May Tuohy

Interview by Anne O'Brien on October 29, 2009

Gender: Female

Birth date: 1917

Area: East Clare - Tulla

Report date: September 21, 2015

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Time Description
0:00:00 - 0:12:20 O'CALLAGHAN ESTATE - Spoke about her parents who met at Colonel O' Callaghan's estate in Tulla. Both her parents worked at the estate. 11 kids. Father was a foreman who was responsible for tilling the land and looking after machinery. The landlords were the main employer. Council only provided seasonal work. Elaborates on father's work…hay, cattle etc. and the landlords. Both her uncles met their wives in the estate, cooks. They grew floury potatoes, cabbage, parsnips…all organic. 1-2 cows, 3-4 'bonabhs' for meat all year round. Put into a barrel of salt. Also had hens, chickens, geese, turkeys and eggs. An O'Callaghan married into the Falls Hotel. 2 of the O' Callaghan's (English) became Catholics. They had gifts for the children at Christmas and St Patrick's Day. They went to the estate with the Wren on St Stephen's Day. Other landlords were in Ballynahinch and Kilgory.
0:12:21 - 0:15:04 CHRISTMAS DAY - All family would come home for Christmas. Sister in a bar in Roscrea, sisters worked as cook and nurses in London as no work in Ireland. Present of a watch, a jack in the box, tin whistle etc. No alcohol.
0:15:05 - 0:23:25 DRESSMAKING IN TULLA - May trained as a dress maker with a lady, who came home from America. She was 15-16 years old. No secondary school. Took 4 years. She could 'turn the heel of a sock' at school. An uncle was a carpenter, very skilled, he carved wood. May made frocks, skirts, coats, suits from patterns she had in a book. Later people brought their own. She and her sister got a house in Tulla from the Council and she elaborates on this.
0:23:26 - 0:28:00 SHOP IN ENNIS / LIMERICK - 6 kids went to London. The eldest didn't know the younger kids as the older kids left to go to work. Half day on a Wednesday so hired a car to go to Ennis to the Cash Co. - it's Cassidy's Chemist now. Sold everything, fabric, curtains etc. Also Morans on O' Connell St. If you went to Limerick, you took a full day off and went on the bus… Roches, Todds, Woolworths.
0:28:01 - 0:30:20 DANCES - Dancing at cross roads to dance. Dancing at Lisofin cross every Sunday evening. St John's night was a big dance night. Her father played the concertina. He learnt new tunes by ear. People used to dance a set in her house. Her nephew was the piper Martin Rochford.
0:30:20 - 0:36:45 ENTERTAINMENT - No electricity or street lights. Speaks of paraffin lamps. Candles. No shops open on Bank Holidays. On Sundays, May would follow the hurling. Also go to dance halls in Quin, Scarrif, Tuamgraney by bicycle. Start at 9 until 2-3am, then cycle home again, have breakfast then go to work. They had bands like Jack Madigan from Ennistymon, waltzs, foxtrots. Patrick's night was céilí night. Dressed in blouses and skirts. They'd meet again the next night to chat about the dance and who danced with who.
0:36:45 - 0:40:35 SCHOOL - School in Fortane. Teacher was very hard. Reading, writing, Irish. The children were very nervous. Neighbours were very good. You'd get a cup of tea on the way to school from them.
0:40:36 - 0:48:00 FARMING - O' Callaghan sold land to Land Commission. The workers got the land when it was divided. As a result her father got a farm. Her father was able to work the land, a lot of people weren't. Meitheal for making hay, digging spuds, thrashing etc. Potatoes were stored in pits. Describes this process. Also sprouting for the seed in spring. They got turf from the bog behind their house. Mention creel of turf and the donkey and cart.
0:48:01 - 0:55:29 WWII COUPONS; DANCES; MAY EVE - Talks about coupons during the war. For clothes, food, flour, etc. Also relied on the black market! Talks about the dances again. Also sprinkling holy water on May Eve on home, family, cows etc.
File 2 0:00:00 - 0:03:00 O' CALLAGHAN'S MILLS ESTATE - Talking about the gatehouse. Buried treasure at the main house.
0:03:01 - 0:06:00 BLACK & TANS - The 'Tans' ransacked their house. They used to threaten the workers. She remembers a shop near the entrance of the estate called Noonan's where they went for candles and the children thought they were going to be shot by the Tans. There was a barracks in Tulla.
0:06:01 - 0:09:00 THE FAIR IN TULLA - What they sold etc. Spoke about the drivers turning cattle.
0:09:01 - 0:12:00 EMIGRATION - Cousins going to America never to return from Queenstown in Cork. Referred to 'the night of the big wind' briefly.

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