Published in Personal History

From the age of five my mother, her sister and her three brothers would spend four to six long lazy weeks at her Auntie Annie’s farm in the country in the summer.

Her uncle Jack would arrive in his black Morris Minor car and the whole bunch of kids, all five of them, would load into the car and away to the farm. Bearing in mind this was before seatbelt wearing was compulsory and before rear seatbelts were installed in cars!

My mum also had three cousins who lived on the farm – all similar ages to her own siblings. They would spend most of their time outdoors, helping to feed the calves, milking the cows, building haystacks or going to the bog to collect turf. Picking berries was very memorable as the summer sun shone down on them skipping along the hedgerows.

Her auntie used to give all the children a task each morning. My mum’s task was collecting the eggs and then cleaning them ready for the tea that evening.

For fun the children would play hide and seek, cowboys and Indians, build swings and climb the tree house.

The farm had a huge hayshed which the children would climb up to reach the upper floor and then dive down onto the hay below!

On wet days they would “build” a shop in one of the outhouses. They would fill old food jars and tins with sand and turf mould and cover them to look like real tins. They would then set up “shop” and get some of the neighbouring children to come and “spend” their money. They had real lollipops for this transaction.

Another favourite pastime was playing school – the teacher was always very strict but mercifully the school day was kept short.

Night time was always very boisterous. Mum’s older cousin, Catherine was a great story teller. She had a vivid imagination and at bedtime she would have all the other children either crying with laughter or crying with fear depending on the story.

Mum’s auntie Annie was quite religious, and one of the less enjoyable aspects of the holiday was reciting the Rosary every night before bed. Always done on one’s knees, unless you were ill in which case you would be allowed to sit. Sometimes the children would find it difficult to stay serious and end up in fits of giggles. All the children were given turns ringing the church bell before mass on Sunday mornings which was far more enjoyable.

Sadly, the time would come when the children had to return home and leave the farm and all its wonderful adventures. The cousins would arrange a big party usually held outdoors and all the neighbouring children would attend. My Mum and her siblings were given lucky bags with sweets which were munched on the way home; this helped make the journey a little less sad!


Cian Allen-Kiely

15th November 2011


Copyright © 2024 History Publications Ltd, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland | Tel. +353-1-293 3568