Thursday, 14 March 2013

Country children

"I pity the country children of today. The journeys to and from school were an education as valuable as any we managed to imbibe at school. We had to trudge about three miles over little white limestone roads and through what was known as ‘mass paths’ through the fields to reach our school."

"… Setting out from home on sun-filled mornings with the nip in the air. I don’t remember any rainy September days, only the hazy light on the changing leaves. In my mind’s eye I can still see the jewelled cobwebs steteched between the blackberry fronds."

"I can remember the taste of ripe damsons and blackberries and hazelnuts which we cropped on our long journey homeward on autumn evenings. Cobwebs with dew, distant sounds of threshers, blackberries and hazelnuts gathered on the way. There were hazards too, like the eve of fair day when dealers’ wild horses were on the road."

-- Nancy Power, Redestown, County Kilkenny, 1920s 

“…we didn’t walk through fields to school, but travelled the then rugged and stony way which was uphill and down dales … no (paved) roads in those days of sparse cash but healthy living. Making ourselves happy with very little was the norm for us all."

"Those times were known as the ‘hungry thirties,’ which I think is a misnomer because there was plenty of home-produced natural food available everywhere and those that hadn’t it shared it with their neighbours."

"Walking to school, we stopped to look in birds’ nests, picked wildflowers to bring for the altar, pass herons, frogs, water-hens and a millwheel then in use, a maid putting out their cows after milking and a ploughman urging on his horses. At school we learned arithmetic by counting snails. We remembered a rat and his mate having a row, a white-horn in full bloom."

--  Bessie Byrne Sheridan, Askamore, County Wexford, 1930s

Both quotes from the compilation No Shoes in Summer, Wolfhound Press. Photo from 

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