Mary Meaney

Interview by Jackie Elger on March 3, 2011

Gender: Female

Birth date: 1934

Area: West Clare - Ballynacally

Report date: June 1, 2012

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Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:04:03 FAMILY - Mary was born on the 23rd August 1934. Her parents, Edward & Mary Ann O'Hehir ran the post office in Ballynacally. Mary says the post office was in their family for 95 years until it closed last year. Her grandfather Jim O'Hehir worked there first. Mary's maternal grandmother, Fanny Clancy (nee Hennessy) came from Glencanane, Kildysart. She was connected to the Hennessys at Fanny O'Dea's pub. Mary's grandfather was Jim Clancy. She speaks of her uncle and aunt, John & Jenny Clancy, (nee Keating), Lacknasannagh. She mentions that Jenny won prizes at the Kildysart Horse Show for embroidery and cakes. Mary says she had 3 sisters and 3 brothers. She is one of a twin, Frances, (Fanny).
0:04:04 - 0:09:37 CONEY ISLAND - Mary married Michael Meaney from Coney Island and lived on the island for 9 years. She recalls that the island people would come to her parent's shop. She says Michael was a half twin too, (his twin was Tom Meaney). She says Michael's father was originally from Ballycorick and a relative left him the land on Coney Island. She says her mother was Margaret Callinan, form Clochá Samhán, near Kilbaha. She thinks she worked as a house maid in Ballycorick. She speaks of her husband's youngest brother, Jack Meaney who was a singer and musician and had his own band in England. Mary says they lived with Michael's parents on the island.
File 2 0:00:00 - 0:07:33 CONEY ISLAND - SCHOOL - Mary speaks about their cottage on Coney Island. She says that when it was time for the priest to come to the island for the missions there was a lot of decorating of the houses. She had 4 of her children on the island. They brought the children to the mainland for school as the island school had closed at that time. She says they bought a site on the mainland and her and her husband built a house by themselves. She speaks of the school on the island. She mentions that at one time the island people brought children over from the mainland to the school to try to keep it open. She names Alice O'Shaughnessy and Maire MacNamara as teachers there. She says Michael's teacher was Miss Crowe from Clonlara and that at one time a Mrs Guinnane also taught on the island. Mary describes the inside of the house. She says they had no electricity so they used tilly lamps and a paraffin oil cooker.
0:07:34 - 0:11:59 CONEY ISLAND - AGRICULTURE - Mary says that the island people made beautiful butter. She describes how they made it. She talks about how they grew sugar beet and how they transported it to the mainland. She speaks of the lighters (boats). She says the island people were great to make things.
0:11:60 - 0:21:13 CONEY ISLAND - Mary speaks of the islanders coming out to mass in boats and recalls an occasion where she was in a boat that was caught in a storm and blown as far as Newmarket-on-Fergus. She recalls when youngest child at the time, Noel, was very ill and Dr McGrath (Kildysart) travelled over to the island to him every day for 12 days. Mary says she came out from the island to give birth to her children, in Cahercalla Hospital. When she moved into the island there were 16 people including herself living there. She mentions the graveyard on the east of the island. She says all the family moved to the mainland in 1968. She recalls a house fire on the island around that time where a mother and son, (Mary & Jimmy Guinnane) died.
0:21:14 - 0:29:58 CONEY ISLAND - CUSTOMS / SOCIAL LIFE - Mary recalls Christmas on the island. She says that in the past there were more people on the island and they were more social. She mentions some of the surnames from Deer Island. She describes the layout of the houses on Coney. She mentions one family who got a farm from the land commission on the mainland. She says she and Michael were offered to exchange farms with a family (Bakers) from Crusheen. She speaks of Chrissie Guinnane's funeral on the island. She says she didn't have much contact with the people on the other islands. She speaks of the candles that were lit at Christmas time.
File 3 0:00:00 - 0:15:28 SCHOOL - Mary talks about her schooldays in Ballynacally National School. She says the teachers at the school were the Cunninghams who were husband and wife. Mary feels she had a hard time at school with her teachers. She says the couple were eventually sacked by the bishop when her generation became parents and complained about them. She speaks of a time when her mother stood up to the principal at a confirmation.
0:15:29 - 0:24:03 SOCIAL LIFE - After leaving school Mary worked at the Cash Co. in Ennis, selling clothes. She says she cycled from Ballynacally to Ennis everyday. She recalls herself and Fanny acting in local plays. She says they were also in a singing and dancing group called the Hillbillies. She says they would walk to Kildysart to the cinema and the Victory Ballroom. She recalls that Pat Gavin had a mini-bus and charged a shilling. Mary says she and her husband were Pioneers and she speaks of the meetings and retreats.
File 4 0:00:00 - 0:15:28 BALLYNACALLY VILLAGE - Mary tells a funny story about a local concertina player Annie Fawl. She names the pubs in the village. She speaks about the changes in the village. She says 50 years ago they won the Tidy Towns. She describes some of the shops that were in Ballynacally. She says a lot of matches were made in Heuson's Dance Hall. She speaks of some of the musicians in the Dangan Castle Céilí Band.

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