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Times Past

Recently we are becoming more and more aware that we are loosing our old ways and customs. This summer we were privileged to see and maybe for the last time, hay cocks and hay bales in local fields. The modern circular bale has become such a common sight now, that we might forget that our next generation will not be aware of what went before.

Images were conjured up of taking billy cans of tea, drunk from enamel cups. Doorstep slices of fresh batch loaf, thick with butter, and a jar of recently made strawberry/raspberry jam. There was a bottle of stout for each of the men, to quench their thirst in the heat of the day . It took two of us small ones, (maybe 6 or 7 yrs old) to carry this large square basket, down to the hay fields, with many stops on the way (because of the weight) to the hungry men. Neighbours would come each year to cut, gather and save the hay, and in turn each would give of his time to the other until all the hay was saved. We as children would enjoy the banter of the men, taste the tea, (which we would then spit out as it was an unfamiliar taste to children) and play hide and go seek behind the haycocks until it was time for the return journey with the empty basket.


As the years passed and machinery became more popular, a farmer with a baling machine which was hired, replacing the hay cocks. Then teenagers, we would stack the bales in the fields and in a week or so when they dried out some more, or when the local contractor could fit you in, would come with three or four men and draw in the bales on a large trailor to the hay shed, where we would be waiting to again stack them for the winter fodder. One man would be left with us to ensure that they were stacked tightly without danger of falling.

Slipping away

Also around this time lorries would arrive with used grains and hops from Guinness's brewery. The excitment was immense as the lorries pulled into the yard. Each load would be tipped into a purpose built and below ground level grain pit. It was bare feet time, we lined up and tramped the hot grains to press them and make room for the next load, I can still get the smell mmmm....... The cows and cattle were happy to chew this tasty stuff over the long winter nights.





                                                                                                                  Just outside Ballahadreen in Co. Roscommom there was an Offig an Phoist and shop, lovingly run by James Morihan and his wife. It was not your average Post Office but one where you could purchase your stamps at midnight if it was necessary, according to neighbours the warmth and friendliness of the Morihan welcome could not be found elsewhere. This phone box is just outside.

Our first phone had a two digit number, it had a handle to the side, when turned would ring in the exchange in our local post office. Then after some chat with the post mistress, she would connect you or phone back when the number was available. Once the conversation was over and the receiver was replaced it was necessary to again turn the handle to disconnect from the exchange.

Eircom ! who ?








It is easy to forget that these phone boxes even existed until suddenly, there is one lurking in the doorway of the post office in Stradbally (Co Ofally). This one was before automation and it was necessary to ask an operator to connect you to your number.








The pump was the only source of drinking water, each village had one. Water was carried in buckets or containers by hand, in wheelbarrows or in carts pulled by donkeys. It was also a meeting place to spend time with neighbours, and inquire of their wellbeing.

During the winter it was wrapped with tightly packed straw, then plastic and securly tied with twine. In the event that it inevitably froze the straw was set alight to thaw the water.

Some pumps are still used, the spring water has a fresh taste unlike the piped water in most homes today. (The price of progress)

The Post box

Post boxes are also disappearing with the loss of a number of post offices around the country. Every village had a post office, now it is necessary to travel miles depending on a lift in some cases. The pensoiner once known by the post mistress, who had time for a chat is now too busy with increasing numbers of poeple who are all in a hurry

The loading bank !

How many have even heard of one ?

It was the place where cans of milk were left for the truck from the dairy to collect from dairy farms throughout the country. The full cans were taken to the dairy to be pasteurised and as many empties were left in their place. The cows were milked morning and evening. The evenings milk was kept chilled overnight and the morning milking happened by magic before we as children were even awake. I have memories of my mother wheeling the cans down the road in the wheelbarrow and up onto the loading bank(long since gone)in time for the day's collection.


Today the modern milk truck collects milk, not in cans but in sterile containers by transferring the milk by the use of a suction hose. Health and Safety has come down to the farm as with all other areas of food hygiene, and in today's climate of ecoli and other germs it is a necessity.

 On the left Raharney's pride and joy(co.westmeath)

Are we the instruments of our own downfall ?

How many of us grew up hearing the words of the wise, "all that washing can't be good for you", but did we listen.

 The milestone

Since a friend reminded me to include passing Milestones, there is not a one to be seen. Where have they all gone ? are they in peoples back gardens, gone in suitcases to America with their replacements, the old distance metal signs ? Surely not! ! They were just as they sound, stones with the milage carved into it. Where is the nine mile stone?AA Roadwatch refer to it daily on their traffic report. Has the big new roundabout at Ashbourne swallowed up the Milestone ?

I am confident that I will find at least one around the country, now that the long bright summer days are approaching.......

Watch this space !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



his Austin A40 provked memories and the relaying of stories from childhood. The floodgates opened as I recalled Sunday afternoon drives to the beach, and to the Boyne Valley with my grandmother in the front, mother driving and the five of us in the back. Five I hear you say! where? ahh the boot is a cover from the back seat, which was taken off to accommodate the three smallest ones (that included me). Seat belts had not even been thought about. The ceaseless singing of ten little indians and finally the rosary as we approached home

.I could include a hundred old cars as more and more people are restoring them and join clubs, and they meet up for their sunday drives. Cars and tractors needed to be cranked to start the engines as they did'nt have electric starting motors. This Morris Minor of Dave's fits the bill