Peggy Cullinane (née Barrett)

Interview by Geraldine Greene on June 2, 2012

Gender: Female

Area: West Clare

Report date: June 29, 2012

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Time Description
0:00:00 - 0:00:57 STORY OF PEGGY'S BAPTISM - Peggy recalls her Confirmation in Inagh & hearing how her father & uncle danced a set in Leyden's pub after her baptism; christenings took place on the day after baptisms then.
0:00:57 - 0:07:31 FAMILY - Peggy was born in Ballyduffmore, Kilnamona in 1925 (in the house where her brother's wife Susan now lives (also recorded by Geraldine Greene, July 2012); christened Margaret Josephine; her parents both from locality; her mother was Fitzgibbon from Ballyduffmore; big family of Fitzgibbons & 4 sisters emigrated to America; her mother was the youngest & married her neighbour down the road; her father got sick and died soon after was born; she was minded at neighbours Mrs Guinane (their unlce's wife) until her father died; she taken back home then & the family had “to manage away”; her mother died in 1957 from cancer - only 35 years when Peggy's father died; Peggy & her sisters nursed their mother at home (helped by neighbours); she doesn't know if her parents' marriage was a match; there were 8 in Peggy's family - 4 brothers and 3 sisters; 2 died young; Peggy youngest and only one alive now; she names her brothers & sisters and gives more details; tough times; she knows little family history as her parents died young & her grandparents had passed away before she was born so no-one to ask; siblings lived locally; her brother Joe Barrett, a tradesman took over the family farm in Kilnamona. Her brother Pakie (a twin) was considered a good trademan too. She recalls her cousins, Sylvie Barrett's family whose father died when his family were young - one boy came to Kilnamona school as he lived with his aunt in Derula; 2 girls “joined the nuns”; Peggy “too cracked” to join. Barrett connection to Greenes: Peggy says that one of her grandparents came from Greene family home in Lickaune (Geraldine's grandfather's & granduncle's home) so Barretts and Greenes related; she recalls Henry & Frank being great friends as well as brothers.
0:02:08 - 0:15:15 SCHOOL DAYS - Peggy walked to school nearly 2 miles; accompanied by Lyons girls; they often walked with Mrs Mescall (Geraldine's grandmother) to mass; her teachers - Julia Keating & Mrs Hegary; she enjoyed school but they had to learn lessons off by heart & have their work done; story about Peggy & schoolmate Mae Hegarty singing for the Inspector; boys & girls separate classrooms & lunch times; she says the boys & girls not allowed mix & teachers didn't get on well; she tells a story about this; v. little Irish, sewing & knitting in national school; sport & games: Peggy recalls they did hurling & running at lunchtime in Cahirs field near the school; she loved hurling; families bringing turf or money to school - easier bring in turf; her neighbours or lad working with them brought it in after her father dying; she was asked to stay on for a while more in school & do sewing classes to make up numbers; Peggy left Kilnamona school at 14 & cycled to secondary school in the Tech in Ennis for approx 2 years; recalls doing Irish there & her teacher was Tadhg O' Sé; she recalls being asked to stay on longer at the Tech but she left to work in dress-making. Folklore Commission Bealoideas project: Peggy recalls herself & Mae Hegarty sitting at high desks in school & spending days transcribing stories collected by the girls at school into a big thick book; she loved doing it rather than the usual lessons with Mrs Hegarty. Kilnamona book - 1930s photos: Peggy recalls names of school mates & talks more about them; many have passed away; names some who are alive; a few emigrated. Mae Hegarty, athlete & cyclist: Peggy & Mae were classmates & friends; Peggy tells story of how Mae wanted her to join her for a cycle but Peggy didn't; Mae broke her arm that day; Mae held a national title for cycling; she could pass out her father's car as he drove to Ennis! Peg tells story of Mae Hegarty getting slapped by her mother & teacher when being examined on the Bible for Confirmation.
0:15:15 - 0:21:10 FARMING, BOG, BUTTER, FARM-HANDS & NEIGHBOURS - Farming was hard when Peggy was young; no machinery; hay done by fork & rake; local bog; she left home early so didn't do much farming; her family milked cows & fed calves; describes making butter, taking it to Ennis by bike & selling it; their butter renowned for its sweetness; some farmers wanted the local creamery in the centre of the parish; people often had live-in farm hands; girls expected to do a man's work then; neighbours helped one another; keeping pigs & making puddings; Peg names some neighbours & talks about Mikey O'Neill.
0:21:10 - 0:30:31 SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT - MUSIC & DANCING IN KILNAMONA - Peggy recalls a set danced at her Baptism at the sacristy in Inagh; she loved music & house dances, looked forward to them & never missed one; she didn't travel far to them; dances held at neighbours' houses when family members left or returned on holidays from England or America - held at Taltys & McTigues, not her house as none of her siblings emigrated; she recalls thefiddle & flute most common; she & her brother Pakie played fiddles; her brother Sean could play tin-whistle & bodhran; “others had no time”; she tells story of learning a tune by herself when her older brother Pakie was at a funeral; she learned from listening to the music; her 2 aunts played concertinas & her uncle the flute (she didn't know them as they passed away before she was born/young); she says she got the music from the Barrett side; she often played with Frank Custy & other musicians in Toonagh & at the senior citizens outings to Lahinch; she played fiddle until a year ago - arthritis in her fingers now; she loved the sets & waltzes; she recalls her first time seeing a set danced; she learned to dance from watching others; tells story of her playing at the tea-break at the dances & her mother's comments; she describes the Wren dances; she heard of but never met the dancing masters who taught step-dancing in Kilnamona; she names some good dancers such as Lizzie Pilk, James & Paddy Neylon, Jim Mescall (Geraldine's grandfather); she lilts a tune; she says their house was a “rambling house”; a different group of 4 or 5 older men called nightly on cuairt for stories, yarns & music; she recalls cards played at McTigues; she names some musicians - McTigues, Tom Eustace, Kilmaley, Tom Hegarty, Kilfenora who worked & lived at Hegartys farm - she says he was a lovely fiddle player & that houses would be full when he was there; Pakie was 5 or 6 years older than her & they never played fiddle together; she recalls Joe Ryan, Inagh fiddler who played at Pakie's house; she didn't see crossroads dancing; she met her husbank James at a marquee dance at Fountain Cross; bands played all types of music.
0:30:31 - 0:32:39 SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT - MUSIC & DANCING IN ENNIS - She says few houses dances in Ennis; she enjoyed dances at the Queens & Paddy Cons; she never missed the Tulla & Kilfenora Ceili Bands; she recalls jiving & waltzes at dances; she recalls the Fleadh in Ennis & the song about it (Robbie McMahon's song); she mentions a great fiddler, John Joe Cullinan who lived in the Cornmarket area of Ennis - he was a “flyer”; she played with him a few times; she thinks the pubs do not compare well with the house dances of her time.
0:32:39 - 0:37:20 SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT - She says houses dances not as plentiful in Ballygriffey as in Kilnamona; he loved music & dancing - he “sang and danced til the cows came home”; she played music after moving to Ballygriffey though few neighbours played except Mickey Meere on the tinwhistle; she never missed a Friday night in Toonagh at the music & dancing; the Tulla & Kilfenora Ceili Bands; she was delighted when Frank Custy moved to Toonagh & music & dancing became more widespread; she tells story of younger neighbour who took her to Toonagh a few years ago & got her to play the fiddle; she lilts a tune for her grandson & me; James recites an Irish rhyme for us; Peggy still loves music but her arthritis prevents her from playing the fiddle now.
0:37:20 - 0:41:08 WORKING & LIVING IN ENNIS - Peggy worked at dress-making in Ennis until she married; she & her sister rented a premises from Miss Hurley in Parnell Street; Miss Hurley lived overhead; she & her sister lived in Ennis for the week & cycled home at weekends; she occasionally went to the cinema & often went to the dances in town; she stayed in the Cornmarket area with her aunt who kept lodgers - girls going to school in Ennis; she learned her dress-making skills from her sister who learned from a woman in town; she describes her work; payment depended on the job; most people had their clothes made as not available to “buy off the peg” then; a lot of work involved in making clothes; she often made her own; last thing she made was a suit for herself.
0:41:08 - 0:44:10 MARRIAGE & MOVING TO BALLYGRIFFEY - Peggy met her husband James at a marquee dance at Fountain Cross; she got married & moved to Ballygriffey at age 31; they initially lived with his mother at the thatched house further in the avenue; in later years, a new house was built nearer to the road; she no longer worked at dress-making in Ennis; she milked the cows & worked on the farm; she occasionally visited her family in Ballyduffmore & went to neighbours' house dances when invited in Kilnamona; she had one son, Gerry; they shopped in Ruan & Ennis; no shop in Ruan now; there is a pub in Ruan; her mother-in-law lived with them until she died at age 93.
0:44:10 - 0:44:20 ELECTRIFICATION - Tilly lamps used in Ballygriffey before electricity; house work & milking done by hand; she doesn't recall date the ESB came to the area.
0:44:20 - 0:45:06 TRANSPORT - Peggy had a bicycle when at school - handy for getting to school and town; cycled to the Tech in Ennis; recalls the horse and sidecar; cars not common; she didn't recall first time seeing a car; she recalls being accompanied to school with neighbouring children; neighbour, Annie Mescall (Geraldine's grandmother) meeting them at her gate & accompanying them to Mass; she was never on a plane & didn't travel much.
0:45:06 - 0:46:22 STATIONS & CHURCH RELATED DISCUSSION - Peggy recalls the stations in Ballygriffey & preparation involved; Mass followed by food, music & dancers; she doesn't remember Stations at her house in Kilnamona or going to them at neighbours' houses; Lent was strict; they hid the sweets until Easter Sunday
0:46:22 - 0:48:29 FAMILY, EMIGRATION & PARCELS - None of her siblings emigrated; 4 sisters of her mother, the Fitzgibbons emigrated to America; she recalls the occasional letter home & parcel sent home but they didn't return home; her uncle went to America; she says maybe her mother would have been better off if she had emigrated; she recalls Agnes Rynne, a class mate who emigrated to England; she recalls some neighbours who emigrated or have passed away; she says her aunts didn't encourage her or her siblings to emigrate. Peggy recalls parcels from abroad; she recalls comments by the priest at Mass; she remembers she & her sister had a sewing machine at home; her mother hadn't time to make clothes as she was busy rearing her family & farming.
0:48:29 - 0:49:00 SHOPS - Peggy recalls some small shops in Kilnamona when she was young.
0:49:00 - 0:50:06 BIRTHS & COMPARING LIFE THEN & NOW FOR WOMEN - Peggy as born at home but her son was born in hospital; all children were born at home when she was young; story about the Inagh man whose wife died in childbirth; she compares life for women now to her time & mentions the many changes.
0:50:06 - 0:50:39 GARLAND SUNDAY AT LAHINCH & SWIMMING - She recalls cycling to Lahinch on her own on Garland Sunday; she learned to swim from watching others.
0:50:39 - 0:51:31 KILNAMONA BOOK - 1930S PHOTOS - Peggy recalls names of school mates & talks more about them; many have passed away; names some who are alive & a few emigrated; she recalls her neighbour Mick Lyons & the McTigue family.
0:51:31 - 0:52:31 THE BARRETT - GREENE CONNECTION - Peggy knows the Barretts and Greene were connected by marriage but not sure exactly how; she would have known it if her father had lived to tell her; she recalls Henry & Frank Greene (Geraldine's grandfather & granduncle).
0:52:31 - 0:53:50 HEALTH, LONGEVITY & PRESENT DAY LIFE - Talking about her longevity, life & health now; she enjoys attending the Clarecastle Day Care Centre weekly; she talks about a woman of 96 who attends CDCC & swims daily and another woman who sings & dances! Peggy's health is good except for her arthritis; she uses a walking frame/wheelchair occasionally to go places; she can still read & prefers radio to television; she enjoys a laugh & has a positive outlook on life; she is well-looked after by her family; she now lives with her son Gerry, his wife Nora & their son James, aged 5.

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