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The Conservatory.

28 Mar

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Early morning sun casts dappled shade in a corner of the conservatory. conservatory 004

Olive, Fig and Lemon…newly repotted.

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Ganesh…remover of obstacles looks to the East.

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Buddha brings serenity.

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Tomato plants are looking good.

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Seating area sorted.

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Yes! We’ve finally got the conservatory sorted out. Up to now this has been a sort of dumping  area. Recycling stuff, tins of paint, building materials, all ended up here. Over the last few days we have had a big sort out. All the aforementioned are now in the newly tidied shed and the conservatory is at last how we want it. A useful,  usable space. A nice place to take a break or chill out in the Summer heat…hopefully!

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That’s me faffing about at the end…under Lettie’s watchful eye…as always. As you can see we’ve even found a place for the desk here.

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It’s the only place we could fit our big old American fridge. Not a modern reproduction but the real thing made in the US in 1957. We bought it in a second store when we first came back to Ireland in 1996. Someone loved it enough to bring it to Ireland with them.  I wonder if it was a returning emigrant or an American coming to live here? We shall never know but I often wonder.   Still works perfectly and a lot roomier than the new fridges.

Well it seems thats the house finished now! Time to get out there and get that garden sorted.

 

Memories…

27 Feb

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Isn’t it interesting the things which hold memories for each of us? For me this old kitchen dresser which I’ve had for about 27 years holds a lot of items…each with their own little scene in my mind’s eye. The cups hanging from the hooks are Arklow pottery.  Arklow pottery features high in my childhood memories. We had several sets of it as I grew up in Tipperary. I particularly remember 2 sets… one with a pheasant design and another set which had a green background with a tree of life design in black. Sadly none of it is left now.  These floral cups are my real favourites now. I always watch out for them at car boot fairs and in charity shops but they are fairly hard to come by these days.

Arklow Pottery was set up in Arklow, Co. Wicklow in 1935. It was taken over by the Japanese firm Noritake in the nineties but sadly production ceased in 1999.

There was murmurings of  an Arklow Pottery Museum being set up but that alas never came about.

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Every old Irish house used to have one of the Willow Pattern platters. Traditionally used to present the turkey at Christmas. The 2 blue bottles we dug up in the garden of the first house we had here in Roscommon. The white mug Andy bought at a school fete 37 years ago. The Thelwell transfers on it were bought at the same fete. A lovely combination and a lovely memory.

The big mug with the blue and red flowers belonged to my paternal Grandmother…she died in 1980. I always think of her when this mug catches my eye.

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This little pottery doggie was a gift from a small child. She is now a fashionable teenager.

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The pottery with the butterflies is Aynsley which I collected in the 80s. These pieces were presents from my brother Tommy. The little jug with the crocuses is by English potter Clarice Cliff. Picked up at a car boot for £3.

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I really love this little set with it’s nursery rhymes…See saw Margery Daw and Little Jack Horner sat in the corner. The full set would be lovely but I only have these three pieces which were picked up at an auction.

The tall blue coffee pot was bought on my one and only visit to London’s Portobello Road market sometime in the 80s. That was the occasion of my first visit to the big city of London.I ‘m afraid I didn’t fall in love with it like many people do. Thoroughly enjoyed the city holiday but it’s the country life for me.

I look forward to Summer coming when I once again will peruse the car boot fairs searching for more treasures to add to my collection.

Yards and fairs and discovering new places.

3 Dec

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I always hate getting diggers in but sometimes needs must. I always hated the big bed that took up a large area of the front yard.

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It would have been impossible…well maybe not impossible but damn hard work to do this work by hand. Our backs are worth more than that. Three trucks loads of soil and overgrown plants were taken away. Thankfully the weather has continued to be dry so there was’nt too much of a mess.

 

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By evening all was done and we now have a spacious new yard.

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Saturday and Sunday saw us taking stalls at local craft fairs. The Organic Centre in Rossinver had their fair on Saturday and on Sunday we attended the fair in Manorhamilton in north Leitrim. Andy has got back into glass painting recently…I love this heart design. It sold well as it isn’t priced too high…ideal for pressies.

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We totally sold out of night lights. Very affordable at 5 euros each.

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I made my usual supply of Caramel slices…

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and the ever popular Melting Moments.

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On Monday I went to Boyle where I have started volunteering one day a week in a charity shop. Being a little early I decided to have a little stroll by the river. To my surprise the path didn’t end where I expected it to at the end of the shops. Instead I saw a stone sign with The Lawns written on it. Following the path I found myself in a previously unknown little park. It’s really just a path along by the river but it is pretty.

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Some lovely mature trees here. So delighted with this little discovery. I will make time to walk here in future. By the way…can you see the face in this Beech tree? I didn’t see it until I looked at the pics on the computer.  He looks…well I think it’s a he…Oriental to me. Had a bit of a relaxing day today after such a busy few days.

Under Hunter’s Moon.

18 Oct

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As full Moon approaches the weather is still very mild for October and of course the impending full Moon…which in October is called Hunter’s Moon…means that the nights are just fabulously bright. Well they were until last night but today was a wet day so tonight will more than likely be cloudy. Not much chance of seeing the eclipse then!

During the dry days of last week I decided to try out something I’ve been reading about for some time. Vinegar makes an eco-friendly weed killer. Newsflash: it doesn’t work! We wanted to get rid of some of this perennial Geranium as there’s far too much of it. Our usual method would be mulching but that can’t be done here as the area is planted with Spring bulbs. Looks like we’ll have to get digging!!

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Indoors work continues processing the fruit harvested and frozen during the Summer…this is Blackcurrant wine. The sourdough starter which used the grapes to get it going is now active.

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Autumn fruits are so plentiful this year. The hedgerows are dripping with Elderberries…Ireland’s Echinacea…excellent for the prevention and treatment of colds and flus and building up one’s immune system.

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I used some of this lot to make a tincture and the rest…along with Rosehips and Crab Apples to make a Hedgerow Jelly. As I write more are simmering on the stove to make into Elderberry Cordial tomorrow.

The tincture is very easy to make. Just fill a large glass jar two thirds full with berries then cover with good quality vodka. Leave for at least a month then strain off the liquid.

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Store in dark bottles or jars. Ten drops a day is a good preventative medicine…up to 30 drops if you have a cold or flu. If you look closely you can see I got the date a bit wrong on my label here. Ready in 2313! Must change that!

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Lots of garden produce at the moment too. This meal is completely local grown. The Potatoes are Ratte which I grew in pots outdoors. One pot to eat the other to keep for seed if we liked them. Boy do we like them…they are delicious!  The leftovers were used for potato salad next day. Best spuds ever for potato salad. Shall certainly be growing more of these next year. The Kale and Cucumber we grew ourselves while the Red Cabbage was from a friend’s garden. We ate that raw mixed with Apple as a coleslaw.

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Andy has been busy too. Grass is still growing strong…that’s his department. He also makes sure theres lots of logs cut to keep the stove ticking over. In between those and all his other jobs he took advantage of a few spare hours earlier in the week to paint this lovely artwork for the glass in the door leading from the kitchen to the utility room. Surrounded by his trademark brightly coloured flowers…

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with a lovely Sun in the centre…I love it!

Velux windows and garden flowers.

17 Jul

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From the outside the house looks the same but changes have been happening inside. New windows on the north side let in lots more light, toilet is moved, bathroom is sorted. However the biggest and most noticeable change for us has been the addition of 2 Velux windows above the kitchen.

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Inside the difference is dramatic…two windows…one to the south…one to the north flood the former dark kitchen with light. Previously a light would always be on here but no more. Such a pleasure to be in this room now. Good light is so important for one’s health and wellbeing in my view.

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We searched high and low but failed to find a nice wide non plastic lampshade for here. One website had one for a couple of hundred pounds which was a non starter. Visiting our previous neighbours I asked them where they got their shade. Turns out they had a spare one exactly the same lying in the shed. It does have a chip in the enamel but that just adds to the rustic country feel. There is a hook to raise and lower the light.

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All this made me curious about Velux windows…who invented them etc. Well I’ve done the research and they were invented by a Danish man called Villum Kaun Rasmussen. He was a civil engineer from Denmark. KR’s (as he was known) vision was “to develop a roof window which in every respect was just as good as the best vertical window.”  He set up his company in 1941 and in 1942 developed the first Velux window.

I wonder what makes Danish people so good at design?

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In the garden everything is doing well. Blackcurrants are just ripe and flowers are loving the hot weather. This Galega (Goat’s Rue) looks cool in the heat. The early days of this week have been cooler…around 20 celsius…however the temperatures are set to rise again towards the weekend. According to the New Zealand weather forecaster Ireland is not to get rain again until September 11th. Already the ground is starting to crack…if it lasts until September our green will be turned to brown.

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Evening primrose has also started flowering. Will save seeds of this as it’s larger than the one I had in my old garden.

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Shasta Daisy is in a large pot outside the conservatory. I brought this one from Arigna but there’s lots of it in the garden here too. I really like it as the flowers last a long time and fit in with any planting scheme.

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Rosebay Willowherb  has also just come into bloom. Regarded as a weed by many I love it…I will of course remove it when it finishes flowering as I don’t want it to take over…it is a rapid spreader. The leaves do have some herbal use…a decoction or infusion is used to treat headache and migrane. Apparently it is much used in Russia as a tea. It is very high in Vitamin C. The thing I don’t like about it is those fluffy seeds that come after the flowers but it will be gone before those get a chance to make their appearance.

Flowers and sunshine in an Irish cottage garden.

8 Jul

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It’s hot in Ireland today. The heatwave is here. Hottest place in the country today is Listowel, Co. Kerry…29 degrees celsius. Too hot for us fair skinned Irish. I love to see the Sun and feel it’s heat but that just stops me in my tracks. I’ve been hoeing in the yard today…it’s a great time for that as the weeds just burn up in the sun. A few minutes hoeing and a few minutes in the shade…that’s me today.

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The garden is looking good right now. So many Bees and other insects about. They especially like this tall Valerian. There’s a loud hum everytime I pass here as they complain about being disturbed from their ecstasy.

It’s a plant I  like too…I love it’s height and the fact that you can see through it to the rest of the garden. I think Verbena bonariensis would look nice amongst the Valerian here…a nice contrasting colour and similar habit.  What do you think?

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A plant which was here in the garden is this Cephalaria gigantea. I wasn’t familiar with it before now but I do like it.

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It’s almost 6ft tall with creamy yellow Scabious like flowers. Apparently it grows easily from seed. I shall certainly save some and grow some more of this lovely.

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Lady’s Mantle…Alchemilla mollis is at it’s peak right now. It contrasts lovely with this pink perennial Geranium at the base of the Apple tree….but then it would be hard to find something that didn’t look good alongside the wonderful zingy green flowers of Lady’s Mantle. I know some people dislike it but for me it’s a star in any border.

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Another pretty one growing in the Orchard area. I don’t know it’s name…anyone out there know? Someone said to me recently to pull it out as it spreads like mad. I hadn’t the heart to pull it…if it spreads so be it.

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The first Dahlia flowered today. The dark foliage sets off the orange flower brilliantly. I keep all the Dahlias in pots as I find they die over the Winter otherwise. The pots are useful to use as fillers where any gaps occur.

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Hypericum has just started to bloom under the Alder tree. It seems to like the semi-shade here.

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I planted this Primula vialii here a few weeks ago not knowing that the little leaves growing beside it would turn out to be a lovely little native Orchid. Nature does it best…what a good pairing they make.

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Another recent purchase was this Primula florindae “Kellour hybrid”…I do love the taller growing Primulas. This one is scented and smells just like cinnamon.

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A few flowers in the polytunnel too. These are Purple Teepee beans…

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and this Bush Tomato is showing the promise of fruits to come.

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In a corner of the polytunnel this Thunbergia is flashing it’s eye catching blooms. Commonly known as Black Eyed Susan it needs a sheltered sunny spot. It can grow up to 10ft tall and flowers from July right up to October.

So there you have it…flowers and sunshine in an Irish cottage garden.

A perfect Summer morning.

26 Jun

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I was up early this morning…woken by the birds and the bright sunshine. Even though it was perfectly still there were no midges about. The smell of new mown grass still perfumed the air.

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I love how the freshly cut grass makes everything look nice and fresh. The cut grass is a valuable resource for the garden…we use it for mulching around plants and also add some to the compost.

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The dew was still on the plants when I was rambling round the garden. With only light canvas shoes on I soon had wet feet from the dewy grass.

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Masses of perennial Geraniums in flower now. These were here when we moved. I do like them but they need breaking up with some other plants…contrasting colours. Any ideas anyone?  Lots of work to be done here next Winter methinks…of course shopping for plants to be done first. Lovely!

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I love the tiny little flowers on this Geranium.

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The bed I planted up last month has come on very well. Nothing grew for a while but then we had heavy rain and everything took off. That’s what makes Ireland so lush and green…the life giving rain. Ireland wouldn’t be Ireland with a hot sunny climate.

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In the new bed I notice the Tree Lupin is coming into flower. Nothing special about it…a fairly common plant. However…this one is special to me because I grew it from seed. I never tire of that feeling of watching something you’ve sown as a tiny seed grow into a mature plant. Magic!

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Lovely shadows created as the sun filters through the trees on the eastern boundary…

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and the pond is so still…even the little creatures that live here are still resting. If you look carefully you can see a Newt in the pic. Lots of them here.

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As I head indoors this freshly emerged Poppy catches my eye. Couldn’t miss this striking colour I suppose!

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Back indoors I have a cuppa whilst admiring this lovely bouquet I received yesterday from another cottage garden.

A perfect Summer morning at Flynn’s Cottage.

As Solstice approaches…

17 Jun

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As the longest day approaches everything in Nature is full of vitality and bursting with energy. The weather is good… not as hot as our recent heatwave which suits me…and probably most Irish people better. I don’t think we are genetically disposed to very hot weather…most of us wilt when it gets above 23 or 24c.

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Cherries are starting to swell on the trees. It’s looking good for Apple and Plum harvests too…and of course the Blackcurrants never let us down. Even in the recent bad Summers the Blackcurrants came up trumps. The seem to like the conditions here in the north-west. Lots of freezing, jamming and chutney making to be done later it seems.

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In the polytunnel the first bed is made.

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The first thing to be planted was a Mexican Midget tomato. It already has flowers so shouldn’t be too long before we get lovely little sweet Tomatoes here. Several varieties of Lettuce, Basil, Rocket, Chervil and Dill were planted plus 3 more Tomato plants. That’s that bed full…time to get another one constructed.

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In the front garden Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)  is in flower beside the pond. Not one of my favourite shrubs but I can’t see us taking it out either…but then again maybe we will. Andy isn’t a big fan of it either.

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Within the pond the Water Lily has been teasing us for days with it’s semi-open blooms.

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Under the shelter of the verandah  the Clematis has burst into flower.  Not the dark purple I’d like but still quite pretty. It’s one of the plants the previous owners planted here. Maybe I will replace it in the Winter with Clematis jackmanii my absolute favourite Clematis.

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On the lane the Hawthorn flowers are just going over. Soon they will make little Haws which will light up the hedgerows with their vibrant red come Autumn.  The cycle of the year continues…as it always does.

Climate change, unpacking boxes and favourite books.

9 May

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The weather is back to rain again so garden days are at a standstill for a little while. Really heavy rain last night…monsoon like…lots of flooding today. Apart from more rain in the last few years I also notice that the rain has changed…much heavier monsoon like sheeting rain. I suppose that’s climate change. There’s no denying it’s existence even here in Ireland.

Anyway the rainy days give us a chance to work indoors on the cottage renovations. The sitting room is finished now so with great joy we start unpacking things not seen since last September. The thing I missed the most in that time was books. I know everything can be looked up on Google now but for me nothing beats picking up a book.

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As each box is opened one is reacquinted with old friends. Alice in Wonderland my favourite book from childhood….

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an old herbal book given to me by a lady long left this world and from my school days a poetry book.

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Time to stop and read once more my favourite poem…ever. The Road Not Taken by the American poet Robert Frost.

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Herbal reference books and of course gardening books…all at my fintertips once again. These will be much used over the Summer as the garden work continues and herbal potions are made from hedgerow plants along the lane.

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Soon the shelves fill up with treasures collected over the years. Andy still has many of his childhood books…they are here too…. on the top shelf. Of course every new house needs some new things…one of the new things is the mandala on the top shelf. I just love it…it’s from my friend June over at www.celticmooncraft.blogspot.com . The triskele is a favourite emblem of mine…

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as is the trinity knot. This is on a piece of stained glass set into the sitting room door. The door was made by our friend Alan and the glass was made by a guy called Matt Black who used to have a shop in Drumshanbo. I really love to have things made by local people.  I picked up the porcelian handle in a charity shop for 2 euros. You can’t see it very well in this pic but it has an exotic bird on it.

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Yippee! The books are back…onto the next room…or…if the weather picks up again…some more garden work. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

From bygone days…

15 Apr

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A neighbour visited last night and brought with him some old photos of people in the locality. These would all have been taken in the fifties in and around Frenchpark. How things change, black and white photographs, everyone sitting in line for the photo very formally. No instant look at the photos either like we can now. These would have been taken into town on the weekly visit, left at the shop and picked up the following week.

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The woman sitting on the ledge here was our visitors Mother. I think the machine behind the horse was for turning hay. As a small child I remember my Grandfather using one of these in the seemingly long hot days of Summer. Were the days really like that then or is the child’s view through rose tinted spectacles? I wonder…

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Three pretty girls all dressed up in their Sunday best. Everyone had what was called their “good clothes” which they wore to Mass and all day on Sunday. For the men it was always a suit and tie, for the women a pretty dress and coat or a skirt suit which for some reason, in Tipperary anyway, was always called a costume. I wonder if these three were headed off to Mass or on a day out somewhere. Of course visiting friends and relations was always done on a Sunday too so maybe they were going visiting.

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This picture is a bit blurred bit it gives an idea of the typical Grandmother figure of the time. Always dressed in black, a figure to be respected by all. This woman had the reputation of always having a smile on her face, she must have been happy with her lot.

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Last but not least another one of smiling Granny. I wonder if these two lived in the same house or was it visiting day? A happy day anyway.

I love these old photos, they bring one back to a time long gone, a time when as a very small child I probably had little appreciation of what we actually had back then. Makes me sound ancient but I’m not, to me anyway, I was born in 1958. My Grannies, both of them also wore the black. One of them died in 1981 the other in 1983. Of course not everything was perfect in those days. Years later we realise that sexual abuse was rampant in the church. Unmarried Mothers, as they were called, were often ostracised by their families, sent away, often never to return. At that time everything was swept under the carpet but thankfully the truth came out in recent years.

Many thanks to our friend Hubert for giving permission to share these photographs on my blog.

 

 

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