Anna is a native of Glencloy, one of the lesser-known of the Nine Glens. A childhood spent between the Braid and Carnlough made Anna’s years growing-up more varied than many other children of her age group.
Anna : I didn’t go to school until I was seven.
Anna: I was kind of a delicate child I think and my mother, there was eight of us, there was eight in the family. Well now I was the fourth one and I used to go up, stay up at the Braid with cousins of my mother’s and I was quite happy up there and I’ve great memories of that. That’s when I learnt my crafts. I learnt to knit and sew. The Braid is half way between here and Ballymena.
Interviewer: Before you went to school?
Anna: Yeah. Those ladies were, to me then they were sort of maiden aunts but when I think about it now, there was a lot of them married … but to me you know they would be in their twenties probably, but in those days girls like that weren’t going out at night or anything and they were all great needle women and they taught me to crochet. I could crochet before I went to school, I could knit and things like that and that would be my memories always, I think that’s where I learnt my love of crafts. I suppose I was a wee girl and I had two brothers that were older than I and my older sister and my mammy used to say that when my older sister went she always kicked up a fuss about coming home again and I didn’t. I always was docile so I got going more than the rest but I did, I spent all my holidays there. The craftwork was something that I grew up with because of that. I was seven at the end of September and I just started term at the beginning of September you know or August whenever we started then. We would have had gone to school, we had less summer holidays, six weeks was all the summer holidays you ever would have got when we were at school.
Interviewer: So you had sort of older role models who you copied?
Anna: Yes that’s right.
Interviewer: And you learnt a lot from them.
Anna: I learnt a lot from them. They were marvellous and there’s a cushion that we do, a cutwork cushion.
Anna: Cut, yes it’s done with a needle and thread but it’s done, it’s cut then and one day, I remember, you get a flash of memory of them doing these cushions and I thought they were lovely. You know I wonder how you do them, I’d forgotten you know. I don’t think I was able to do them then but I went up and Nancy was one of the old ladies who was still alive and I said to Nancy, “Do you remember the old cut work cushions Nancy that you did” and she says, “Aye” she says “I think if I was up at the cist…”, now I don’t know whether you know what a cist would be, a chest, a wooden chest where they kept blankets. You see I can remember them and she says “If I was up at the cist I think I could find one.” So she went to the cist, she found a cushion and she brought it down and I was able to lift the pattern off it. Now I would guarantee there must be at least 20 of those cushions have been done in our craft class since, which I think was lovely, all their own design. Now that was going back 60 years it was or maybe more and it was lovely to think that there had been so many of them was just renewed that way.
Interviewer: How do you mean it’s cut?
Anna: I could show you one. That’s the way they were done. Actually they are squares. The one square is cross-stitch.
Anna: Like that and then the other square is herringbone stitch. And then the herringbone goes over like that and then it’s cut open right down to the first one, the first one there.
Interviewer: I never seen anything like that.
Anna: It was such an old design and it is just one of the memories, I can remember visiting over with one of the neighbours and there was a lot of rivalry would have went on between the ladies you know, and these neighbours would always have quizzed me what my, these friends were doing and I told them that they were doing cutwork cushions. They said what colour was it and they used to tell about me saying two reds and a brown and a green, two reds and a brown and green but they always told about the way I told about what kind of colour of cushions they were doing.
Anna: There was a lot of competition would have gone on. One able to do fancier needlework than the other. Did an awful lot of crochet. Some beautiful fine crochet.
Interviewer: Did the women then use the craft in a way to ceilidh like the men did?
Anna: Yes. The women would have used the crafts. They would have made quiltings. They would have got together and quilted their quilts. They would have had a quilting stand; I can remember the one up in the Braid too. I don’t remember my mother ever having a quilting frame.
Interviewer: So what was it like?
Anna: It was a big wooden thing. It would have been six feet wide and it was on rollers and they rolled the quilt and then they all sewed you know they sat round it and sewed the quilt, hand quilted. Yeah they would have had two ends. And then there would have been rollers and they would have had maybe four feet or three feet of quilt available and then they would have turned it and rolled it round. Still they are coming in again. You see them in some of the craft books now modern versions of them, quilting frames. So we were down in a village down in County Louth and we were in a wee shop, craft shop and they had one in it, a woman was working on it.
Interviewer: A new one or an old one?
Anna: I think it was an old one, it wasn’t a new one.
Interviewer: So does it make the quilting easier when it’s laid out on it?
Anna: Oh yes an awful lot easier.
Interviewer: Because it’s taut.
Anna; It’s taut. Well I would use a, I’ve a round hoop, you know quite a big round hoop about that size and when I would be quilting I would use it on the square that I’m working on.
Interviewer: That’s the wooden thing you kind of screw it in and tighten the material isn’t it?
Interviewer: What’s your favourite craft? Your favourite old one and then your favourite new one?
Anna: Well I think patchwork would be, I would have said maybe a year ago or a year or two ago embroidery but I think patchwork now. I do an awful lot of cross-stitch but I find cross-stitch more a therapy. I couldn’t go to bed at night, I always have to have a piece of cross-stitch sort of sitting and I would do a bit always before I got to bed at night. You’ll find that like such things as patchwork you need a proper place to do, I’ve a room upstairs that I would use as a sewing room but it’s so much easier now than it was. Many a time I wonder how my grandmother, my grandmother did lovely crochet and all the light she had was a candle. I’ve often heard her tell about, and about working to try to gather up, to get a penny to buy a candle so that she could crochet at night. You know when we think now of the spotlights we have and all the things that make it so much simpler.
Interviewer: And the heat and everything.
Anna: The heat and everything. There have been awful changes over the years and I think the biggest change I would find now is the way women are treated. It’s longer coming I think to Northern Ireland, well probably that’s the same as Southern Ireland, it’s longer coming to Ireland than any other place. You know women are treated much more, we’re treated a wee bit more equal now. I can remember when I was a child like my father; my grandmother and my mother just did everything for him. Like my father never polished his own boots I’m sure in his life or never, when he went to shave my mother would have got him the water and the jug or the mug and everything. You know everything was done for them, it was terrible.
Anna: Everything, absolutely everything.
Interviewer: Were the men always right?
Anna: The men were always right and they couldn’t … the idea of them coming in and making their own meal, that would just have been unheard of. Somebody had to be there to make a meal.
Interviewer: Not even a cup of tea?
Anna: Not even a cup of tea. No it was really terrible you know really and like my father was a very kind gentleman he wasn’t like a man who would have been aggressive or have been dominating at all. I think my grandmother even would have spoiled him. She was even only his mother-in-law but she lived with us. She would have spoiled him even more than … my mother probably hadn’t as much time, she had eight children. When she put her time over them all I don’t know how she did it. Many a time I wondered … now on wash day you know my mother would have had these great big piles and the only way she had, she had to put on a bath on to the top of the, well we then had a stove but there was a bath put on and the water was heated in that bath for washing and in good weather she would have washed outside. She would have stood and scrubbed for hours at clothes. It was terrible.
Interviewer: So the women did all this craft and stuff but it was just probably a luxury?
Anna: Oh yes that was a luxury. My mother wouldn’t have done in her younger, like when I remember her as a child, my mother hadn’t time. She would have made us clothes maybe. She would have made nearly all our clothes but she wouldn’t have had time to have done fancywork at all. She did in later years when things got easier and the family grew up. She was very handy, like was good at it but she just wouldn’t have had time then and my grandmother was the same. My grandmother, they had a small farm over across the Glen and my grandmother’s husband died when she was only ten years married and he left her with three wee girls of nine, six and four and she reared them and did all her own work and she never had time for anything but she was a good needle women and she started to embroider when she was 70 and like we all have, came up to us but she embroidered for us and she was a wonderful old woman but like she had a hard, hard life.
Interviewer: How did she maintain the land, keep the house?
Anna: She kept her own sheep and she did all her own work. She did that, she did everything.
Interviewer: Were women allowed, was the farm left to her, was that allowed to be?
Anna: Well her husband, you see it was her husband’s and when he died it was left to her and then my father came in and married, he came in and he bought the farm from his mother-in-law.
Interviewer: So what must it have been like for women whose husbands were …
Anna: Yes … Dominating … and bad to them just, simply bad to them. It must have been bad. Like I’ve never known because as I say my father was a very kind man, a very caring man for all his family but it must have been pretty hard.
Interviewer: I’m sure there was no such thing as divorce.
Anna: There was no such thing as divorce and there was no such thing as taking them to court for abuse or maintenance or anything else. I think that’s maybe gone a wee bit too far the other way now. I was saying that I think we’re just on a nice level keel at the minute if we would just keep like that and not push it too far the other way.
Interviewer: So your earliest memories are in this house with mostly women.
Anna: Yes. Well there was two men as well. There is one of them still living, there is one of the ladies still living but the rest are all dead but like that woman is in her nineties.
Interviewer: Does she still sew?
Anna: She does. She makes those; she has done all her grandchildren two matching cushions like that. She was down one night not terribly long ago visiting and she had said that she had done all her grandchildren, grand-daughters, she had quite a lot of grand-daughters, she had four daughters of her own and then she had all grand-daughters and she had done them all cushions.
Interviewer: What was your first day at school like? Do you remember your first day?
Anna: I don’t, I can vaguely. I remember going with my sister. She was six years older than me because there was two boys between us and I remember them letting me sit with her in the, what they called the Master’s room for the first day but I always liked school. I did like the school always and like I can remember being very scared.
Interviewer: Were you?
Anna: I was terrified, but I think I soon got over that and I always like school.
Interviewer: What school did you go to?
Anna: Carnlough Primary and then I went to Larne Grammar School.
Interviewer: Where did you actually grow up? Is this the house you grew up in?
Anna: No, no, across the Glen, it’s just about a mile across the Glen.
Interviewer: Is that near the quarries?
Anna: Yes above the quarries, you went up the Waterfall Road up to above the quarries. I have a nephew lives there now. You see this is … all lanes that runs to the village.
Anna: From up and this is the Whitehill Road and the next one is the Waterfall Road and then the next one would be up the Croft Road and up Cambelltown. We would be more to the other edge of the quarry.
Anna: Have you heard of the peat work house?
Interviewer: Peat work?
Anna: Aye there was the old peat workhouse. It was pre-war and they had a big industry went at it and the turf was all took down on wagon to the boats. I think it was iodine it was used to make, the chemical company. Carnlough Chemical Company it was called and there was a wagon thing you know on the line went up, the full ones going down took the empty ones up and a lot of people worked at it and there’s a big old end of the house still remaining, that apparently was the dining hall and that’s away back in the mountain there and it cut this turf and apparently it was a German firm had it and in the war in 1912-1914 they had to leave and fold it up then.
Interviewer: And there’s still part of that wall remaining, is there?
Anna: There’s still part of that wall remaining. You would see it from the Waterfall Road. It’s in a hollow. Although it’s actually here, this is Harphall; the lime came down my husband’s ground. That’s going back before my day. My mother, my grandmother actually supplied what they called the big house. There was a Manager’s house down on the Waterfall Road and it’s an old ruin now. It was a wooden house. It was a lovely house. It was the Youth Hostel at a time and it was lovely and my grandmother supplied them with their milk and butter and eggs. I think that was how she managed to carry on. When her husband died.
Interviewer: What was that house called?
Anna: It was just Drumahoe. Drumahoe and it was a wooden house. It would have been, it belonged to the Legges of Carnlough on their ground and then there was another one but it’s all gone now completely. The old remains of Drumahoe are still, I wonder, it was burned I think last year. I haven’t been over lately but there was another one, there was four cottages and there were people that worked in it lived in them. They were for the workers but they’re all gone now.
Interviewer: So what was it like going to school?
Anna: We had a mile and a half to walk to school and a very … now when you think about it you wouldn’t let your children walk at all. It was a very, very dangerous road. There is one place that goes down between the two quarries, the two old quarries and there’s only the width of the road kind of between and we used to have some hairy sessions, I remember my brother sitting with his feet over the edge of the quarry to terrify the rest of us. The things that you got up to, it’s amazing that we all survived.
Interviewer: I know.
Anna: Actually up that road there was three sixes of us. There was six of us, six of a McVeigh family and six of a McNeill family and the McVeigh’s and us were Protestant families and the McNeill’s were Roman Catholics and of course there was a many a mouthful but we daren’t one of us went home and said you know I fell out with so and so, you daren’t, you knew that because you would be in serious trouble. You weren’t allowed to fight at all. You know it’s just such a different way now and we walked and we had all walked home from school together and down in the morning. We used, we would have took a wee short cut down a field and if you were down you left a white stone on this wee stile that you went over so that the ones behind knew you were away and then they hurried to catch up with you but we’d that mile and a half to walk. It wasn’t bad going to the village school but when I started going to the Grammar School in Larne the travelling and that was wartime. I was going during the war to Grammar School and you know you left in the morning and walked, it was pitch dark because it was … you know the way the time changed during that time and it was dark and that road went down past the whitening mill, what used to be the whitening mill and it was working then.
Interviewer: Where’s that?
Anna: It was over now where that new carpark is, where the Centre is, where the Glenlough Community Centre is, that was, there was a Whitening Mill there. Well that was the Whitening Mill and they worked, that was working but you see the quarry was working then and that Whitening Mill the road was always white with that whiteness and you got it on your shoes and your stockings and everything. You really did, I think that was the only time that I really realised that you were second class citizens nearly, compared with the children coming out of the town and you had such an early start. You were leaving home every morning, I think our bus went at a quarter to eight and it took nearly half an hour to walk and you weren’t home until after dark at night. It was just an existence rather than a life.
Interviewer: What age were you?
Anna: Well I went until I was 18, it was Junior and Senior Certificate then you did.
Interviewer: Do you remember the people that worked in the quarry?
Anna: Oh yes. Two of my brothers worked in the quarry. At a time but I remember like the older, I remember one man who we knew well being killed in the quarry.
Interviewer: What happened?
Anna: They had put, you know they put dynamite in every evening at a certain time and blew up to get, to make the stones loose and I always heard them saying, oh I was only a child at school at the time that it was a wee stone about the size of your hand that come down and hit him on the head and he was killed. I can remember that very, very well. I was terrified. Things like that was very scary.
Interviewer: When you were at school, you said you liked it. Were the teachers nice?
Anna: Some of them were and some of them weren’t. We had a Mrs McGavock. She was a long time, I think she was in the Junior School all the time I was there, she was and she was good too, she was kind you know and she was good and when we would have went in wet in the morning she would have got you sit up to the fire to get dried and she made us cocoa at lunch-time for our lunch and things like that.
Interviewer: Discipline, what did they do?
Anna: Discipline, yes and they were very keen on the cane.
Interviewer: Was that the only way they hit you with a cane?
Anna: Oh yes, yes. I didn’t very often get hit.
Interviewer: Were you good?
Anna: I was reasonable.
Interviewer: What did you do at lunchtime? You didn’t get school dinners?
Anna: Oh no school dinners and I can remember occasionally if my mother hadn’t have had bread you know to make lunch she would have given some of the older ones money to go and it was a currant bun, you know one of those currant buns and they would have come up and just broke it among you and you got a bit of that currant bun that was your lunch.
Interviewer: No milk or anything?
Anna: No milk in those days, no. Mrs McGavock would have made, I think I can remember her making cocoa, I think it was in the wintertime maybe just. There was no fizzy drinks either or no lemonade. Well it wasn’t war time; I was left the village school just the year the war started I think.
Interviewer: Where was the local store?
Anna: Ouch well there was lots of, there was two shops down the main street, Willie McNeills and Paddy Donnelly’s. Now Paddy Donnelly’s I think would be where Darraghs, you know where Darraghs Ice Cream Shop is?
Anna: I think that was Paddy Donnelly’s and Willie McNeills would have been on down, a wee bit further down. It’s not a shop now; there’s no shop there now.
Interviewer: Right. Where was it at?
Anna: Let’s see now where, it must have been where, do you know where the, what we call Hessies, it was a cafe for a wee while, I don’t know what it is now, whether it’s anything. It was a shoe shop for it started, when Willie McNeill sold it he sold to these people Wilsons and they had a shoe shop in it but then they sold it. I don’t know who has it now or what it is. I know it’s not a, I think there’s girls in it have something to do with orienteering … I don’t know what they are.
Interviewer: Outdoor activities.
Anna: Outdoor activities kind of thing. But there was a wee shop on the back street now, what we called the back street, it was the High Street, there was a wee shop there where you got your sweets. One of the memories I have is of my brother, the one that’s older than me going in and asking for a ha’penny worth of cock’s eggs.
Interviewer: What were they?
Anna: She was a wee ould woman she was called Mary Campbell and she said, "under God has the cock begun to lay". Cocks eggs were sugared almonds; you know what sugared almonds were like?
Anna: They were cock’s eggs, in other words rooster’s eggs.
Interviewer: Did you go bare foot to school in the summer?
Anna: No I don’t think I’ve ever went bare feet unless it was on my own wish. We would always have had shoes. I do know of my father maybe having to take a calf and sell it to get money to buy somebody shoes you know maybe before he wanted to sell because money was scarce. I often say that I never knew what it was either to be cold or hungry because of want. If you were either cold or hungry it was your own fault it was because you didn’t come for your tea or because you went out in the rain or something but you know not because of want.
Interviewer: So what did you have for your breakfast when you were wee?
Anna: Well as I say half an egg. You know my mother, here would have been a fry in our house say every morning, every morning there would have been something. Sometimes there would have been, well they would have killed a pig probably every winter and that would have been cured and there usually was a wee bit of bacon and I say eggs were scarce so there would be one divided between two of you and my mother always baked, my mother would have baked a ten stone, the size of a ten stone bag of flour every week. It would be, well ten stone, a twelve pound bag would be like that, that wouldn’t be a stone, there would have been about ten or twelve of those bags, she would have made that much flour. My father would have went every week and bought a ten stone bag of flour.
Interviewer: And she baked that every week?
Anna: She baked that every week.
Interviewer: Was this on the griddle?
Anna: Griddle, aye griddle soda and wheaten and fadge, lots of fadge and soda and wheaten and that. There wouldn’t have been a lot of fancy stuff. She would bake, at the weekends she would always have baked, I can see them yet, she baked two kinds, she would have baked what we would call slims now, you know that sweet soda bread with currants in it and she would have baked what we would called hard scones and they were just like, nearly like a biscuit but they were baked on the griddle.
Anna: They were lovely.
Interviewer: So from you were young did you have to help your mother cook or did your older sister help?
Anna: Well my older sister would help. I was the lazy one of us; they used to say that. I would always have my nose in a book if it was possible and things like that but my sister worked very hard. She is six years older than me and she did work very hard always. Always had to, in the summer time you had to work, I had to help my daddy in the hay field and things like that.
Interviewer: The idea and concept of farming as a community, do you think that involved a lot of the socialising.
Anna: Aye. They called that neighbouring, when you neighboured with somebody to do something. Maybe their horses and your horses, you would have got them together to dig potatoes and things like that. That would have been more, our farm would have been smaller here when I came here, I’m 50 years here.
Interviewer: From when you got married?
Anna: From I got married and they would have been bigger farmers and they would have you know neighboured things more maybe.
Anna: At home my father would have been inclined to have done most of it on his own. You had enough cows to keep you in milk and mother occasionally would have had a wee bit of butter to sell maybe at a time of year when the cows would have been milking. There was eleven in the house, 8 children, my father and mother and grandmother.
Interviewer: Did she have turkeys?
Anna: She did, she kept a few turkeys and hens and ducks and then they went into pigs and that sort, pigs sort of came in and helped a bit.
Interviewer: Did your grandmother talk to you much about when she was young and her lifestyle and her family?
Anna: Well she would have. Her mother died when she was born. She was maybe only four or something when her mother died and again it was always an interesting story I thought when I think about it all now her mother went out to what they called the spout, the water ran by the side of the house, you know a burn, and there was a spout and her mother went out to the spout, now her daughter was born in the month of June and she went out to the spout to rinse the clothes, the nappies.
Anna: I suppose it would be pieces of cloth then when the baby was only a week old and they said she got a chill and she started haemorrhaging … she wasn’t properly looked after and she died and then her father was married again and there was my grandmother and one brother, there was just the two of them and then he married and the stepmother was really bad to them. My grandmother tells her stories about her stepmother.
Anna: Hard, hard upbringing and it turned out that in later years before she died they discovered she had TB as a child in her early teen years.
Interviewer: She didn’t know about it?
Anna: She didn’t know about it. She recovered of it and it was only when she was quite elderly you know maybe over 80 that they discovered that she had had it. I always said it probably gave us children a good immunity to it.
Interviewer: So where did your granny grow up?
Anna: In the Braid, she grew up in the Braid.
Interviewer: And that’s your mother’s …
Anna: My mother’s mother.
Interviewer: Your father’s mother ….
Anna: My father’s mother, they came from the Braid too actually and they lived up and they all came from the Braid originally. My grandfather bought that place over there when he was married and that’s when my grandmother came to it over in the Waterfall Road.
Interviewer: What age did your granny and granddad get married at?
Anna: My granddad, I think my granddad was 40, my grandmother was 28. My grandmother, and my mother was her first daughter and their birthdays were on the same day.
Anna: And her husband and their third daughter actually their birthdays were on the same day. That was amazing coincidence. My grandmother and my mother were born on the 12 of June. My mother was born in 1899, she just died three years ago. She was 96 when she died.
Interviewer: Did she?
Anna: She lived until she was 96. I often say that, they talk about all the care that people get now and my mother she never was in hospital her life until she was over 70.
Interviewer: Eight children.
Anna: And she had eight children and she probably never spent a day in bed.
Interviewer: Amazing woman.
Anna: But that’s what she was, 96.
Interviewer: And she died three years ago.
Anna: We often say that none of us will ever see it but you never know. I don’t really know that I would want to either. She was fine up until about three years before she died. My mother, her memory you could have asked her anything and she could have remembered everything but just about three years before she died she would have started getting these strokes you know. She was marvellous. We used to laugh at her. They keep me going when I start telling something about, ask about what age somebody was and my mother could have started oh I mind being down with such and a one and them getting their arm done as they talked about, being vaccinated. The children you know were all vaccinated then, getting their arm done and such and a body was in and she had that wean and that was such and an age. She could have went over this. I find myself now doing the same thing when somebody asks me about what age somebody else is and you relate it to something like that. I don’t know, I often when I listen, I have two sisters and when they start talking about things it’s only now that, there was quite a long time I wasn’t interested in going back I just wanted to get on with life but I find myself now being more interested in going back, reminiscing and all that.
Interviewer: Your mother must have told you brilliant stories?
Anna: Aye my mother she was, my mother was, she would have made an actress nearly. When she went to visit somebody she could have come home again and she could have imitated their accent just you would have thought it was them talking. She was really good at it. We had a friend that lived in Glenarm she was a Scottish lady and she could have come back from it and you would have thought it was this woman talking and she was really good like that and she had a marvellous memory too.
Interviewer: Did she go to the same school as you?
Anna: She did, she went to the same school.
Interviewer: How old is that school?
Anna: Well my mother would have went to school I suppose in the early 1900’s. I’m not sure, I know it wasn’t a terrible time opened then.
Interviewer: Were you sad to leave Primary School?
Anna: I think I was quite excited about going to Secondary School. We did Scholarships then. I got a Scholarship to a Grammar School. There was three, the Education Board gave three Scholarships I think every year for somebody like to go to Grammar School and I got a Scholarship and I think I was quite delighted about that.
Anna: There was very few people in those days went to Secondary School.
Interviewer: Well coming from Carnlough and going to Larne, how did you feel?
Anna: You felt countrified, I think.
Interviewer: Did you?
Anna: Yes. Well there was quite a number of country children maybe there and you were inclined to gravitate towards them.
Anna: Rather than to the town children especially when you went first but I think that still happens because I know my children, my oldest two girls went to the Grammar School in Larne and they younger ones went to Ballymena Academy and I know they made their friends from their own sort of social backgrounds rather than different backgrounds. They would be inclined towards the farming community and towards their own sort of social background.
Interviewer: Do you think the kids weren’t as easy going as you?
Anna: They were, no I wouldn’t say it wasn’t as easy going. They are far more sure of themselves. We lacked an assurance.
Anna: Confidence. You know, we did lack in confidence. I think, what I find the biggest difference from me I found was when I was in Carnlough School I was nearly always top of my class. I didn’t find anything a problem whereas when I went to the Grammar School you were on a different, there was people far smarter than you. I think that was the biggest difference you find.
Interviewer: You are starting all over again.
Anna: Starting all over again. I liked school always. I liked the Grammar School too, parts of it. Some things I didn’t like. I never, like I never was musical and I always found that a problem but that’s something you learn to live with as you get older. You begin to say to yourself well you can’t have everything.
Interviewer: I know but you were made to sing then weren’t you?
Anna: You were made to sing then. It was a nightmare and funny my family there was none of them musical and they all find the same thing. The older ones when they were at Primary School, I’ve one girl she quite a bit younger than the rest and she was sort of out of that generation.
Anna: There was 17 years between my first girl and my last one and it was two different families, two different lifestyles I found when they were at school.
Interviewer: And you were still, I suppose you were still the mother and you noticed it.
Anna: It noticed it very much along, the different just you know in life in those 17 years.
Interviewer: Did you wear a uniform to Larne Grammar?
Anna: We did. I think you quite liked it because it made you the same as other people. You didn’t have this business of oh my clothes are far better than yours. I think school uniform; I’m all on for school uniform because of that. I think it brings everybody to the same level.
Interviewer: What was your favourite subject?
Anna: I like maths, I always liked maths. I liked history and geography to, not art nor music.
Interviewer: Not art either?
Anna: No. It was awful funny, I always said that. I think they put the idea of having any artistic ability of me when I was a child.
Anna: With the result it was only in recent years that I have discovered that I have artistic ability.
Interviewer: What a shame.
Anna: You know. I think it was a friend in Carnlough here when the Women’s Institute started, I said I’ve no artistic ability at all, she said … I remember her sitting down and saying "look Anna you have artistic ability. The things that you can do, that is artistic ability". She says, "you may not be able to lift a pencil and draw but you can do other things and that’s …", I’ve begun to think of that now myself you know … but I think it was put out of you when you were a child when you either could draw or you couldn’t draw. I do these bread flowers. Bread flowers made from bread. They’re just like wee roses.
Interviewer: And do they keep?
Oh yes they keep for ever. You put stuff in them.
Have you got any of your wee bread flowers?
Aye I must show you some flowers. I’m doing Christmas decorations at a Church do we’re having. I was making these for to sell at it. They’re made from; you take five slices of loaf, just ordinary white loaf bread.
And you put some, you know Evostick Wood, Evostick Wood it’s a glue, it’s wood adhesive, it’s a white one and you put it in and then some paint but you a teaspoonful of stuff call sodium benzoate it’s just a preservative and a wee drop of water and you just make it into a paste like plastercine and then make wee flowers. Aye. I like roses. I would make roses more than anything else because I find roses is the easiest to do. I think they’re the nicest.
Interviewer: Do they keep forever?
Anna: No I’m not sure about maybe in a bathroom or a kitchen where there would be a lot of steam.
Anna: It might, I don’t know I’ve ever seen any of them ever disintegrate.
Interviewer: Where did you get the idea?
Anna: There’s a place down in Drogheda, and they do adult education classes down there and it’s the ICA owns it, the Irish Countrywomen’s Association which is the equivalent of the Women’s Institute in the North.
Interviewer: I’m sure you could make more than just flowers out of it too.
Anna: Oh I’m sure you could but my daughter does dough, things from dough. She does some lovely plaques and things from dough but you have to bake it. You don’t have to bake those. Once you, you just set them in that and then they sit for about 24 hours they harden and that’s them for keeps. I just, occasionally, I would have varnished them with clear nail varnish and made them shine and they just looked like china but I quite like them just the natural thing.
Interviewer: Especially if they keep that way anyway.
Anna: Oh they keep fine. I know our craft class did them two years ago and I see like my friends would have wee bowls sitting on their windows yet.
Interviewer: That’s a great idea. Is this for your Church?
Interviewer: Are these wee dewdrops?
Anna: That stuff you buy it’s called dimensions. It’s a wee bottle of stuff and you put a drop on to make it look like dewdrops.
Anna: It is very time consuming.
Interviewer: Do you think Carnlough has changed a lot?
Anna: Oh yes, oh yes Carnlough has changed a lot.
Interviewer: In what way?
Anna: More houses.
Interviewer: What did you used to only see when you looked out here?
Anna: Well there was none of the, there was nothing, do you see all those houses there?
Anna: Do you see the big pink house that was always there?
Anna: At the trees, that was always there but there was none, there wasn’t another, hardly a house there. The Croft, the first row that was built was the Croft and they were Council houses and they were built just after the war.
Anna: And every one of those houses would have been built since that. There is not many built, you see this other one this is a green belt, there’s a green belt goes the other way, they’re not allowed to build. I can remember some of those ones away at South Bay being built.
Interviewer: The white ones.
Anna: Mmhmm. I can remember some of them being built. Well the old resident ones haven’t really changed.
Interviewer: Did you not help much on the farm, no?
Anna: Well probably because I was a girl and I had two brothers older and two brothers younger and I was sort of in between there and I just sort of seemed to always have my nose in books. I was a very keen reader and my grandmother thought reading was an awful waste of time.
Interviewer: Did she?
Anna: Oh yes. She didn’t approve of reading. Like she thought it was a waste of time. You had to hide when you wanted to read. If you had something you had to go and hide whereas now we are encouraging the children to read and I can remember you know having to do your homework at the kitchen table and maybe my granny was baking she wouldn’t be one bit particular, she would have splashed you maybe with a drop of buttermilk or something. You know it was an entirely different way of life, trying to do homework and things like that and you know you had very little help. Nobody had time.
Interviewer: So what happens with four boys on one farm.
Anna: Oh they all went to work.
Interviewer: Did they?
Anna: That brother and the one that’s next to me went to Canada when he was about 18, the next one my youngest brother David was lost on the Princess Victoria. You’ve heard of the disaster of the Princess Victoria?
Anna: He was working over in Scotland and he was coming home to see my brother who was going to Canada that day. It was the second boy who did the farming. The oldest brother he started, he got a job he worked in the quarry and then he went to the GCE in Larne or what was BTH when it opened and he went to live in Larne he wanted to get married. Then my second brother he farmed and it’s his son that is now farming.
Interviewer: Right. So it’s still in the family.
Anna: Oh aye it is still in the family.
Interviewer: So what age were you when you got married?
Anna: I was 21. A day off my 22nd birthday. That was sort of the age when people were inclined to get married then.
Interviewer: Where did you meet your husband?
Anna: Oh we went to school together, he was five years older than me but we all went to school and went to church. He lived here, this was his home. He was actually in the same class as my oldest sister.
Interviewer: Did you have a big wedding?
Anna: We were married in 1949 and the war wasn’t long over and there was still rationing. Clothes rationing and you couldn’t, I was one of the last who didn’t get married in a wedding dress you know as such. I got married in a suit.
Interviewer: Did your mother make the suit?
Anna: No she didn’t. It was a friend, a dressmaker girl who was a friend of mine made it because in those days you had to have something that you were going to get a bit of wear out of. You couldn’t afford the coupons and everything to get the clothes. I remember like saving up and my family helping me saving up coupons to get the material even for my wedding suit and I can remember that day Willie McNeill’s the shop gathering up the fruit for me for baking my wedding cake.
Interviewer: On the day?
Anna: You had to gather up coupons for dried fruit, like raisins and sultanas and stuff like that.
Interviewer: Did you get married in the Village then just down in that Church?
Anna: I was married in Cushendall actually.
Interviewer: Were you?
Anna: The Free Presbyterian, do you know the wee Presbyterian Church down there towards the Golf Course?
Interviewer: Shore Road?
Anna: Down the Shore Road. My father and mother were married there and I was married and all my girls have been married there.
Anna: My four daughters are married, or three of my daughters are married, one of them isn’t but they were all married down there to. We liked; we always loved that wee Church. It’s very quiet. It’s only open now for a couple of months in the summer time. We had a service in it July and August. It’s combined with Carnlough; it’s Carnlough and Cushendall. There would be weddings in it still. A couple of my nieces was married in it not so very long ago. It’s lovely. My daughter was married and she got the photographer to go down to the beach there. It was a beautiful wedding.
Interviewer: Do you call yourself a Glens person.
Anna: Oh yes, oh yes but not as much I think, I think you would go to Glenariffe before you would get people to really think of themselves as Glens people.
Interviewer: Why is that then?
Anna: I don’t know why that is. Glenarm, Carnlough and Glencloy I think don’t incline to think of themselves as members of the Glens the same. I would but then that’s because I think I’m a country person and the Glens mean an awful lot to me. I love the Glens and I think that, you would find that a lot of Carnlough people if you asked them if they were Glens people some of them just wouldn’t think about it. You do find that.
Interviewer: But you would say you’re from Carnlough you wouldn’t say you’re from Glencloy.
Anna: No I’d say from Carnlough right enough.
Interviewer: Even though you live right up in the Glen.
Anna: Yes. I live in Glencloy but I think, people, if you said you were from Glencloy people wouldn’t know where Glencloy was whereas they would automatically know where Glenariffe was. I think Glenariffe would be the best known of the Glens.
Anna: I think so.
Interviewer: But I think Glencloy is very nice as well.
Anna: Oh it is, it’s different but again the people, you’re getting into more of an urban people I think when you would come here.
Interviewer: Yeah there is some kind of change when you come round Garron Point.
Anna: There is. There is definitely a change when you come round Garron Point. You don’t get … the Glens people are so kindly and so laid back, you know they’re far more laid back I think. We wouldn’t be as inclined; we wouldn’t be as laid back as the Glens people would.
Interviewer: Right. More of the Scottish influence.
Anna: More of the Scottish influence.
Interviewer: I think the accent down here is very interesting, the dialect.
Anna: Do you? Well now you see I wouldn’t have a Carnlough accent, I would be the Braid. I would be veering towards Ballymena accent more than Carnlough. I think that was because I was so well … my father and mother come from the Braid and I have been more associated with the Braid.
Interviewer: And your husband, what type of accent did he have?
Anna: He would have had more a Carnlough, he was born and reared here but again he was, his father came from Carnalbanagh.
Interviewer: Oh yes.
Anna: Again a different part of the country, more the country, the Braid accent.
Interviewer: That’s an interesting accent.
Anna: It is. It think it’s terrible when you hear now, those friends of ours up in the Braid the younger generation of them have gone to school in Ballymena you know and all the rest of it and they’re losing the old words that their mother, you know she talked about words that now that are gone completely and it’s the same with us all here too. My grandmother would have said words, there was one day we were talking about something and we were talking about "galravaging". My granny would have talked about "come in and quit galravaging about there". It was gallivanting and ravishing I think when you put them together. You know it was gallivanting especially on a Sunday if we had been all out making an awful noise you see that was, you were breaking the Sabbath Day like you know that wasn’t, but we weren’t terribly, but my grandmother would have been religious but like my father and mother wouldn’t have worried too much.
Anna: But she would have come out and let and shout at us about us coming in "stop galravaging" and we were talking about who had ever heard anybody use this word and there was only two or three of us had ever heard of this word.
Anna is a native of Glencloy, one of the lesser-known of the Nine Glens. A childhood spent between the Braid and Carnlough made Anna’s years growing-up more varied than many other children of her age group.