Mary & Sisty (Annie) Murphy

Interview by Jackie Elger on April 15, 2014

Gender: Female

Area: West Clare - Ballynacally

Report date: November 17, 2015

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Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:09:20 BACKGROUND/FAMILY - Mary & Sisty come from Coolsipeen, Ballynacally. Mary was born on 30th March 1926 and Sisty was born on the 06th June 1927. Their parents were Peter & Annie Murphy. Their father was born in the house they lived in. Mary thinks the name Coolsipeen has something to do with hay. Mary describes the house they lived in. Sisty says they had an outdoor toilet. Mary remembers their grandfathers. She thinks they both died around 1940. Their mother's maiden name was King. Mary remembers her step-grandmother. She died in 1953. She had returned from America. She says she was a cook for a family. She was Keane from Lacknashannagh, Kildysart. They speak of a relation to Seán Keane the fiddler with the Chieftains and the relationship with the Larkins from Lacknashannagh and the Keanes. Mary says in those days you never called a woman by their first name. They think that Joe Larkin, (Jackie's great uncle) was first cousin to Baby Keane, (Margaret Murphy's mother). Mary remembers Seán Keane and his brother James coming to Ballynacally on holidays.
0:09:21 - 0:14:16 WREN DANCES/STRAWBOYS/BACCOCKS - Mary says they would have gone to dances. She speaks of wren dances. They recall local men collecting for a priest, Fr Kelly out on the missions in Kenya. Mary recalls dancing with a strawboy. He knew who it was by his watch. They had 'aghaidh fidils' on their faces. They would come to the house when the couple came back from honeymoon.
0:14:17 - 0:25:02 ST JOHN'S EVE/ST JOHN'S WELL, NEWHALL - Mary & Sisty remember them setting fire to furze and having bonfires on St John's Eve. Sisty says they would visit the St John's blessed well in Newhall, Ballyea on the 24th June. They said they would look forward to the day out to the well. A lady would come out from Ennis and set up a stall selling things like apples, oranges & minerals. They describe how they did the rounds. They would go barefoot on their knees to the well. When the rounds were done they would go down to the lake and wash their feet. They would drink the water from the well. They say the well was a place for cures if you had the faith. They speak of how a boy called Jimmy, (Tomas Murtaghs' son), from The Terrace in Crovraghan had a bad leg cured at St Brickan's well in Crovraghan, Kildysart. Sisty saw the crutches left at the well. This happened about 60 years ago.
0:25:03 - 0:27:53 FERGUS ESTUARY SHORE - Jackie and Eleanor discuss access to the Fergus Estuary shore
0:27:54 - 0:39:17 SCHOOL - Mary & Sisty went to Lack School, 'Radharc na nOileán'. They speak of Jackie's grandmother, Mary Larkin. Mary thinks there were 20 in the class. They would walk two miles to school. There would be a fire lighting in the school. Their father would bring a cart of turf at the start of the year. The pupils would have to bring the turf up from the road to the porch using back-pans. Michael Coughlan was one of their teachers and a woman called Mrs Conway from Kildysart taught the juniors and Mrs Hehir came after her. A bus then came and brought the children to Ballynacally school and the school closed. Mary said they were good teachers if you were willing to learn. The teacher had two foot long sticks. Mary tells a humorous story about a boy sent out to pick the sticks. They speak of what would have to be learnt for confirmation. They both left school at 14.
0:39:18 - 0:44:08 EVERYDAY LIFE - They speak about the work at home. Mary liked to bake. They made their own bread. Sisty smoked Players cigarettes. Their father smoked a pipe. The tobacco was called Garryowen and Mary's describes how it was bought in the ship. They often shopped at Johnny Mac's in Kildysart, (where the butchers shop is now). They talk about Connelly's shop in Kildysart. Mary said people were very united and helped each other.
0:44:09 - 0:53:01 WAKES/BANSHEE - Mary says she remembers a wake in 1940. She remembers a barrel of porter being brought and the men would get a glass. The man who'd bring the porter would 'tap' it. Mary tells a story about a banshee. Sisty says lights would also be associated with certain families. Mary then tells a story about her grandfather and another man carrying the corn to a grinding mill in Tullycrine, very early in the morning. They were going through the village of Cranny when they saw what they believed to be the Cóiste Bodhar coming out of a house. Mary believes there were 'things' there years ago. Their mother died young. Mary speaks briefly of pisreogs. She says people interfered with butter-making but they never heard of anything happening like that.
0:53:02 - 0:54:43 BIDDY EARLY - Mary says Biddy Early did a lot of good. She had heard of a man going to her for a cure for a valuable horse. She gave him a bottle of water and said that his horse would be alright if he was able to bring that bottle of water over a bridge and she named the bridge. The horse stumbled on the bridge and the bottle fell out and the horse died.
0:54:44 - 1:02:38 DOCTORS - Mary says the doctor in Kildysart/Ballynacally was Dr Crowley. They then speak about Dr McGrath. Sisty says he would go into the islands. Mary says he was born in Carrigaholt. Mary remembers a one man saying that the doctors were out of university and didn't understand the country people. She speaks of a woman coming in from Knock in Mayo saying her father was a guard in Kildysart. Eleanor speaks of her father being a guard in Lissycasy.

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