Something is playing the eejit...either ipernity or my broadband connection...whatever it is won't let me post a rude comment about the Queen of England on Bernie's blog...just snatches the page away and shoves it in its pocket.
We're supposed to be having fibre optic broadband down our street which apparently solves all the problems...real and imagined. It isn't here yet of course, though work was supposed to be have begun in January.
One of the men planting the lecky poles told our neighbour his lights would be much brighter when the new wires are up and running...
I used to have an on-going spat with a bloke on Multiply about how backward the West of Ireland is...he came from Wicklow which is on the east coast and about as far removed from our way of life as it's possible to be...they had the electricity way back in the 1940's when I doubt anyone in this area had even heard of electric lights much less seen them...the road was surfaced...mains water installed...electricity connected and the bridge over the river Lung was built...all in the early Sixties.
The villagers had to club together to cover the cost for the old lady who lived in the Bishop's fishing cottage though...she was determined she didn't want or need a tap and certainly wasn't going to begin using that new fangled lighting...she carried on using her oil-lamps and taking a bucket to the well until the day she died.
Everyone had to be in agreement you see...especially about the piped water...and each household paid a small amount of money towards the cost...so they paid for hers and said she'd agreed.
Mikey, who lived here in our cottage, never used the tap he had either actually...he took his water for washing out of the river and his drinking water came from the spring in the field across the road. He had electricity in the cowshed...and one light and one plug in the sitting room...he used to unplug the 'fridge someone had given him when he listened to the radio...
We must have taken that 'fridge to the dump...can't remember now...the smell when we opened the door was beyond description especially as there was half a pint of milk still on the shelf and Mikey dead eight years.
It can be difficult for me trying to describe how life was, and still is in many cases, to people who have never come across such ways and times before...the blog yesterday about lads being sent to the seminary is a case in point...it was how it was...whether it was good, bad, or indifferent is neither here nor there...that was the norm for the times.
Next to our hearth is a long-blocked up doorway...that was for the cow to come and go as she pleased throughout the winter months...her warmth kept the family warm and she was safe away from slippery pathways and such like...no West of Ireland Irish person would be in the least taken aback by that...their Granny would have told them about the cow in the cottage...the chickens in a pen under the dresser...and the beaten earth floors.
There were half a dozen flag stones scattered about our sitting room floor when we moved here but the rest was beaten earth...what we do have, which is considered to be unusual, is a deep ash pit in front of the hearth. It's about two feet deep...earth-lined, with a piece of tin to cover up the top. It isn't visible now of course because we eventually put flooring down...but it's still there if the time comes when someone can restore our cottage properly.
Hearths were rarely cleaned out...the ashes were left to build up for months before eventually being put out on the land...it could have been because they were too hot to move safely...I'm not certain why they were left.
I casually mention having fibre optic broadband when Hubert can remember when the corn mill was still in operation...Henry bought a computer recently and can recall the days when he'd hang onto the back of a train wagon to get a free ride into town when the train station was still open...Marie has an en-suite bathroom now...but she used to wash her first born child's nappies in the river...Paddy will speak of his Grandfathers stories of the Whiteboys meeting in the room above the milking parlour...posting a guard at the crossroads to warn if the landlords bailiff was about...
Our little street with its half dozen or so cottages and a couple of derelicts is heaving with history...there was an animal pound behind Paddy's house and dancing at the cross roads...a lime kiln only fifty yards from our front door...trout to tickle in the river behind our homes for a free supper...and all this...apart from the Whiteboys...all this was within the last fifty years.
I do understand how difficult it is for others, who have never lived in a such a place, might well find some of the things I write to be hard to accept...it would be unfair and plain untruthful if I glossed over what life is like now...and what life was like then. If I never told you the cow or the pig lived with the family...that children walked barefoot to school to save on shoe leather...that women were not allowed to drink in public bars...or that the village priest reigned supreme over his parishioners...the best and brownest egg would be saved for the priests breakfast for instance...even if you had a sickly child who could have eaten it.
So often I'm horribly conscious of a collective sharp intake of breath when I write about rural Ireland then and now...
It's a different country...a different way of living...even the Catholicism is different...
I could always just blog about what we're having for supper...