Castlecuffe N.S.

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Archive 1 > Interviews for FOLKLORE 2000 PROJECT

A Visit to Molly Conroy

We did an interview with Ms. Conroy on the 8/2/2000 for folklore 2000 .We learned a lot about her school days and her childhood. We learned that life has changed a lot since then, like the subjects and the games. They only had about four subjects.There were English, Maths, local Geography and Catechism.

We would like to thank Ms Conroy for her time and generosity she put into this project for our school and us

Interviewed by: Brigid, Mary, and Jennifer


She started school at the age of six and on her first day of school she cried all day. There were approximately forty pupils in the school. Everybody was in the same room with an open fire at one end. The pupils had to bring turf or sticks in their turns. There was only a dry toilet and no running water. The pupils had to carry water from the well for drinking.
There were two teachers Miss Hyland who had junior infants up to second class and Mr.Barry had third to sixth classes. The girls mostly wore pinafores that their mothers would make. Everybody walked to school and in the summer time she would walk to school in her bare feet. She had to travel about a half a mile. Nobody had a bicycle so everybody had to walk to school. They played games like chasing and hide and seek.

School Subjects

Ms. Conroy's favourite subjects in school were reading and spelling and she didn't like maths. She didn't go to secondary school .She didn't like school. A Priest would visit the school once a year to examine religion. Inspectors would often visit the school. There was no Irish taught in that time only maybe a half -hour per week. She used a slate and a slate pencil when she started school and then a copy and pencil later. She brought bread and butter for lunch and maybe a bottle of milk.

She got her first Holy Communion at the age of seven and wore a white dress and veil or a hat. When she got her Communion she had to kneel around a railing. You had to be over ten years old to get your Confirmation. You were examined on the day of the Confirmation by the Bishop and if didn't answer your question correctly you were put back and had to wait another three years. She got a good lot of homework, mostly Maths. She learned some poetry and singing at school also. Her teacher used a hazel rod in those days and did not spare it.


She uses to boil an onion to cure a cough.
For a pain in the stomach she boiled milk and honey.
She used a bread poultice for an abscess.
She used water from the trough in the blacksmiths' forge in which the irons were cooled to cure warts.
Ivy leaves used to cure boils.


Church stations are masses in peoples homes.
All neighbours went to each others threshings to help out and this would last for about a month and then there would be dances at nighttime.
People visited each other's houses to chat, play cards and tell stories etc…
Pitch and toss was played at the crossroads on summer evenings with pennies.
When somebody died everybody would stay up all night. Men would be given clay pipes to smoke.
It was supposed to be unlucky to hear a cock crow after sunset. (At night)
It was unlucky to bring hawthorn blossoms into your home.

Breakfast : porridge, bread and butter (everybody made their own bread and butter)

Dinner : Potatoes , vegetables and milk and sometimes bacon if a pig had been killed .
Supper : Boiled egg, bread & butter and tea.

All the work was done by hand. There was no machinery. Everybody had to take part in the work. Children had to work in the fields during the summer. They had to weed potatoes, turnips etc…Hay had to be saved with forks. In the harvest sheaves of corn had to be bound by hand, stocked left to dry and then brought in and threshed by horsepower and then steam engine. Cows were milked by hand and calves were fed out of buckets. Water had to be carried from the well. Bread and butter had to be made. Cloths had to be washed by hand in a tub with a wash board.


She had a happy childhood. Her happiest moment was when she got her First Holy Communion. Her worst fear was thunder and lightning. There was not much headlines on the papers about drugs and murders. There was no medicine back then so they always used cures and they were always successful. It took her about half the day to do her daily jobs. She hated going down to the bog. They did not have frozen food or chips. She had to travel about three-quarters of a mile for water. Babies were reared in home made cradles or a horses collar. They were fed on milk from the cow. Children's vests were made from flour bags. She would walk three miles to mass on Sundays.

In every house there were six to ten children. She was the oldest of ten children and her mother died when she was only nine years old. She stayed at home most of the time and became a stand in mother to the others. She had to bake the bread and do the housework from an early age. There was nothing to look forward to in those days. There was no treats and you had to put up and made do with what you got. Santa Claus was only a name. She remembers when food was rationed. Each person was allowed a certain amount of tea, sugar and flour per week. There was no shoe polish. There were cards of blackening which costs 2p each. (Half a new penny)

Old Sayings

1.Instead of saying hello and goodbye they used to say good morning and good evening.
2.If Candlemas (2 February ) be fair and clear there will be two winters in the year.
3.The oak is soak and the ash is splash if the oak tree gets green first it will be a dry summer and if the ash tree gets green first it will be a wet summer.
4.If the wind blows from the north on the 1 of May you will have a cold summer.

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