Interview with Brigid

Brigid was born in the early 1900s in Glenann, both of her parents came from the Middle Glens. Glenann is one of the lesser-known of the nine glens yet its winding road leads to spectacular views of Orra Mountain and stretches of rough, unspoilt countryside. The local school is tucked in at the side of the road near the bottom of the glen.
Interviewer: So were you the youngest or the oldest?
Brigid: I was sixth in a family of eight.I grew up, I was born in Glenann. Above the school. Past the bridge. That’s just up a bit. I don’t know whether you see it well from the road now. There’s bushes growing.
Interviewer: Were you born in that house?
Brigid: Yes.
Interviewer: What year was that?
Brigid: 1904. Greenvalley.
Interviewer: What school did you go to?
Brigid: I went to Glenann School.
Interviewer: Did you start school about age five or six was it?
Brigid: I thought I was younger. I heard them saying I was six when I went to school. I thought I was younger really, five or six. You know we hadn’t very far to go. We had to cross the bridge. You know it wasn’t a proper bridge just a big plank really. Over the river at that time. The teacher she used to come up for a cup of coffee.
Interviewer: And what was the school like, was it partitioned?
Brigid: One big room. No it wasn’t partitioned, no.
Interviewer: Was it a big school?
Brigid: Well now the average would be I’m sure about 70 anyhow.
Interviewer: Really.
Brigid: Oh yes it was always about 70. We had a very good teacher Master Black.
Interviewer: What is your earliest memory before you went to school?
Brigid: There was a girl that lived across the road from us she was older than me. She used to come over to play and my younger sister was out with her and she wanted to comb her hair and she told her to go in for a comb and what did she come out with was a big coal and tongs. How she got out with it without anybody seeing. We were in the trunk of a tree and started to light a fire. I don’t think we got the fire going. We baked mud pies.
Interviewer: Did you?
Brigid: And that woman I hadn’t seen her for years and that was the first thing she recalled. Mud pies. But how she got out with a burnt coal, you know a turf coal. And tongs without her being captured. For my mother wouldn’t have let her out.
Interviewer: Did your mother make a lot of different types of food?
Brigid: We had a open fire. Turf fire. Oh I used to think the food was lovely.
Interviewer: What type of things did she make, soda?
Brigid: Soda bread and she would have made oaten cake.
Interviewer: Oaten cake.
Brigid: It was like, you know… so thin.
Interviewer: How did you make oaten bread?
Brigid: You never heard of it? Well it’s oatmeal but I never made it myself. It is not everybody that could have made it. It was very thin and then she would stand it up at the side of the fire to dry out.
Interviewer: Visiting gave people the chance to exchange information, gossip and to socialise, ceilidh-ing, as it was called, meant doors were un-locked and there was usually a very warm welcome. Did people visit each other?
Brigid: You would have got ceilidhers they called them. Neighbouring men. Would come in and women make friends. Anybody passing just came in too.
Interviewer: Was it just like every night or was it only at weekends?
Brigid: Not many came every night. There was a man, he used to come because they all didn’t get a daily paper you see.
Interviewer: Right.
Brigid: Visited my father and discuss politics and the day and so on. My father had a great memory and he was very intelligent.
Brigid: Yes. Although his parents died young and he didn’t getting on to school. He went to night school in Ballycastle.
Interviewer: Did they have night classes then?
Brigid: They did have. Even though there was not much money Christmas time was still special, children looked forward to it with excitement.
Interviewer: What did you get at Christmas time?
Brigid: We wouldn’t have got money.
Interviewer: No.
Brigid: We used to lot forward to Santa Claus. We believed in Santa. And when you were young you trembled in case you would get nothing. But you know they would say it to you if you were bad. Santa will not come and then you had a sort of fear that he wouldn’t come. We were innocent in those times.
Interviewer: What type of things did you get for Christmas, presents?
Brigid: You very often we got something useful.
Interviewer: Did you not get toys, no?
Brigid: Well I suppose an odd time you would get a few toys. No they wouldn’t have put a lot of money into toys. There were big families then you know.
Interviewer: No money.
Brigid: Little employment for anyone that had to work you know. The family lived on a farm, families in those days were almost self-sufficient, producing much of the foodstuffs which fed the family.
Interviewer: Did you just have animals or did you have crops?
Brigid: We had crops and animals both.
Interviewer: What type of crops?
Brigid: We had a farm down Glenann and then my father later bought one on the Cushendun Road.
Interviewer: Right. And did all the fields have name?
Brigid: Some of the fields had names. For instance Greenvalley. They called it Greenvalley because there was people lived in it when my father bought it. And they came back from America and they always called them the Greenvalleys.
Interviewer: Are there no Irish names, no?
Brigid: Oh there is Irish names but I couldn’t remember. There is one field Branagh.
Interviewer: Branagh.
Brigid: And that, there’s a cave in that and that was because one time Father Brannagh took, I think he had to take shelter in the caves you know in penal times and as well as that there was a mighty stone outside our house and it was supposed to be taken down from further up there… what they called a burn.
Interviewer: Yes.
Brigid: A stream and you know it was a very sheltered place I think. People would have heard mass there at one time but that was away before my time. Then you know the one at Cregagh, Cushendun.
Interviewer: Yes that’s right.
Brigid: They still have a procession at it.
Interviewer: Do you think there was more families in Glenann now?
Brigid: Probably there are more now. Wait to we see now. There was a couple of families went to America in my young days.
Interviewer: Did they? Do you ever remember any stories about The Famine?
Brigid: No I never heard them saying a lot about it.There was supposed to be one woman died at the head of Glenann. She was eating grass. I don’t know if that was really true or not.
Interviewer: Do you remember, did you ever meet your grandparents?
Brigid: I don’t remember my grandparents. Because I remember somebody saying that the older generations, you know your parents generation they would have, a lot more of them would have spoken Irish.
Interviewer: Yeah. Did he speak Glens Gaelic?
Brigid: I don’t remember them talking Glens Gaelic. They talked about Scottish. But I heard them talk about Scottish Gaelic. I’m sorry I didn’t learn it. You know it would be no good as regards getting a job or anything. So you didn’t think of it. You had to learn english. The teacher taught us a bit of Latin.
Interviewer: But Latin isn’t much good either is it?
Brigid: No. Unless you’re going for the Church.

Interviewer: Were there any soldiers stationed near here during the First World War?
Brigid: I don’t think that there was any of them. Later on there was soldiers. There was two fellows shot. That was 1922. In 1922 three young men were shot dead by the ‘Black and Tans’ in Cushendall.
Interviewer: Was that down near the shop there?
Brigid: Aye. The boys was standing about the Tower. Do you see that was a usual place?
Interviewer: Yeah.
Brigid: And they came in and they picked up a boy in Glenariffe he was in Cushendall and he had been in Waterfoot and knew the soldiers were about and wanted him to stay and he says no my mother will only be worrying and they shot him. I think he had a bike. Because I think he was up Glenariffe when they lifted him.
Interviewer: Took him where?
Brigid: Round to Cushendall and shot him. There was one young fellow he was from about Scotland and if had lain on behind the counter but when he stood up and they shot him. There’s not many of my age. I remember all those things.
Interviewer: And were their funerals, were they all buried here then?
Brigid: No one fellow belonged to Ballycastle.
Interviewer: What age were you when you married.
Brigid: I was married in Cushendun.
Interviewer: Were you?
Brigid: There were three priests at my wedding.
Interviewer: Three.
Brigid: Yes. Well one was the missions. He was home on holidays and we asked him and for the life of me I can’t remember the third one. Wasn’t the Parish Priest from here?
Interviewer: Yes. Why?
Brigid: I think you need to have your own Parish Priest.
Interviewer: What was his name?
Brigid: Canon O’Rawe.
Interviewer: O’Rawe.
Brigid: I can’t remember the third one. Whether he was the curate of Cushendun but I can’t remember. We had a reception at the Cushendun Hotel, McBrides. Mrs McBride. Well I suppose it was nice then. It wasn’t so long opened.
Interviewer: What age were you when you got married?
Brigid: 30s. I worked for a few years in Ballycastle before that you see. A car was a rare sight in Brigid’s early days, you would hear it in the distance before you saw it coming along the road.
Interviewer: And the first car. Do you remember the first car?
Brigid: The first car. I can remember I was with my father, and I was over and I was with my father and saw this car coming behind.
Interviewer: Yeah. And it was the first one I remembered seeing and my hat blew off and I destroyed my lovely hat and I remember my father catching me and he says to me what did you do that for. But I thought I had plenty of time to get my hat. I don’t know who owned it. I just saw it coming. I thought you know the car was a good bit away and it was a summer hat. And it blew out in the road and I just ran out and I thought the car wasn’t that near. My father didn’t like the idea of me running out. That was the first car really I remember. It used to be bikes. There was a lot of bicycles. I used to do a lot of travelling on bike. I walked when I was younger. We thought nothing of walking into Cushendall for messages. I liked that job.