Reflections on the Past

At the turn of the twentieth century and probably before that, St. Brendan’s Church, Corrandulla had two side altars. One was adorned with a picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel where Mrs. Frances Butler, Winterfield House, Tonagurrane prayed. This altar was situated near where the commemorative window to the late Fr. P.V. O’Brien is today. In later times that same picture was hanging in the then childrens’ corner until the 1970s. Across the aisle, where the window dedicated to St. Francis is now, Mrs. Helen Blake, Cregg Castle had a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on her altar. That picture has lingered on and can be seen today hanging on your left as you enter the church by the side door. Those two altars were beautifully adorned with golden-laced cloths, shining candle holders with lighted candles and of course flowers of the fairest. During Mass those two ladies would be praying with their backs to each other and side on to the rest of the congregation. Meanwhile the Reverend celebrant would be on the altar with his back to everyone.

Was There a Famine in the West of Ireland in 1925?

The early years of the Irish Free State were full of turmoil, beginning with the conflict between Pro- and Anti-Treaty factions which we know as the Civil War. After the cessation of hostilities in May of 1923, the country was in a ruinous state, with many roads and bridges blown up and in general disrepair. Cumann na nGaedheal was the party in government, with only the Labour Party in opposition due to the abstention of Sinn F\’ein. The financial situation was also dire, and the Government responded with austerity; cutting the old age pension by 10%, introducing a 7 day working week and slashing the wages of farm labourers by 16%. This latter tactic highlighted an objective of the Government which was to support the big farmers, with the aim that agricultural production would be the driving force behind economic recovery.

Big Deal

When we were children in the 1950’s, one of the red-letter days was St. John’s Day, better known as Bonefire Night. There was much excitement and great competition among we school children as to which group would have the biggest, brightest fire. For several days before the much-awaited night, the whole place would be a hive of activity collecting fuel for the fire. Some people contributed turf, more gave scraps of timber, but the most prized material of all was Bog Deal. Bog deal is the remains of the forests of Ireland that covered the country many years ago. There was an abundance of it in the local bogs close to where we lived, namely Barana, and other townlands around the district. To a child’s eye catching a glimpse of these ancient forms bursting through the bog land, would resemble the backdrop of a ghost story. Some had grotesque shapes and were extraordinarily heavy to carry, so the donkey and cart would be brought into service to assist with the collection of the more awkward specimens. Sometimes our group of gatherers would get lemonade and sweets, but always we had a great time heaving and pulling these giant forms from our bog lands.