Tommy Fitzpatrick

Interview by Geraldine Greene on February 22, 2011

Gender: Male

Birth date: 1919

Report date: September 19, 2015

Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:00:38 PERSONAL INFORMATION - Tommy was born in Tullassa, parish of Inch & Kilmaley in 1919 and lived there up to 60 years ago.
0:00:38 - 0:02:42 MATCH MADE, MARRIAGE & MOVING TO CONNOLLY - He stayed in digs in Parnell Street in Ennis (he left home when his brother got married) before marrying to Mary Reidy (Mary Jim Dan), Glaun, Connolly at age 31 - match made by John Shannon, Cloonanaha; got married Fr. Stewart in Kilmaley church on Shrove Tuesday 1951; dowry of £150 given to wife's parents; reception at Ennis; party at wife's house; moved to wife's home place in Connolly; preferred to live in the country; reconstructed the house. Glaun townland. Wife's mother lived to age 86 - kidneys problems
0:02:42 - 0:06:03 FAMILY - 12 siblings; 9 siblings survived - 6 brothers and 3 sisters; Tommy youngest of family; 3 died young “gone to the grave” (Paddy, Gretta & Timmy) before Tommy was born - probably ailments such as diphtheria & whooping cough; parents from Tullassa - his father Paddy married Mary Barry - a match; “all matches” then; one sister went to USA on the Star Line & 40 years passed before she made a visit home (by plane); another sister Lily went to Dublin & later married Pato Barry, Inagh (son of Garrett Barry, blind piper); 2 siblings alive now - Micho at home place in Tullassa & his sister Kathy (now 92 & in good health) in Inagh (married Michael Callinan & had family of 10) His brother Jack took over the Tullassa home place married Teresa Hehir & had family of 5; Micko, single stayed in Tullassa too. His nephews P.J. and Bernie live nearby. Tommy 10th youngest - born on 25th November 1919.
0:06:14 - 0:07:03 HOUSE, FARM & FARMING - Description of his parents' 2 farms - home place & outside farm at Cappanlea (18 Irish acres bought by his father); location in the parish - 4 miles from Ennis.
0:07:03 - 0:09:40 SCHOOL DAYS, TEACHERS, DISCIPLINE, SUBJECTS - School days in Kilnamona (nearer than Inch or Kilmaley); walked to school across the fields & some by road; recalls going barefoot on fine days; story of jumping over a hay-machine in a field; recalls names of teachers -Brigid & Joe Keating (not husband & wife), Julia Keating, Mrs Hegarty & Michael Kelleher (from Kilnaboy/Corofin); mentions some “wicked” & slaps with sticks V no hitting now; he enjoyed school - liked reading & writing; left at age 16; recalls playing hurling & kicking football.
0:09:40 - 0:11:23 MORE ABOUT HIMSELF & HIS FAMILY - More about his siblings; one sister, still alive is older than him; another sister, Bridie went to Ballynacally (married - match); hard times & health in past times; effects of flu. Tommy was born on 25th November 1919. He is now “on the road to 92”.
0:11:24 - 0:12:12 SCHOOL DAYS, GAMES PLAYED, BRINGING FIREWOOD TO SCHOOL AT WINTER - Parents brought half creel of turf by ass & cart.
0:12:13 - 0:12:36 BOGS & TURF - Carmody's bog, between Inagh & Connolly - 365 acres - 1/2p an acre then
0:12:37 - 0:13:12 HOMEPLACE - All houses reared big families of 8-12 in his young days Description of home house in Tullassa - thatch roof, 1 storey, 3 rooms, kitchen & loft upstairs
0:13:13 - 0:13:57 JOBS IN THE HOUSE & FARM, COMPULSORY TILLAGE - 5 acres of arable land - barley, oats, potatoes, mangles & vegetables; ploughed with horse; plenty of mouths to feed but lots of help
0:13:58 - 0:14:19 DIFFERENT TIMES THEN TO NOW - No soft hand-outs, dole, social welfare or much education. People “lived off the land”
0:14:20 - 0:15:12 HOUSE DANCES & WORK DAYS - House dances held when yanks came home from USA; often walked to the dances; often little sleep before going to work; “youth of today wouldn't do it”
0:15:13 - 0:15:50 WORK LIFE WITH CLARE CO. COUNCIL - Tommy worked with Clare County Council at aged 21/22 on the “new line”, the tar road from Inagh to Ennis through Shallee for 9 months; he travelled all the local roads by bicycle
0:15:50 - 0:18:20 MUSIC, DANCING, RECITATIONS, STORY-TELLING & SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT - Dancing, house dances when “yanks” returned home from America or England; Tommy walked with his neighbour Gerdie Commane and his cousin Johnny Hickey; more house dances at Kilnamona than Connolly; names some houses; 7 or 8 musicians on stage; names some musicians; not much crossroads dancing - mostly in houses; they often gathered at Fitz's house before going to a house dance & often this was better than the actual house dance; recalls platform dancing in Kilnamona; Tommy didn't play music but his brother Micho plays harmonica & regularly plays in pubs; Tommy's brother Jack played melodeon; his uncle played concertina; danced Caledonian set & waltzes; songs & recitations popular at house dances; refers to a neighbour's recitation; Tommy often danced as a girl & taught by Tommy Hogan; often went from dances to work without any sleep.
0:18:20 - 0:19:10 FARM WORK - Farm jobs after school - looking after cattle, gathering hay, picking stones, building walls, spreading manure, etc Tommy worked at home on the farm, other farmers & a gardener after leaving school as a teenager; in the evenings; not much free time; digging potatoes “praties”; Tommy often worked for local farmers when not with the Council - cutting turf, etc - paid work. low wages
0:19:10 - 0:19:25 CLOTHES - Recalls his grandfather buying him a short trousers & pullover
0:19:25 - 0:19:46 DRUMCLIFF - Some family members buried in Drumcliff, near Ennis
0:19:46 - 0:22:00 MORE ABOUT FARM WORK - Animals - 8 cows, horses, pony, no sheep, milked cows by hand; Butter-making - separating the milk churns & selling 1 or 2 firkins (some kept for own use) to Joe Malone in the Cornmarket in Ennis on Saturdays - done to the 40s/50s; sent 60-70lbs butter by bus to Ennis; mentions Reidy's yard; testing the butter for water main form of income was selling cattle (weanlings) & butter; he often with his parents to the market in Ennis on Saturdays
0:22:00 - 0:24:15 FAIRS - Held during the summer & in winter at the Fairgreen in Ennis & Clarecastle; Tommy helped with taking animals to fairs; often got up at 3am & walked with his cousins in Garrynagry (2 miles west) to Kilmaley (3 miles away) with over 20 cattle, bought by one buyer & taken to the railway station in Ennis; payment of 5 shillings & dinner for helping
0:24:15 - 0:24:49 STONE WALLS & THATCHING - He could build stone walls & thatched his house at Connolly.
0:24:49 - 0:26:07 WAGES - First wages at Clare County Council were small - 35 shillings weekly. Best money he ever got was working with ESB (digging holes & laying pole lines) for few months in 1942 at Kilnamona & West Clare; gave some money to parents; Tommy worked at home on the farm when not employed with the Council.
0:26:07 - 0:26:33 PARISH INVOLVEMENT - Mostly with Kilnamona though in the parish of Inch/Kilmaley; went to Kilnamona church.
0:26:33 - 0:26:56 SPORT - Played hurling & kicked football as a pastime at Tullassa in Hickey's field.
0:26:56 - 0:28:04 F.C.A. & SPORT & SOCIAL ACTIVITIES - Tommy went to summer (2 week) training camps in Lahinch from age 18/19 for 11 years; also Collins Barracks in Cork; had a great time - played football on the strands at Lahinch & Youghal & went to dances in Cork City hall (ballroom & sets).
0:28:04 - 0:30:16 CHURCH, MISSIONS, STATIONS & HOLY WELLS - Went to church in Kilnamona (nearer) though in Kilmaley/Inch/Connolly parish (crossed up through the felds); recalls the missions held every few years; stalls - rosary beads, holy medals, etc sold; Holy Father - great voice & preacher; sermons at the 3 masses; Recalls house stations at Tullassa; every house got a turn; mass & confessions held; describes the breakfasts; tells a story - “Mass was both good for the body & soul!”
0:30:16 - 0:31:20 GARDAÍ - Story of cycling home by night & stopped by Gardaí. Local Garda station in Inagh; had been a station in Maurices Mills
0:31:20 - 0:32:45 HOLY WELLS - Holy Well of the 9 Yellow Daughters at Gortmore near Tullassa - cure for sore eyes; story of his eye cured; St. Peter & Paul Well, Newhall on 29th June - recalls doing rounds & saying prayers; more about the Holy Well of the 9 Fridays at Gortmore near Tullassa
0:32:45 - 0:33:22 WREN DANCES/SOIREES - Recalls wren dances/soirees - held at Inch & Lough Burke; often 2 nights held at Christmas
0:33:22 - 0:33:42 MUSIC - Says his family got the music (strain) from his mother's side (Barrys) - learned out of their own heads or heard from others; his brothers played - Micho plays harmonica & regularly plays in pubs & Jack played melodeon.
0:33:42 - 0:35:07 TULLASSA PIPE BAND - His brother Jack, melodeon, 2 Commanes & Bernie Moran played in drums & pipes; started by Michael McMahon; band played at sports days eg Cree & Clonbony; collected money to support the band.
0:35:07 - 0:36:06 SPORTS DAYS - At Inagh & Kilnamona, shot putt, races, wheel of fortune, skittles; recalls rhyme at wheel of fortune- “devil of hair….”; mentions athletics; played for fun & exercise; recalls drinks - pints 10p.
File 2: 0:00:00 - 0:00:52 SONG - Sings song “Brigid Hogan” (Patsy McGann)
File 3: 0:00:00 - 0:01:32 FAMILY INFORMATION - More about his family and the farm in Tullassa; his father passed away in his 80s; his mother was married at 19 & passed away at age 55 (heart attack).
0:01:33 - 0:01:54 LONGEVITY & HEALTH - Blessed with good health due to work & exercise; age is only a number.
File 4: 0:00:00 - 0:00:25 HOLY WELL - More about the Holy Well of the Nine Yellow Daughters at Gortmore near Tullassa.
0:00:26 - 0:02:21 SPORTS & GAMES - Road bowling played before he was born; recalls pitch & toss - coins at crossroads in Tullassa; value of money.
0:02:22 - 0:04:40 SONGS - Learned songs from people & gramophones; sings a few verses of song “Dear Doctor John”.
0:04:41 - 0:05:33 MUSIC & DANCE - Jigging done if no live music for a set; Tommy enjoyed dancing & understands music.
0:05:34 - 0:06:45 TRANSPORT & WEST CLARE RAILWAY - Tommy travelled on the West Clare Railway once with his sister on Garland Sunday to Lahinch; mentions getting the bus from Kilnamona to Ennis buses from Kilnamona to Ennis; often walked to Ennis 4.5 miles away; he had a bicycle when working in the council in his 20s.
0:06:46 - 0:07:31 TRAVEL - Recalls trips to Tipperary, Wexford, Waterford & Offaly - went to the Ploughing Championships X 4 years; big farms & great land versus Clare; didn't travel outside Ireland.
0:07:31 - 0:09:58 MORE ON FARMING - Ploughing: - 8 acres of tillage when he was growing up; his brother a great plough-man with 2 horses; use of potato “pratie”- digger; food and entertainment after the ploughing Threshing done up to 50s-60s - machine operator Andy O'Meara from East Clare; neighbours gathered to help; long days; description of threshing; names farms where threshing was done.
0:09:58 - 0:10:33 EMIGRATION - Siblings scattered around Ireland and abroad - 1 to Dublin & 2 to America; first cousins to UK (teachers & lady doctor); Tommy was asked to UK but it was not “allotted for him” - he didn't want to leave the farm.
0:12:02 - 0:14:58 WORK DAYS - He worked with a farmer in Bushy Park setting vegetables, etc Moved to farm in Connolly. Theirs was last house in Connolly (parish of Connolly/Inch/Kilmaley) - bordering Mullagh; at bottom of The Hand hill; approx 10 miles from home house in Tullassa to new house in Connolly - he moved from the far eastern end of the parish to the far western end. Reconstructed the house. Farmed 50 acres - good land & view; milked cows & reared calves. Travelling creamery at Kinturk - lorry & tanks; went to Coore creamery in later years.
0:14:58 - 0:15:35 CINEMA - Tommy recalls walking from Tullassa to the cinema in Ennis (4.5 miles) - tells story of a film.
0:15:36 - 0:16:31 GERDIE COMMANE - Refers to neighbours Gerdie & his sister Phil Commane & how music “followed on in the breed”; Tommy recalls Gerdie and shares stories about him and his music.
0:16:32 - 0:16:57 HORSES - Tommy's brother Jack at Tullassa bought and sold & trained horses for farm work.
0:16:58 - 0:17:40 PUBS & SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT - Tommy & his wife often went to sessions & sing-songs; Tommy loved music and dancing; dancing in the house; sessions at Kearney's pub, Connolly; recalls hearing Willie Clancy. Miltown piper; enjoyed the “craic” & chat. Laments loss & closing of Gleesons pub in Coore. Cards & gambles at Christmas; ½ crown a head.
0:17:41 - 0:20:47 BLESSED WELLS & CURES - A claimed cure for sickness (empty reaching) in people at local well; people used cures for yellow jaundice; describes some cures; his father had a cure for fluke; talks about Owen Hegarty, Kilnamona & his cure for ringworm.
0:20:47 - 0:21:43 TRANSPORT - People walked, cycled & used horse and side car First car seen - model A baby Austin owned by P. Doohan; Tommy didn't drive; no cars in his time.
0:21:44 - 0:22:34 FISHING & BOATS - Recalls fishing for roach & trout at Islandgar Lake with his brother & cousin; Mickey Brown, tailor had a boat.
0:22:35 - 0:23:14 CLOTHES - Recalls his clothes made by Mickey Brown; in early days, his mother mended & “pieced” them; parcels from America; bought clothes at Baldy Armstrong's in Ennis.
0:23:15 - 0:26:10 WAKES & FUNERALS - Wakes & funeral parlours; clay pipes for men & snuff for women; banshee story at Tullassa - crying & mourning; women paid by the family of deceased person; fairies & superstitions: story.
0:26:10 - 0:29:20 MEMORIES OF WAR YEARS WAR OF INDEPENDENCE - Recalls going to school at age 6 & group of Black & Tans; bad times; Lisroe story - master & sow shot; Paddy McKee, postman shot & escaped though affected his mind; doesn't recall safe houses; recalls Rineen Ambush & “blackguarding” at Ennistymon
0:29:20 - 0:30:48 MARRIAGE & DOWRIES - Tommy married Mary Reidy (Mary Jim Dan) from Connolly at age 31; married on Shrove Tuesday 1951 in Kilmaley church; reception held in Ennis and session after at their house in Connolly; Tommy paid the dowry of 150 pounds to her family; Mary deceased - died in hospital after a bad flu 14 years ago
0:30:48 - 0:31:58 FCA INVOLVEMENT - Member of Kilnamona LDF group for about 11 years; he didn't continue with FCA after moving to Connolly in 1951.
0:31:59- 0:33:50 MUSIC, DANCING, RECITATIONS, STORY-TELLING & SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT - House dances held when girls home from US or UK; more house dances at Kilnamona than Connolly; names some houses & some musicians; names of the 7 or 8 musicians on stage; not much crossroads dancing - mostly in houses; they often gathered at Fitz's house before going to a house dance & often this was better than the actual house dance; recalls platform dancing in Kilnamona; story of Peggy Barrett, a Kilnamona neighbour.
0:33:51- 0:37:10 PRESENT DAY LIFE - Moved to Kilmaley Day Care Centre 6 years ago; had hip replacement; nieces help him; more freedom & company; spends 4 days at KDCC; gets his dinner & has a home help X 1 weekly; enjoys KDCC activities, singing & waltzing.
0:37:10 - 0:37:11 ELECTRIFICATION - Recalls electricity coming to Kilnamona & Tullassa in 1942; he worked with ESB for some months - describes their work; see working life above.
0:37:12 - 0:40:16 COMPARING LIFE NOW TO PAST & CHANGES - Big changes; more houses now & old houses gone. More trees planted & forestry. Less gardens planted now; lot of public houses now closed down. No soft hand-outs eg dole or much education in the past. He sold his farm over 25 years ago; he & wife stayed more years after that but now house closed up; dangers of living alone. Recalls learning Irish; said a few words of a rhyme.
0:40:17 - 0:43:36 FAMILY & SOCIALISATION - Tommy has about 20 nieces & nephews in Ireland & some in America. Tommy enjoys a few glasses of Guinness - good nourishment; rarely goes to pub now; often walked many miles to fairs, Willie Clancy music or other events; used go to sessions at Kearney's in Connolly or McCarthy's & Gleeson's in Coore; enjoys the 'craic' & chat; his brother Micho attends KDCCC weekly; enjoys annual Christmas session of music & songs at his home place in Tullassa with his niece's in-laws (Cotters) & neighbours. More about his family and the farm in Tullassa; his father passed away in his 80s; his mother was married at 19 & passed away at age 55 (heart attack) Longevity & health: His health is good; “age is only a number, its health that counts”; attributes work & exercise to his longevity. His sister and brother are both alive.
0:43:37 - 0:44:15 COMPARING LIFE NOW TO PAST & CHANGES - Big changes; more houses now & old houses gone; modern V thatched; bay windows & 2 storeys; houses costing thousands; world “expensive and modern”; good times couldn't last!
0:44:16 - 0:44:44 SINGING PROJECT - Tommy enjoyed his involved in singing project at KDCC & recorded some songs.
File 5 0:00:00 - 0:01:09 NEIGHBOURS - Mentions knowing Henry & Frank Greene, Kilnamona (interviewer Geraldine Greene's grandfathers and granduncles); sings chorus of song “Far Away in Australia”, a song often sung by Frank Greene.
File 6 0:00:00 - 0:00:26 NEIGHBOURS -Mentions knowing Jim & Frank Mescall, Kilnamona (interviewer Geraldine Greene's grandfathers and granduncles).