requested a letter of freedom to get married and written upon it was "baptised under duress".
0:12:11 - 0:19:00 FAMILY - His mother's maiden name was also Tuohy. Range of Tuohy families around the Scariff/Feakle area and how nicknames such as "Boxer" came from local priest one Christmas. His memories of his grandparents, their houses, sleeping by the fire, growing the wheat and the thatch every year. He describes his grandfather Johnny as one of the tidiest farmers in Clare.
0:19:01 - 0:27:50 BIDDY EARLY - His grandfather told him many old yarns. He tells a few about Biddy Early, and how one of them ended up on a very early Late Late Show and subsequently on Australian TV after he told it to actor Joe Lynch one night in a pub.
0:27:51 - 0:36:45 CHILDHOOD/FARM/HOLY WELL - His extended family and relatives farming nearby. One of Joe's sisters died as a baby, another at the age of 25 of a burst appendix. They looked forward to going barefoot from 1st May every year. Working on the farm as a child. A local well with reputed cures.
0:36:46 - 0:42:20 COMMUNION - Primary school, getting his first suit for his Communion. His mother taught infants up to Communion. Tells a yarn about a Redemptorist priest going after a pupil who wasn't attending his retreat.
0:42:21 - 0:51:00 CONFIRMATION - Talks about being examined for confirmation. Joe went to Flannan's with the intention of becoming a priest in 1943. The war years there were tough, with food rations, and he developed several ingenious black market schemes for getting extra food.
0:51:01 - 1:01:00 SCHOOL PUNISHMENT - Discusses corporal punishment in school. Used Vaseline on his hands to deal with the stick. Got in trouble with the unpopular Dean of Discipline for getting a letter from a girl. Swallowed soap to fake appendicitis to get out of school but got his appendix removed in the process. Absconded once after a harsh punishment and walked to Scariff from Ennis but was sent back the next day by bicycle.
1:01:01 - 1:05:10 SPORT/ENTERTAINMENT - Slept in his grandfather's for a few nights once to qualify to play hurling for Feakle having played for Scariff minors the week before. Talks about going to dances in Scariff and the surrounding area, and going on the wren for miles.
1:05:11 - 1:09:50 CURES/MEITHEAL - Community and neighbourly spirit and help. Local cures for animals- ivy leaves for sore cattle eyes. Washing clothes in the stream. Killing the pig. His father went blind and Joe got special leave from Flannan's to come home and sow potatoes. Meitheal for thrashing and turf.
1:09:51-1:16:00 FOOD - Cooking in the iron oven on the fire. Diet during the week- eggs on Fridays, roast or "fresh" meat once a week, from October a goose every Sunday from their own farm. Annual family holidays spent in Lahinch.
1:16:01 - 1:21:06 ARMY - Pressurised by his family to go into the army although he did his best to fail the interview and entered the signal corps in.
1:21:07- 1:24:20 GUARD OF HONOUR/UNIVERSITY - 1948. Was in the guard of honour on the day Irish independence was declared. Left to join the McInerney building group which put him through university to study engineering.
1:24:21 - 1:27:50 UK/WORK - Left for England with Peggy and worked very happily in Abbey National for years until he left on principle when the personnel manager refused to employ any more Irish people. Returned to Ireland to a job with Barclays.
1:27:51 - 1:35:35 UNMARRIED COUPLE ON HOLIDAY - Talks about a holiday in Lahinch with Peggy before they were married and how hoteliers treated the unmarried couple.
1:27:51 - 1:35:35 WWII/LDF/LOCAL CHARACTER - Military manoeuvres and civil defence around East Clare during WWII; his father was put in control of the LDF and organised "dummy ambushes". He tells a couple of yarns he heard from Neville Horan, a regular visitor to his parents' house, who was renowned for telling them when he came on cuaird. A regular character in funny stories was the youngest daughter of a family, not too bright, left at home to help out.
1:35:36 - 1:47:06 CHRISTMAS/MISSIONS - Lighting a candle in every window in the house on Christmas Eve. Talks about Fr Paddy Boland, a friend of his father's, who emigrated to the US but got a vocation and was posted as a missionary to India where he worked with Mother Teresa and taught her how to drive. Talks about Fr Paddy's work in India.

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