Interview with Sarah

Born in Craignagat, in Glenariffe, Sarah remembers the early decades of the 20th Century. Rural life was very different then … small local schools and close-knit communities.

Sarah: I was born in 1906. I was born in Glenariffe.
Interviewer: Glenariffe? Whereabouts in Glenariffe?
Sarah: You know, Glenariffe is just a plain country road.
Interviewer: Yes. Just in the middle of it, in the country?
Sarah: Yes just in the middle yes.
Interviewer: Do you remember the Feis?
Sarah: The Feis? Oh I was at it. Yes just a wee girl dressed up. I had a white frock on me.
Interviewer: Did your mother make that?
Sarah: No my mother bought it.
Interviewer: What did all the wee girls in the Feis have to do.
Sarah: They always danced.
Interviewer: Irish dancing?
Sarah: Yes. You just had a white dress and wee white slippers. Four Hand Reel and Eight Hand Reel … all them.
Interviewer: Did you dance with the boys?

Sarah: Yes the fellows were the same age. They wore a nice wee suit. I would have been 8 or maybe more. I would hardly be any more. Just a wee lassie from the school you know.
Interviewer: And did you like the Feis?
Sarah: Oh aye it was great. They used to have it down in the field down at the shore.

Interviewer: Oh right. Whereabouts?
Sarah: Just down at the end of the Bay down …
Interviewer: It must have been lovely was it?
Sarah: Indeed it was lovely and that’s the truth. Never mind all that will you? It was a great day and that’s the truth.
Interviewer: What did you do after the Irish dancing?
Sarah: Just hung around and just had a bit of a laugh and running around just.
Interviewer: Did you have to take your good dress off?
Sarah: No. I got keeping it on.
Interviewer: All day.
Sarah: Even until the evening and then my mother took it home.
Interviewer: How many girls and boys danced?
Sarah: There was 8. They danced at different times you know. The Eight Hand Reel and sometimes the Lancers.
Interviewer: Who played the music?
Sarah: There was a man played the accordian, Mickey Duffin, he’s dead now. He played that.
Interviewer: Was there a big crowd there?
Sarah: Oh aye a big crowd. We danced back and forward all day.
Interviewer: All day, really. For different crowds?
Sarah: Yes. And then we had tea.
Interviewer: Whereabouts did you have tea?
Sarah: In the teahouse. Do you know where the teahouse is, up in Glenariffe?
Interviewer: The house that you grew up in was it in the middle of Glenariffe was it?
Sarah: Yes it was, near the Lodge, yes almost beside it. Yes and I worked there after I left school. Great place.
Interviewer: Was there any singing at the Feis?
Sarah: Oh aye there was singing. Yes that’s right. We learned Irish songs at school. Fiddles and all. Oh aye they’d be music.
Interviewer: What time of the day did it start at?
Sarah: It started between 8 and 10 o’clock. In the morning. It was nearly all day, fiddles and all. It didn’t finish until late on.
Interviewer: So how did you get picked to dance?
Sarah: Just at the school, Kilmore School. Oh I loved the school. Mrs Higgins was the teacher. Just the one room.
Interviewer: Was there an open fire?
Sarah: Oh yes there was an open fire. There was indeed an open fire, a coal fire. Different then to what it is now.
Interviewer: What type of subjects did you learn at school?
Sarah: We learned singing.
Interviewer: Singing.
Sarah: And dancing and music. There was about 30 at the school.
Interviewer: What did you like best about school?
Sarah: I liked every part of it, that’s the truth. Oh aye we had a great life in our younger days.
Interviewer: Oh are you left handed?
Sarah: Mhmm.
Interviewer: Did you have to write with your right hand?
Sarah: Yes. I used to get hit by the teacher with the ruler.
Interviewer: So what hand do you use now to write?
Sarah: I can use the right now. The teacher used to hit us to make us write with the right hand.
Interviewer: What was your favourite subject?
Sarah: I liked music.
Interviewer: You liked music best. Can you sing?
Sarah: Used to be but not now.
Interviewer: I’d love you to sing for me.
Sarah: I couldn’t sing because I’m hoarse.
Interviewer: I’m sure you were very good. Could you do a wee gig?
Sarah: I couldn’t do a a gig now, no.
Interviewer: What did your father do?
Sarah: He worked to the Dobbs when I was a youngster. Yes up in the mountain. He climbed up into the mountain and got work up in the hills. Cutting turf and things like that. He worked there. There was two or three men working at Dobbs. He had the house and paid the rent to Dobbs. My father had, wait until I see, he had 2 brothers and 3 sisters. It was a different Glen, it was a different place then than it is now.
Interviewer: What age were you when you started Kilmore?
Sarah: I was four when I went to Kilmore School. Yes. I went with my twin brother. Yes. He’s dead now too. We went to school together.
Interviewer: Did he dance in the Feis as well?
Sarah: Yes he did indeed. Aye it was nice then. Went to the same school.
Interviewer: Do you remember the First World War?
Sarah: Oh I do. Yes because I had an uncle who was in the First World War but he never was shot or nothing. He’s dead now years ago.
Interviewer: Did it affect your life at all?
Sarah: No we hadn’t the sense. We were too young.
Interviewer: Were there any army or soldiers in Glenariffe during the War, the First World War?
Sarah: Oh there was. Yes. The army and soldiers.
Interviewer: Whereabouts?
Sarah: Just down in Cushendall. They used to take them to the hotel. I remember the Titanic when it went down. Read about it in the papers. Very sad right enough.
Interviewer: What about the War?
Sarah: I remember we used to go to school and carry a gas mask with us. Oh aye you used to carry the gas mask on your shoulder. We had an air raid shelter built beside our school.
Interviewer: Did you never go in your bare feet?
Sarah: Many a time I went in my bare feet. We used to get thorns in our feet when the men would be cutting the hedges you know. Yes there was a river passed by the house where we lived, just flowed along the side of the house. We used to go in with our bare feet. Aye there was wee trouts in it.
Interviewer: What age were you when you left school?
Sarah: Wait until I see now. I was 14. To work in the teahouse. I think we were paid every month. Just a whean of shillings.
Interviewer: Did you give that to your mother?
Sarah: Oh aye. She needed that to keep the house.
Interviewer: What age did you get married at?
Sarah: Me? 20. A Scotchman. I met him when I worked in the Teahouse.
Interviewer: Was he over on holiday?
Sarah: Yes.
Interviewer: And did you go to dances with him?
Sarah: Aye went to dances in the Bay Hall.
Interviewer: Yeah I know where that is. And how long was it from when you met him until you married him?
Sarah: It wasn’t very long. I was 20 and he was 22.
Interviewer: Did you get engaged or did you just get married?
Sarah: We just got married. I don’t believe in engagements.
Interviewer: When you got married then whereabouts did you and your husband live?
Sarah: We went to Scotland to live.
Interviewer: Did you? I can hear a wee bit of Scotch in your accent.
Sarah: I’m sure of that. I liked it and he liked Ireland. And we came back to Ireland then. He got a job in Ireland and then he died over here. My family were all born in Scotland.
Interviewer: Could you tell me about your wedding day?
Sarah: Oh I had a nice navy dress.
Interviewer: Did somebody make it?
Sarah: My mother and my father bought it for me. It was a nice dress with long sleeves. No it wasn’t long. They weren’t wearing them that long then. A nice wee navy hat. Gloves. Those were navy. Yes, just a posie of flowers.
Interviewer: Were you nervous?
Sarah: I wasn’t a bit nervous because I loved my husband and I wasn’t nervous.
Interviewer: Did you have a bridesmaid?
Sarah: Oh yes I had one of my sisters.
Interviewer: And did you have a best man?
Sarah: Oh aye his brother. We went to a house in Cushendall for tea afterwards.
Interviewer: Did you have a party?
Sarah: No just our two selves. It was lovely. We just saved up my money and went over to Scotland.
Interviewer: Did you miss Glenariffe when you went to Scotland?
Sarah: No I didn’t. I missed Scotland when I came back.
Interviewer: Any ghost stories?
Sarah: Well there was one ghost story. There was a big tree growing beside where we lived in Glenariffe and they always said that the fairies kept in it but this day there was a man, a sailor man and he said I’ll put an end to the music and he went away, he went to Cushendall and he got a mouth organ and he went up into the tree and played in the tree and went up into where the fairies were supposed to be and played in there and it was him that was playing and not the fairies and the next morning … they heard this music what was supposed to be the fairies and it wasn’t the fairies at all it was this man, this French fellow and he went up and played and played and played and then people thought that was the fairies and it wasn’t the fairies at all. Yes trying to frighten them. That’s what it was, it was the man.