“We were happy with what we had”
I was born in Ballygrace. There were eleven in our family. My late mother came from Carriganimma. She lived to a great old age. She was one of the hardest-working people I know. I remember when she used to milk two herds of cows morning and evening, Lynch’s and O’Briens of Mount Corbett. She picked potatoes and bound corn. She was a great woman to walk, even late in life. She had her own share of Irish being from that area.
My late father was from the Lacharoe area of Liscarroll. He lived first in a little hag-gard in the Blake’s farm, which was called”Egan’s Screen” long ago, the house is long gone since. He worked around all the local farms.
In my young days, my mother never stopped working. With a big family, there was a huge amount of washing. Then she had to repair clothes, knit socks and jumpers. She was able to make rugs from canvas bags. She used to design a pattern and it looked very well when it was finished. She also made several mats. It was a type of patchwork. She had that skill from her early days back west. She had a ”Singer” sowing machine, which cost five shillings, and it made a lot of clothes.
We went barefoot to school – we had very little then. We went down Dan O’Brien’s field and came out at O’Conner’s gate. The Stacks of Ballygrace would join us there and there were more families as well. There would be up to twenty of us at that spot all head-ing for school. When I left school, I worked around. In the evenings we used to go road bowling from Sheehan’s forge to the Ball’s cross. I remember my brothers John and Jerry, Jack Sulli-van, Denny Stack from Ballygrace, Joe Murphy and Tim Flynn. We all played for a few pence. On Sunday evenings the stage was going. Bob Harrington, Jack Ellard and Johnny Sullivan played there later. My late brother Bill would sing ”The Bould Thady Quill”.
In my younger days, I remember cycling back to Carriganimma. I used to go for a few days holidays. I would start off at ten in the morning and arrive back at 4 o’clock and I would have a good appetite when I would arrive.
In our house in Ballygrace, there was always a crowd of people. I remember the card games. The Kearneys used to call very often. At Christmas I went out on the ‘Wren’ with John, we were young and hardy then. We walked a lot; and we went out at night and en-joyed ourselves. At present, I am enjoying good health. I can move around and go here and there and that is all I want. I have no aches and pains, thank God.
Mrs. Egan Recalls
I was born in Ballincurry across the way from Biddy’s Tree. My late father suffered with his eyes in his time. He went to the well and put the water in his eyes and he got rid of the complaint. He always said there was a cure for him from the water. Just below this house is Fitzgerald’s meadow. In that field, there is a burial ground for unbaptised children. It is nice to have these two historic spots at my doorstep.