Moira McCarthy

Interview by Jackie Elger, (Moira's daughter) on January 11, 2012

Gender: Female

Area: West Clare - Killadysert

Parish: Killadysert

Report date: January 4, 2016

Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:03:19 THE TERRACE/WORKHOUSE - Moira was born in Crovraghan, Kildysart in January 1937. Her family lived in a terrace of houses, known as 'The Workhouse' as a workhouse once stood on the site. Eventually it was became known as 'The Terrace'. She says some people lived on old parts of the workhouse before the terrace of houses was built. They used the bricks from the workhouse to build the houses. The houses were built in the 1930s. Moira's mum and dad got the house after getting married in 1936. They had been living in the same terrace of houses with her mother. They were council houses.
0:03:20 - 0:06:37 FAMILY - Her mother's name was Mary Murrihy and her father's name was Frank Larkin. He came from Lacknashannagh, Kildysart. Her father was a labourer on the roads for the County Council. He would not get a lot of money for wet days. He would cycle miles to work. In the evening in the summer time he planted his own garden and he saved turf in the bog. The bog he rented was in the Gortlass direction. He would do work for a farmer to pay for the rental of the bog. There were seven in Moira's family. She was the eldest.
0:06:38 - 0:10:44 SCHOOL - Moira went to school in Kildysart National School. She recalls two older girls walking her the mile to school. Her teacher was Miss Keating. The girls and the boys were taught separately. The other teacher for the girls was Miss Pender. The boys were taught by Mr & Mrs Griffin. Mrs Fitzgerald who was retired came in sometimes to cover for the teachers. Miss Pender was the principal. Her family had a draper shop in the village. Miss Keating was very strict teaching Irish. She came from Carrigaholt originally. They would be very strict on being late. Moira and her friend next door would often be late. She recalls doing Irish and English compositions. She speaks of what they would have to learn for confirmation
0:10:45 - 0:16:30 COMMUNION/CONFIRMATION - Moira recalls what she wore for her communion. Her maternal grandmother, Mam, (Molly), Murrihy, made her clothes. Her sister Theresa made her confirmation with her. They had a navy outfit for the examination day and a white dress for the confirmation day. She says the bishop came for the two days. She speaks of some of the punishments they would get in the school for not knowing things. They would have to learn paragraphs from the bible. The priest would also come and examine them on their catechism. She remembers priests called Fr Sexton and Fr Kelly.
0:16:31 - 0:19:05 GAMES AT SCHOOL - Moira says there were a lot of girls from The Terrace who would play together at school. She remembers playing hopscotch, marbles and running. She says there were a lot of big families and the classes were big. She says people would walk for miles to school.
0:19:06 - 0:26:38 LIFE IN THE TERRACE/WATER/SHOPPING Moira says people were in and out of each other's houses at The Terrace. She spent a lot of time at her grandmother's house. Her mother would do a lot of baking at her mother's house. They would cook over the fire. She describes their house. They had no running water for years and an outside toilet. They would get the water from wells and eventually there was a pump at the back but that wasn't nice to drink. They collected rainwater in barrels. Their nearest well was Kelly's well, about 15/20 minutes away. The cows would also drink out of this well. She would have to get shopping in Kildysart for people. She recalls playing outside until late at night. They would play 'shop' in the remains of the workhouse. There was a big gate at the main road and they would play in that. Each house had a lot of ground front and back and they also had a plot on what they called 'The Hill'. Her father let her uncles Joe & Paddy Larkin from Lacknashannagh grow vegetables on their plot. People kept chickens/ducks. Some people had donkeys and cars.
0:26:39- 0:32:28 MUSIC/CUAIRD/DANCING - Moira's grandmother's house was a music/rambling house. Her grandmother played the concertina. She says people would come on their cuaird to it. They would have house dances there. Her uncle Jack Murrihy played fiddle/concertina there too. Moira's mother was a great set-dancer and would go to dances in houses. She says before her father got married he used to play the accordion and would play in Micho Keane's in Lacknashannagh. She says he gave it up and she never remembers him playing it. Her uncle, Paddy Murrihy from Shanahea, also played fiddle. He was a postman for the Labasheeda area. The post office was near him in Shanahea. Marty Blake, her grandmother's brother, also played fiddle. She recalls Ellie Cusack and Jack playing together. Moira's brother, Tomas, played accordion.
0:32:29 - 0:36:34 PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS - Moira speaks of her paternal grandparents. Her grandmother was called Bridget. She was Keane from Lavalla, Ballynacally. She says she was a brother to the grandfather of Seán Keane of the Chieftains. Moira's grandfather's name was Michael Larkin. They both died when she was young. She says her grandmother wore old-fashioned shawls. She remembers people coming to her house when she was waked. They had a beautiful orchard and vegetables. They also had a bit of land on what was called corcass land at the bottom of Lacknashannagh. She thinks they might have got it from Bianconi. They had a couple of cows there which they milked.
0:36:35 - 0:38:00 CASEYS AND BIANCONI - Moira speaks of her grandparents' neighbours, the Caseys in Lacknashannagh. She says they worked for Bianconi. Jacky Casey drove for him and Bianconi built the house for them. Jacky's wife was Moloney from Derralea.
0:38:01 - 0:38:30 BUTTERMILK - She recalls her grandmother giving her glasses of buttermilk.
FILE 2 0:00:00 - 0:08:35 WAKES/PIPES/QUINNS IN DARRAGH - Moira speaks of wakes. She recalls a relation of her grandmother, Mrs Quinn from Darragh, Ballyea, smoking a pipe. She had three girls and a delicate son and she shared the pipe with him, even though he had chest problems. She says she looked very old, with shawls. Esther Quinn was the woman's daughter and she would bring Moira over for holidays. Esther married Morrissey and his family sold mackerel and were known as 'The Mackerel Morrisseys'. Moira recalls when Esther got married and the social they had in the house after. She describes the Quinn's house. They had a garret which Moira loved. They would boil a pot of potatoes every day and put them up on the table, skins and all, for everyone to help themselves. She recalls her younger sister Theresa coming with her once and they would be asked to sing “The Two Little Girls In Blue”. She recalls playing outside there with an old bicycle wheel. She remembers was a house shop, O'Mahoneys near them. Esther would cycle to Ennis. She would bring Moira from Kildysart on her bike.
0:08:36 - 0:13:52 GRANDMOTHER - Moira recalls being brought around in the summertime with her maternal grandmother. They would visit relatives in Shanahea and to her aunt Eily in Dangan, Quin. She says her grandmother would read a lot. Her sight was poor and she remembers her standing under an oil lamp, reading. Her grandmother came from the Lack area. Moira's mother went for a while to Lack School. Moira's great-grandmother was Mrs Blake in Moyfadda. Michael Fox and Pat Kiernan had hackney cars in Kildysart.
File 3 0:00:00 - 0:04:50 WORKING IN KILKEE - When Moira was thirteen she was sent to Kilkee to mind a baby for a couple who owned the Strand Hotel. She was very homesick. She recalls being there for six weeks and she had to share a room with other workers. She says the weather was lovely in those days and there were crowds in Kilkee. She would have to look after the baby all day and sometimes she would have to wash up. The Griffins, teachers from Kildysart went to that hotel every summer. When she saw them there got homesick and she asked them to take her home. She recalls getting a pair of sandals with the money she had earned.
0:04:51 - 0:07:05 SHOES - Moira recalls when de Valera introduced the free boots scheme. You got a voucher and you either got boots or wellingtons. She says they would get such hot summers and coming from school the road would be so hot that they would take their shoes off. She loved to hear the horse-drawn mowing machines while she was at school.
0:07:06 - 0:12:33 WORKING WHILE STILL AT SCHOOL - Her three brothers worked with farmers. Moira worked while she was going to school at the age of thirteen. She would go to houses in the village after school. On a Saturday she would go to Conneally's to polish their shoes. Conneally's was a shop and pub. She worked at John McMahon's after school and they would give her dinner. John McMahon was a carpenter and he had a big workshop and hardware shop. It was where O'Grady's shop is now. The O'Gradys lived down the Quay Road at that time. John McMahon's wife kept boarders and a solicitor would come from Kilrush once a month and see people there. Moira chores included washing by hand with a scrubbing board and cleaning. On a Sunday after mass she would also have to go there to help with the dinners and make the beds. Her family would get groceries in payment for her work. Sometimes Mrs McMahon would give her money for the cinema. She started working for the O'Gradys when she left school.
File 4 0:00:00 - 0:05:01 WORKING IN KILDYSART- Moira left school at 14. Her friend went to England to a nun who was a relative and she became a nurse. Moira had to go to work in Kildysart for O'Grady's who were butchers on the Quay Rd. Mrs O'Grady kept lodgers too. She says her family shopped at Conneally's. They would get their milk in a tin can. She speaks of the country butter. Sometimes it would be kept up on the counter. In O'Grady's she did general cleaning work. She would start about 9 and it was up to them what time they let her off. She also worked there after mass on a Sunday. Her mother would work there too on fair days.
File 5 0:00:00 - 0:02:32 FOOD/SWEETS - Moira says her mother worked for O'Grady's and Conneally's in Kildysart on fair days. She would help out cooking the meals. She would be paid in meat. Moira says she ate more meat at her grandmother's than at her own house. They would usually have potatoes and vegetables. The vegetables would be greased with dripping. She remembers buying penny butterscotches when she was very young. A couple of women, the Miss Hurleys, had a sweet shop just before you came into the village.
0:02:33 - 0:06:46 WORKING FOR GUINEYS IN OFFALY - Moira says that before she went to work at O'Grady's she was sent to work in Offaly. She worked in Rhode near Edenderry in the house of the Guiney family-related to the Guineys that had the shops. She remembers they had racehorses. She was about 15 at the time and she had to look after the whole house, ordering food and cooking. She had a boyfriend there and they would go to dances in Edenderry. Her wages were sent to her family. She says she was paid very little. She found the job hard and only stayed about 6 months.
0:06:47 - 0:28:20 WORKING FOR COSTELLOS IN DUBLIN AND JOBS IN ENNIS - Moira then recalls being sent to Monkstown in Dublin to work for Costellos. They were related to John Costello the former Taoiseach. There was one elderly woman and three daughters. They had a four storey house and Moira slept in a room in the basement. She was looking after the elderly woman all day. She didn't like the job so came back to Clare to work for the O'Grady's. She then went to work for a daughter of the O'Grady's who was married to O'Dea in Highfield, Ennis. He was a dentist in Kildysart. She says in Ennis at that time there was so many jobs available and they all wanted young girls to work for them for very little money. She says it was easy to go from one job to another. She worked for the Blackwell family and then worked for a solicitor called Walsh in Bank Place. She recalls they were lovely people to work for and they were the first people to give her a chocolate egg at Easter. She would go to dances and the Queen's and Paddy Con's. The gave her a key to the door so she could come and go as she pleased. Her family heard about her having a key to the door and they sent her father in to bring her home and she was sent off again reluctantly to the Costellos in Dublin. Her sister Theresa was also sent to Dublin, to mind children for Mortells, who had a hotel in Sandymount. Moira recalls not getting a lot of food at the Costello's house. She describes her life working for them. One of the daughters would give her a cake for helping her in the garden. She recalls on her half day off going to the Metropole Cinema on O'Connell street with her sister and they would buy bags of sweets and biscuits. Her sister would give her food at her house. She recalls the elderly Costello woman sending her to the butchers for a sheep's head once a week and they would make soup to last the week out of it. She wasn't allowed to use the bath they had. She had a black and white uniform for the parties they had. She thinks John Costello came to the house a few times. She had to address the mother as 'The Mistress' and the daughters as 'Miss'. She would have to sieve the dust out of the coal to make slack and they would wet it and put it on the fire to make it last. The daughters had office work in the city. She never went home for the year she was there. She recalls them having a washing machine that had a mangle on it. Eventually she heard that a former boyfriend of hers from Kildysart had been killed in a traffic accident in England and her and her sister returned to Clare. She never told the family she was leaving. She was paid £5 a month from them but most of this was sent home. After she left they sent a letter to her family in Kildysart looking to be reimbursed with that month's money they had sent. She then met her future husband, Anthony McCarthy, who had returned for a holiday to his home in Labasheeda after a year spent in Australia and she went to England with him and her sister. She lived with a relative in Ferndale Road in Brixton and got work in the Decca television factory.
File 6 0:00:00 - 0:02:24 WORK IN DUBLIN - Moira recalls often visiting her grand-uncle, Jack Blake and his wife Nelly in Ranelagh in Dublin. He tried to help her get away from the Costellos but they didn't want her to leave and they refused to give her a reference.
0:02:25 - 0:06:45 DANCES - Moira speaks of the dances in Ennis. She says Ennis was a great place to socialise. She recalls going to Kenny's cinema in Kildysart. She thinks it was 10p for the cheap seats and one and six for the 'posh' seats. Eventually it was turned into a dance hall. When she worked at O'Grady's her parents would only let her go to dances if Rose O'Grady went with her. She says her parents were very strict about her going out and having boyfriends.
0:06:46 - 0:08:50 CHILDBIRTH - Moira recalls her mother saying that in her time they were terrified of priests. When they had children they weren't allowed to go near the church until they were 'churched'. They stayed in bed for nearly two weeks after having a baby. The women had all their babies at home and in the early years they were delivered by a doctor and in the later years by a midwife.
0:08:51 - 0:18:58 ISOLATION WARD/ILLNESS/AMBULANCES/DOCTORS - Moira recalls having diphtheria on two occasions when she was young and she had to go into an isolation ward in Ennis. Her father would cycle in and leave sweets for her but couldn't visit her. After the second time she was isolated they said she didn't have it at all. She recalls a neighbour going to the sanatorium in Ennis with TB. Other neighbours built isolation rooms onto their houses for relatives with TB. She recalls an ambulance would often come to take children to have their tonsils out and bring them home again. An ambulance came for her when she broke her wrist. Ambulances came frequently for people because there were no cars. She recalls her toes being burnt by a kettle of boiling water. The doctor, Dr Crowley, came every day to dress them. She recalls that Dr McGrath lodged at O'Grady's when he was starting off. They didn't have to pay the doctor. She speaks of how good Dr McGrath was. She says Dr Crowley came from Carrigaholt.
0:18:59 - 0:21:43 KILDYSART HORSE SHOW - Moira describes some of the shops in Kildysart. There were four draperies-two Moloney's, Kenny's and Pender's. She says the Kildysart Horse Show was held in Shorepark when she was young. She says that was the highlight of the year. Her father would mind horses in Conneally's yard. There were hawkers and stalls.
File 7 0:00:00 - 0:05:20 HOLY WELLS - Moira says she knows of two local holy wells-one near her in Lacknashannagh and one in Crovraghan. Her uncle Joe Larkin looked after the well in Lacknashannagh. He would get it ready for the 15th August every year for the rounds. It was known as Joe's well. She believes that years ago they would baptise children in it. People would come from all around for the rounds. She says there were very few houses on Lacknashannagh road then. She says the well in Crovraghan was supposed to have cures for arthritis etc. One man left his crutches there. The field it was in was owned by the McNamara's from Woodlawn in Kildysart.
0:05:21 - 0:11:36 ELECTRICITY/RADIO/TELEVISION - Moira says they had no electricity when she was growing up, only oil lamps. It would be very dark walking to other people's house. She was about 14 when they got the electricity in. Her family could only afford a couple of lights and no plugs at first. She says some people were a bit afraid of it. She remembers lamps that would have to be pumped up. Her aunt was registered blind and she was one of the first in the area to get a radio when they were given to blind people. She speaks of the wet and dry batteries for the radio. She says lots of people would come into her aunt's house to hear the radio. She remembers when she was older listening to Radio Luxembourg. She says the first people to get the television in the Terrace were Paddy & Ellie Cusack. Moira was away in England then. The children from the area would come into their house to watch the television.
File 7 0:00:00 - 0:02:04 CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION - Moira recalls the Corpus Christi procession every year in Cahercon Convent. They would walk all around the grounds. There was a place in the grounds called Calvary. They would then go into the convent for tea.
0:02:05 - 0:08:00 SHANNONSIDE - Moira speaks of the time in the late 1960s when the American actor Cary Grant and others were planning to build a golf resort at Shannonside, Crovraghan. She lived in Dublin at the time but her family told her about Cary Grant's visits to Kildysart. They built nine or ten houses in a beautiful location but he scheme failed and the shells of the houses are still there. People took the windows and the doors from the houses. The Americans bought three farms; Dillon's, Scanlon's and Cannon's for this project. Moira's brothers had worked at Dillon's farm.
0:08:01 - 0:14:15 SUPERNATURAL/RELIGION - Moira says people would frighten them with ghost stories. They would be told that the 'Boody Man' would get them. They got their water from Malone's well and before that it had been owned by an old man called Hanlon. His ghost was said to appear there. She says people were very superstitious. She speaks of fasting the night before receiving communion. She recalls fasting during Lent and on fast days. At one time she says women would have to cover their heads before going into church. She says her younger sister and her friend were once put out of the church for not having their heads covered. In Kildysart Church the men and women had to sit separately-men at one side and women at the other. The masses were said in Latin. The priest had his back to the congregation.
0:14:16 - 0:20:48 CHRISTMAS - Moira says the preparation for Christmas in her house was done on Christmas Eve including the buying of any presents. They would decorate with holly but she doesn't recall any cards. She was about 14 when she got her first birthday card. They would have candles in turnips in the windows. She recalls the thirteen houses of the Terrace were a lovely sight to see at Christmas with all the candles in the windows. She sang in the choir at the 8 am mass on Christmas morning. She recalls her grandmother taking her to mass in an ass and car. She would be delighted to get pencils and copies as presents. The highlight of the day was lemonade, cake and jelly. Her mother always cooked a goose. She recalls going out on 'the wren'.