Ireland Long Ago; When I Was Young

September 3, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Irish houses (
Irish houses (
I was born in Ireland in 1927. I was the third girl in the family and I also had two older brothers. As time passed four more brothers and one more sister arrived. We seemed to get on reasonably well together, my mother was a gentle person who would sing softly and smile a lot to us when we were good. If at times we were not as good as she expected she would bring us all together and reason with us as to how to avoid mistakes in the future. My father was an Irish soldier, we did not see him in the daytime. Yet I still have memories of him, while walking and talking in the field with him in the evening time to check on the animals and to milk the cows.

Looking back to those early days of my youth I can see an amazing difference and many developments in the way we lived then and the way we live now. One could raise question after question about changing times and about progress, what ever answer one would come up with it was still a matter of moving with the times. I liked to hear the grown-ups discussing these aspects of life. At these times my mother would tell me to go out to play, yet I always stayed within earshot but out of sight. Subjects were talked about which I did not understand, but these subjects came to bed with me and I would try to make sense of them.

In those days there was no electricity or electrical equipment in the countryside. There was no media or newscasts. The postman came once each day. There was very little post. If a letter came more than likely it would be from someone of an earlier generation of the family who had emigrated to America or elsewhere. It would create great excitement locally and you could bet on it that the neighbours would gather in the house that night and reminisce on earlier times and bygone days. Us children loved these events. Again we would keep out of sight but well within hearing distance. The night could end up with a few songs or even dancing (usually half sets). There would be someone in the gathering with his fiddle, melodeon, whistle or concertina. Again the school children amongst us might get a penny to spend in the school shop the next day.

Then life of all ages was much different from today’s way of life. There was no running water. Rain-water was collected in barrels for household use and drinking water was fetched from a well or pump which could be as far away as the next farm. As small children we all had our own responsibilities either to give the animals their evening meal or milk the cows or bring in the firewood for that evening, there could well be washing to bring in from the clothes line etc, etc.

My mother was always very happy with us when we got all the chores completed, all the livestock settled down for the night, sufficient water in for the next day. It was then that we settled down to say prayers, to thank God for giving us a good day. Then it was off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

Looking back on life in my early years, I think that we just took life as it came and the children of today do exactly the same, they too take life as it is today. If we feel secure and nurtured as children then every thing else fits into place and it’s off to bed for a good night’s sleep, a new day tomorrow to be lived and enjoyed with our friends and our family.