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*Life in Bygone Days


*Kilballyowen *


Life in Bygone Days

Killian Geaney



This book is about life years ago when my parents and even, my grandparents were young. They told me lots of stories, and how life was very different compared to life today. School, farming, houses, weddings, and funerals were not the same as they are today. In this book, we will see how life has changed.

Going To The Creamery

Farming was very hard. Milk tanks were put on the ass and cart and were taken to the creamery. At the creamery, the milk was weighed and separated. Then, at the other side of the creamery, you got your skin milk back and that would be used to feed the calves. Before the creamery was built, you had to make butter. Some houses had separators, which would separate cream from milk. Butter was then made from cream.

Work On The Farm

Hay was always cut in July. When granddad was younger the hay was cut with a scythe. This was long, hard, back- breaking work. When granddad got older they cut the hay with a mower which was pulled behind a horse. The hay was turned a few days after being cut depending on the weather. Grass cocks were made and you would tram the hay when it was dry. It was then drawn home by a hay cart and made into reeks.

Farmers ploughed the land with two horses and a plough. Potatoes, barley, oats, wheat, turnips and cabbage were sown.

Cutting Turf

Turf cutting was also a big event in the year. The pony and cart would drive twenty miles or more to the bog. The turf was cut by a sleáin. It was then turned after two weeks and two weeks later, it was footed and barrowed out to the road. It was brought all the way home on a donkey and cart. After all this work it was lovely to sit by a nice cosy fire on a cold winter’s night.

House Work

Working around the house was another busy job. My Nana told me of all the work that she did years ago. In the morning, she cleaned the house, washed the dishes, brushed the floors and cleaned the windows. One meal that she cooked was putting a pig’s head in the pot and this was cooked in an open-fire. The bread was cooke in an open fire on a griddle. Nana used a washing board and soap to scrub the clothes. They were then put out on the bushes, as there was no clothesline. An iron bar was put over the fire and the clothes were put on these to air them. Socks, jumpers and cardigans were knitted and they were sewn by hand as there was no machines. The dressmaker made clothes and tailors made suits. These tailors came to the house and made the suits.

Going To School

All children walked to school in all types of weather. In the summer, the children went barefooted. The boys wore short trousers and the girls wore pinafores. The school was not comfortable. There was one big room with two teachers. All classes were in the one room. The children brought turf to school each day and this was put in the open fire. The schools were cold and damp. The children carried their books with a strap around them to keep them together. The children worked on the farm before and after school. If the children were late for school, the teachers would slap them.


People went to the dances every Sunday night and it cost one shilling to get into the dance hall. There were drinks in timber barrels and the men drank stout and the girls drank orange. The men sat on one side of the hall and the ladies sat on the other side. A lot of people played concertinas, fiddles and flutes. There were a lot of good dancers then. People would go on their ‘cuairt’ to other houses. They would play instruments, dance and play cards. People enjoyed the simple life in by gone days!


Weddings were not like the weddings today because there wasn’t a lot of money. Geese were prepared in the houses for the evening meal. A lot of people had weddings on Shrove Tuesday. The ceremony only took five minutes. Then, everyone went back to the groom’s house. There was no such thing as a honeymoon.


All these people only had the simple things in life and worked so hard. Always be grateful for what you get and have and never take anything for granted.


I am dedicating this story to my father who died suddenly last Christmas morning. He helped me with part of this book and I will never forget him.








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County Clare
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