Interview with Alex O’Hara

Interviewer: What I was wanting to ask you was you know how far back … do you remember when you were at school?

Alex: Aye, I do, aye.

Interviewer: What school did you go to?

Alex: Oh Glendun, the only school ever I was at, the one and only one.

Interviewer: What year were you born in then?

Alex: I think it was seven, 1907.

Interviewer: Do you remember the First World War then?

Alex: Parts of it, I mind the Easter Rising.

Interviewer: Do you?

Alex: It was in the middle of it.

Interviewer: Roger Casement, he was up here wasn’t he?

Alex: Aye, Casement aye.

Interviewer: Do you remember him?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: Did you ever meet him.

Alex: No, no I didn’t, no I didn’t. They roped him.

Interviewer: They what?

Alex: He was hanged, was he not?

Interviewer: What about Miss Ada, do you remember her?

Alex: Oh, aye, she used to visit the school, in Glendun.

Interviewer: What was your school like then?

Alex: It suited us alright, there were only one teacher in it.

Interviewer: How many pupils were at it?

Alex: There were up to 40.

Interviewer: Was there?

Alex: On the rolls, when they all came in.

Interviewer: How far is it from here?

Alex: From here?

Interviewer: Is this were you lived, you didn’t live here did you?

Alex: No, no, up where Dan O’Hara lives. We had about a mile to walk to school, or something like that.

Interviewer: Was it hard in the winter?

Alex: No, it wasn’t a bit hard, you were mostly running to it and from it, you were always warm enough.

Interviewer: So what type of things did you do in school?

Alex: Oh, just the ordinary arithmetic and reading, stuff like that. Jim Magee was at it but he’s dead now.

Interviewer: Was he a teacher?

Alex: Aye, he used to shoot at us. They had guns, they made them themselves, birtree guns.

Interviewer: What guns?

Alex: Guns, wooden ones, they were all wood of course.

Interviewer: Right.

Alex: And when you went to the middle, you got auld bits to chew, plugs for chewing. You always sat in the back seat and when we got her writing you know or anything that she wouldn’t see round, you could hit her with these. Firing these plugs at her. And then he had a place, he had board _________ stuck it in below very quick and she didn’t know where they were coming out.

Interviewer: Was this your friend?

Alex: Eh?

Interviewer: Was this a friend of yours?

Alex: Magee? Och well, no he wasn’t, he wasn’t related.

Interviewer: Did she never catch him?

Alex: No, they come to do something to the floor and they got these, these warfare in below them. You see they put one in and another in a different space, they were air and this ramrod, they shoved it in, like a crack. I suppose she didn’t want to give in but she always half … nobody would give him away you see.

Interviewer: What did you call the teacher, what did you call her?

Alex: She was Miss O’Loan, at that time. She was from Glenravel, she became Mrs McCormick when she got married. Oh you must have heard of her I’m sure.

Interviewer: No.

Alex: She taught a lot … she taught Irish that was another thing that she done.

Interviewer: Did you learn Irish?

Alex: Oh I did know some at that time.

Interviewer: Yeah. What did you do after school?

Alex: Oh there was plenty things, oh there was always work laid out.

Interviewer: Hard work or just chores?

Alex: Oh, some of it hard enough work, cutting whins, and champing them to feed the horses.

Interviewer: Is this when you were still at school?

Alex: Aye, oh aye, well you would rather have been at it than at school.

Interviewer: Yeah. Did you not like school then?

Alex: No, nobody did at that time.

Interviewer: So what age did you leave school at?

Alex: Oh you wouldn’t have been in it after 14. You could legally quit at that time.

Interviewer: Yeah. What did you do then, work on the farm full-time?

Alex: Oh aye, you had to, I was playing when I was 15 with horses.

Interviewer: Were you? So tell me all the different types of things you did on the farm?

Alex: You would be digging potatoes, thrashing as well, that kind of work, maybe cutting hedges.

Interviewer: Cutting hedges?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: What was the hardest?

Alex: Oh they were all hard enough if you worked hard at them.

Interviewer: Did you grow flax?

Alex: Oh aye.

Interviewer: Was it hard working at that?

Alex: Aye it wasn’t easy at all. It had to be put in dams, dammed in water to rhet it.

Interviewer: Where was the nearest dam to you?

Alex: You’ll see one down across the road there and there was flax in it one time. That’s what they called the wee river, stream running down. Oh its all grown over now, you wouldn’t , you wouldn’t know it was ever in it, not now. There was some growing before the war, it was mainly during the last war the flax.

Interviewer: Was there much shortage in the First World War?

Alex: Oh indeed there were, black flour.

Interviewer: There was what?

Alex: Black flour.

Interviewer: Oh right.

Alex: It was all the kind they had for baking, black flour. I never seen any in the last war.

Interviewer: What about poteen, do you know anything about poteen?

Alex: Scutching?

Interviewer: Poteen, you know poteen the drink.

Alex: Oh poteen, I never seen it a-making.

Interviewer: No?

Alex: I did taste it one time.

Interviewer: Was it strong?

Alex: Oh good and strong, oh it was good stuff. I believe I could get you a wee taste in a bottle if you wanted to taste it. Would you like to taste it?

Interviewer: No I’m driving, no thanks. So what do you remember about the Rising, what do you remember about the Easter Rising?

Alex: Oh people getting shot and hanged, they were hanging away at them at that time.

Interviewer: What age were you? You were only nine?

Alex: I must have been, aye 10 I think, First World War.

Interviewer: 1916.

Alex: Aye, it lasted, sure it lasted four years.

Interviewer: Aye, yeah. So what about the 20’s?

Alex: They were nearer been beat then, than the last time, with the Germans.

The 16 rising?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alex: Well aye Pearce, there were two Pearces going at it.

Interviewer: Yeah and his brother. Did people talk much about that up here?

Alex: Oh they talked plenty about it. They thought … it was a gallant fight.

Interviewer: Do you remember the Black and Tans?

Alex: Oh aye.

Interviewer: Were they around here much?

Alex: Oh there were a lot, they were on them roads a lot.

Interviewer: Were they?

Alex: Aye, the auld Crossley Tender. We used to be hurling, it was more shinty played. We had to run, get away quick, they were liable to open fire.

Interviewer: Was anybody around here killed?

Alex: Some in, two in Glenariff, not just here. In Cushendall there were some.

Interviewer: Was there a lot of trouble in the ’20s.

Alex: Och there was a lot of blowing up of bridges and stuff like that. I mind there was, och he’s dead now Paddy Billy, McKeegan was his name, Paddy was surface man on the road, the Orra … were you up at the Orra bridge, no?

Interviewer: No I haven’t been there, no.

Alex: Anyway they were blown up, the two bridges, blown up. So Paddy of course it was his duty I suppose maybe, so it was to report it.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: There was a great big tall man, big Tom they called him, Tom O’Neill, he was the surveyor on the road. Paddy went away down on foot from Orra, just across country or mountain to report to Tom. There was some children, _____or something was in, Paddy had some young ones at home and he wouldn’t go near the house. He would always shout at him … Tom was doing some work … “You had better come on here, there’s two of yon bridges blew to hell.” “Well”, he said, “I’ll have to go up … how did you get down?” “Came on foot” says he, “And that’s how I’ll go back.” They wanted him ‘til… to get a sail back, he had a motor car. “No” he says, “I would twice rather walk, twice rather walk.” He wouldn’t take a sail in the motor.

Interviewer: Were there many motor cars?

Alex: No, there weren’t no, not at that time.

Interviewer: Do you remember the first one you saw?

Alex: I don’t know exactly but I seen them working down in the meadows there and they heard there was one supposed to be coming round to go over the big bridge. They all left their work and went away up there to see it passing, to see the motor car.

Interviewer: Yeah. Who owned it?

Alex: Ah they were strangers. It wasn’t Johnson’s motor car anyway. You could hear the din coming down Glendun of Johnson’s motor car. He was a doctor, Johnson ___________ but the IRA needed the motor.

Interviewer: They took it off him?

Alex: Aye he was presenting a permit, tax permit. “We don’t want your English permit we want you buggered car.” Well they took it and filled it to the brim.

Interviewer: Filled it?

Alex: Filled it to the brim.

Interviewer: With what?

Alex: Bullets and something, bright and shiny or something like that. You could hear the din coming down Glendun of Johnson’s motor car. Aye Johnson he’d a ______ having to hand over the motor.

Interviewer: Was there much smuggling around here?

Alex: No, och no, not that I remember.

Interviewer: What about hiring fairs, hiring fairs do you remember them?

Alex: The what?

Interviewer: Hiring fairs do you remember them?

Alex: Hiring fairs?

Interviewer: Yeah you know when people were hired out?

Alex: Ah the hiring fairs you mean, oh aye.

Interviewer: Do you remember … were you ever at one?

Alex: Oh I was at them but I was never hired.

Interviewer: What way did they work?

Alex: I think they had to work hard. So that was what I heard, for very small money.

Interviewer: Did they all line up the people, what way did they do it at the fair?

Alex: They just were picked and some of them would stay on if they were anyway pleased with them they would have stayed on … six months hiring.

Interviewer: They couldn’t leave until the 6 months were up?

Alex: No, no they say they worked them wild hard and they had to force them to leave and then if they broke the engagement they got no pay at all.

Interviewer: What type of people went to be hired out?

Alex: Young, strong fellows.

Interviewer: Would they not have any family?

Alex: No seldom, they were mostly single. I think they weren’t good times at all. I mind one auld lady she belonged to Rathlin, och she was backing up the boys that was hiring. This is the Lammas fair day this ould boy, a farmer was hiring and he would ask so much money and not a hair on your face. “Well” the young fellow said “If its hair you want to do your work sir, hire a goat.”

Interviewer: You see when you were working on the farm what type of … did you mainly use horses?

Alex: Aye they were the only power.

Interviewer: There wasn’t any technology or machines or anything?

Alex: No, not at that time.

Interviewer: No.

Alex: But they were ploughing later on. I mind one ould boy down in Carey, the command he gave the horses coming out … “Out to hell now and in to blazes!” They would roost before they would go straight out, the horses. They had to turn in again to plough it down the other way.

Interviewer: Do you know anybody that … was there much emigration, did people go to America and Australia?

Alex: There were a lot going to America.

Interviewer: Was there?

Alex: Oh aye.

Interviewer: When was this, in the ’20s?

Alex: Aye in the 20’s. Aye and up to the ’30s.

Interviewer: Anyone related to you?

Alex: Aye myself.

Interviewer: Did you?

Alex: And I was in Australia too.

Interviewer: To work?

Alex: Well that’s what my brother told me, it’s a long way to go to work.

Interviewer: What age were you when you went to America?

Alex: Ah, maybe about 22.

Interviewer: What type of work did you do?

Alex: Well you were glad to get any kind of work … On up to ’25, ’26 … the Wall Street crash. There were no work.

Interviewer: Is that why you came home then?

Alex: Aye, I came home, well I went to Australia, to see what that would be like.

Interviewer: How long were you there for?

Alex: Ah about four years, almost four.

Interviewer: Did you like it?

Alex: No, I didn’t love it, I liked it well enough. As long as you were working you liked it all right. Ah I spent two years in the Australian bush.

Interviewer: Was it not very hot?

Alex: Ah it was hot, North Queensland, tropical place.

Interviewer: Was it hard working in the heat?

Alex: It didn’t get any easier anyway.

Interviewer: So when did you come back to the Glens then?

Alex: Back here?

Interviewer: To settle?

Alex: Ah the war was long over, must have been ’36, around that time, no it was far more, it was about ‘51.

Interviewer: Was it?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: How long were you in America for?

Alex: One year.

Interviewer: One year and then four years in Australia?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: So where were you all throughout the 1930’s then?

Alex: I must have been round about here.

Interviewer: Ah right. And you remember … sorry go ahead.

Alex: No it’s all right.

Interviewer: Do you remember any other markets?

Alex: Markets? I mind the flax markets.

Interviewer: What time of the year was that at then?

Alex: Time of the year?

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: Well mostly in the wintertime the flax was. The mills was scutching the flax. There is a couple away down… there is one at Sharkey’s.

Interviewer: Whereabouts is that?

Alex: Ah not far from here, about a mile or so.

Interviewer: Towards Cushendun.

Alex: Aye. Then Carey had a mill, nearer.

Interviewer: Is it still standing, is the building still there?

Alex: Aye, I think so, aye, maybe they converted it into something else.

Interviewer: Right. Do you remember the Second World War?

Alex: Aye the second.

Interviewer: The ’39 War?

Alex: Oh aye, Hitler’s war.

Interviewer: Yeah. Were you in the Glens then?

Alex: Aye, I went to sea in the war.

Interviewer: Did you?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: The Navy?

Alex: Merchant Navy, aye most of the war, the greater part of that war I was at sea, the last war.

Interviewer: Whereabouts did you go?

Alex: Well I was away down … there were different places you could have went,

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: Wherever the ship would take you to. Very often some of the Kelly boats, you know.

Interviewer: Did you like being at sea.

Alex: Och aye it was alright, as long as you didn’t get bombed or something.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alex: The only action I was in was getting bombed.

Interviewer: When was that?

Alex: In the last war.

Interviewer: Where were you?

Alex: In the Bristol Channel.

Interviewer: Hmm. Did it do much damage?

Alex: Aye it damaged the ould boat, we were bound for Belfast right enough, but they were afraid she wouldn’t make it and they put her into Dundalk and I walked from there home.

Interviewer: From where?

Alex: Dundalk.

Interviewer: Dundalk?

Alex: Aye, yes, aye on foot.

Interviewer: From there to here?

Alex: Aye and farther than here. There were no petrol, there were no cars on the road.

Interviewer: No buses?

Alex: Must have been about the month of February. I wasn’t a damn bit tired, I went in to a dance at Knocknacarry hall.

Interviewer: How long did it take you?

Alex: Och I’m sure I was two hours anyway, at least. There weren’t a vehicle passed me. I went on, but there were no cars on the road. I would have stopped them. Och I could have got left home, I could have called with the police.

Interviewer: Do you remember any stories about the sea, any sort of folklore, superstitions or anything about the sea, the weather or anything? Do you remember anything like that?

Alex: Bad weather, ships?

Interviewer: Anything at all.

Alex: I wouldn’t believe anything like that.

Interviewer: Would you not?

Alex: No. It was too real what they were at. I think it’s the ‘Crew Hill’ they called the ould ship, one of Kelly’s boats right enough.

Interviewer: ‘Crew Hill’.

Alex: ‘Crew hill’.

Interviewer: So you were on that most of the war?

Alex: Ah you just had to … wherever the pool … you know Waring Street?

Interviewer: Yes I do.

Alex: That’s where the pool off was in Waring Street. Wherever they sent you, you had to go.

Interviewer: What did you do on board?

Alex: Sometimes … that was the worst thing, I could go above or below.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: You could get called away far sooner.

Interviewer: Which did you prefer?

Alex: The firing was all right in the winter.

Interviewer: Yeah. Did you not get seasick?

Alex: When I was first at sea I was only about 22 or 21. I was sea sick at that time but it never came back again even being so long absent.

Interviewer: What made you go into sea at first?

Alex: To get some money.

Interviewer: Money.

Alex: Chasing some money because there were none to be got.

Interviewer: Was there not?

Alex: No

Alex: Aye, £20 took you to America.

Interviewer: Did it?

Alex: At that time.

Interviewer: How long did it take by boat?

Alex: Ah it took a, most of a week.

Interviewer: Where did the boat leave from?

Alex: Belfast I left from.

Interviewer: Did you just go on your own?

Alex: Ah there were plenty people aboard.

Interviewer: New York did you go to?

Alex: Aye New York.

Interviewer: Have you ever been back since?

Alex: I was during the last war.

Interviewer: Not recently, no?

Alex: No, no

Interviewer: Do you remember the evacuees down here? You weren’t really here during the war.

Alex: Ah well I was at sea at that time, I heard tell of them.

Interviewer: Did any of them stay?

Alex: Eh?

Interviewer: Did any of them stay after the war?

Alex: Aye, I think there were, aye there was some of them stayed on. I never knew them that well that I could remember. Aye there were some of them did stay on, some even got married, I heard tell of.

Interviewer: When you came out of the navy after the war and came back to the Glens, did you think it had changed much?

Alex: Not damn the much, I didn’t see much changes anyway.

Interviewer: Did you move here then?

Alex: Aye, I bought a piece of land, a place they call Dunurgan.

Interviewer: Yes I do, hmm.

Alex: And that’s where … I got married when I came back.

Interviewer: Hmm. Somebody local?

Alex And lived. She was one of Burns, a Scotch woman, Robbie if you ever heard tell of him.

Interviewer: Robbie?

Alex: Robbie Burns, Scots poet.

Interviewer: Oh right, right.

Alex: I thought the world knew about him.

Interviewer: What type of sports did you play?

Alex: Away back at that time it was shinty.

Interviewer: when you were young?

Alex: Aye, you went out into the wood and you cut whatever sort of stick would suit you.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: One with a turn in it.

Interviewer: That was it?

Alex: That was it.

Interviewer: Where did you play in?

Alex: Clady, a place they called Clady, McSparran’s owned it. They were the only ones that would let you play on their ground.

Interviewer: Were you good at it?

Alex: Aye, well I, I thought I was, but there were plenty better.

Interviewer: Did you ever play in any competitions?

Alex: I played hurling the year I was in America.

Interviewer: Did you?

Alex: In a place they called Innisvale Park, Innisvale Park it was in the Bronx, Antrim had a team.

Interviewer: Did you think you were going to stay when you went to America? Or did you just go to work for a year?

Alex: Well I had a holiday the first six months before I found any work, I wasn’t too encouraged.

Interviewer: How did you survive?

Alex: Och I knew people, called with them, paid them back up again when I got work. Its all tractors and different ways of mobile now on the road.

Interviewer: That’s right. When you were young, do you remember funerals?

Alex: Funerals?

Interviewer: Or Wakes?

Alex: Wakes, aye

Interviewer: Do you remember them?

Alex: Wakes was better than the funerals.

Interviewer: Were they?

Alex Oh aye.

Interviewer: Any stories about them?

Alex: Och I don’t mind them now … and weddings and country fairs. The country fairs were good value.

Interviewer: Were they?

Alex: Oh aye.

Interviewer: What did yous do?

Alex: Well, we’d drink and fight, that was one thing and maybe exchange some animals for some cash or money.

Interviewer: How often were they on?

Alex: There were four principal fairs in the year, November, February, St Patrick’s Day of course was a leading one, it was a day for celebration.

Interviewer: Was it a big day?

Alex: Aye, big as any would be in the year, 17th March.

Interviewer: Was there dances at the Fairs?

Alex: Aye, they kind of died out too. I heard them saying that the Lammas Fair lasted near a fortnight.

Interviewer: Did it?

Alex: Aye, in Hennigan’s ballroom there was dancing all the time.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: In Ballycastle.

Interviewer: Did you dance?

Alex: Took part?

Interviewer: Ceili dancing?

Alex: Aye, it was later on the Ceili dancing started.

Interviewer: What was the earlier type?

Alex: Eh?

Interviewer: What was the earlier type of dancing?

Alex: Quaddrels, Quaddrels and Lancers.

Interviewer: Oh right.

Alex: Highland flings.

Interviewer: Really.

Alex: Oh aye, barn dancing.

Interviewer: Where there many Scottish people came over?

Alex: Aye just before this war there was a wild lot … the last war there was a lot come.

Interviewer: Was there?

Alex: But the war broke it off, there weren’t so many. Ah still some does come. Is that a new house yous live in?

Interviewer: It is.

Alex: Does it belong to McNeills, the Rocks?

Interviewer: John of the Rocks you know … it was done up.

Alex: Aye the old house on the rocks.

Interviewer: Yes.

Alex: A sister of mine is … Mrs McNeill, down there.

Interviewer: What did you call her?

Alex: She was Kathleen to her own name, Mrs John McNeill.

Interviewer: Oh right.

Alex: She became.

Interviewer: Oh yes.

Alex: Ah she’s dead, I think they are all dead.

Interviewer: Did she live in that wee house?

Alex: Aye, she did. It was very close to the sea, sure it was washed by the sea.

Interviewer: Yes. What did John McNeill do?

Alex: He was a fisherman, I think he went to sea some time. He was at it during the war.

Interviewer: The First World War?

Alex: Eh.

Interviewer: Which war?

Alex: Oh the last, oh it wouldn’t have been the First World War.

Interviewer: Do you think there has been a big, big change in funerals?

Alex: In funerals?

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: Oh aye, well away back then there was no hearses. They carried four or five mile.

Interviewer: Did they?

Alex Aye on their shoulders.

Interviewer: Where did they get the coffins?

Alex: There were local carpenters made them.

Interviewer: Did they?

Alex: Aye, aye.

Interviewer: It must have been awful difficult to carry it that far.

Alex: Ah there was crowds turned out. The younger one were … the older ones wasn’t expected to carry … from the head of Glendun even to Craigagh was a good tramp.

Interviewer: I’m sure. What about weddings?

Alex: I can’t mind must about them in the early times at all. During the last war, aye, there were some good weddings.

Interviewer: When did you get married?

Alex: Where or when?

Interviewer: Both.

Alex: In Scotland I got married.

Interviewer: Did you?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: Were you going to live over there?

Alex: No, I never intended to, in Ayr, you know Ayr, you heard tell of it.

Interviewer: I do. Was it a small occasion?

Alex: Oh no by heavens there were plenty at it, two or three hundred at it.

Interviewer: That’s unusual isn’t it?

Alex: Hmm.

Interviewer: Do you remember you parents telling you about their young days?

Alex: Aye well both would occasionally.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: Talk about them, comparing them, all what you had to do and what they had to do.

Interviewer: Yeah. Was it harder for them?

Alex: Aye, thought it was the harder times all the time.

Interviewer: Did they ever tell you stories about the famine or anything?

Alex: No, I don’t think the famine was bad up here in this area.

Interviewer: No.

Alex: No. I heard my father saying that people were hungry but he thought that none of them died actually from famine.

Interviewer: Did the crops fail?

Alex: Aye the potatoes, the blight, and the potatoes.

Interviewer: Did both your parents come from around here?

Alex: Well, my father did from the other side of the big bridge, very close to where you met Mr McKillop.

Interviewer: Yes.

Alex: That’s were he belonged to and Mrs was one of Robbie’s, from Ayr, Burn’s town.

Interviewer: Was she?

Alex: Did you ever hear tell of Sooter Johnny, no.

Interviewer: Of Who?

Alex: Sooter Johnny?

Interviewer: Sooter Johnny?

Alex: Sooter Johnny.

Interviewer: No I haven’t.

Alex: He was a drinking pal of Robbie Burns.

Interviewer: Hmm. In Scotland?

Alex: In Scotland, aye.

Interviewer: No I never heard of him. Do you remember were there any big events or catastrophes or anything memorable that happened around here?

Alex: I don’t remember anything about here. You could read about maybe the Battle of the Marne.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Alex: That was big battle during the First World War.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: It was a war, a big one. Dug in like wolves. Next leader that came along showed them another way of fighting … the Kaiser.

Interviewer: What about …

Alex: A poem of Burns “I gently scan your fellow man likewise your sister woman, though they may gang like Ken and rang to walk beside the sheep”. He was very witty.

Interviewer: When was he about?

Alex: Eh?

Interviewer: What year … when was he about?

Alex: Ah, he’s a hundred years dead.

Interviewer: Is he?

Alex: He’s not about as while.

Interviewer: No. Do you remember the snowfall of ‘47?

Alex: Oh aye, aye, I mind it alright, it’s the biggest snow ever I seen.

Interviewer: Was it?

Alex: Aye, ’47.

Interviewer: Did you get about?

Alex: Aye, I worked at cutting snow on the roads. There were places it was very, very deep. There were some right calm, warm enough days and the snow lying.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: You could have put off you coat and hang it on the telecom wire. Aye, quare depth of snow. There were an ould fella … they were looking for ones to cut the snow. It started on … it was on Patrick’s day it started and I was six weeks cutting at it after Patrick’s day. Them high mountain roads was all closed. They wanted to get them open someway.

Interviewer: Was there floods when it melted?

Alex: there was no big floods, it went away gradually.

Interviewer: Any other bad winters?

Alex: Indeed, aye there were some bad winters, six, seven years ago, severe winters. The last two, the last couple of winters here have been mild, mild as I have seen them.

Interviewer: When?

Alex: Winter before, well this is a mild winter too, the two before that were still mild.

Interviewer: Hmm. Do you think the weather has changed?

Alex: The winters are far warmer now than, they are warming up.

Interviewer: What about Christmas, Easter and Halloween?

Alex: Ah well you got a bit of corn bread at Christmas right enough, and Easter you might get an extra egg, and Halloween if you had teeth you could crack nuts, that was them.

Interviewer: What did yous get up to at Halloween?

Alex: Old Jimmy McKendry, do you know him?

Interviewer: I’ve heard of him.

Alex: Down in Cushendun.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: I think he must have been the oldest one alive around this part.

Interviewer: Where’s he at?

Alex: Where is he at?

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: The village of Cushendun, he’s at.

Interviewer: Is he older that you?

Alex: I think he must be, by the reports I hear. Sure you don’t know anybody’s age unless somebody tells you. What do you mind about them, nothing.

Interviewer: What?

Alex: You don’t mind anything about coming into the world, or maybe … you’re young enough, do you? What age are you, was it 26 you told me?

Interviewer: It was yeah.

Alex: You don’t look it at all.

Interviewer: No, you don’t look your age, you look about 70.

Alex: Well I was on the batter these last three days, I went away on Friday and only came back last night.

Interviewer: Hmm. Where were you?

Alex: Away over by Dunloy, if you know that country.

Interviewer: Hmm. Very nice.

Alex: Round about there.

Interviewer: So you enjoy yourself?

Alex: Damn to hell I’m getting tired of it. I was with Martin, you never fell in with a boy they call Jimmy Martin, no.

Interviewer: No.

Alex: The way he taul it “het to ma sul aye” that’s the way he talks, if you can follow that.

Interviewer: What about field names, do you know any unusual field names?

Alex: McGill, he had plenty field names.

Interviewer: Any Irish ones?

Alex: Aye, he would have Irish ones too … Craigadarragh was one, Coohuron, was another.

Interviewer: Do you remember the Glens Gaelic language?

Alex: Ah very, very little, some old ones had it, very old.

Interviewer: Is that what you learnt at school, no?

Alex: No, no it was different. The older people had a way of talking that I never heard at any school.

Interviewer: When you learnt Irish could you speak to them, could you understand them?

Alex: Oh I did, the words wasn’t the best, mind you. You were better not knowing them, what they mean, just as well off. They were very printable.

Interviewer: Hmm. When did that die out?

Alex: Ah it was nearly gone from I knowed it, almost dead, then an odd ould woman, … there was an ould woman they called Rose McGuckian she was the last of them I heard talk it. “Go hifferin”, that was go to hell.

Interviewer: Go hifferin?

Alex: Go hifferin.

Interviewer: Do you remember any famous people around the Glens?

Alex: Any famous people?

Interviewer: Yeah, you know, any of the poets or artists or anything, anybody that lived here?

Alex: Ah, you know some boy down there by Rock, one or two down there, forget their names. Wilkes, was he Wilkes.

Interviewer: Oh Yes Maurice Wilkes.

Alex: Eh?

Interviewer: Maurice Wilkes.

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: Did you ever meet him?

Alex: No I never did. He built a wee bit of a bungalow there. Does he still come there … maybe he’s dead.

Interviewer: The bungalow beside Rockport?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: Do you remember Lord Cushendun?

Alex: I do, I mind him, great big long fella.

Interviewer: Was he? Did you ever meet him?

Alex: I did, I met him in his own house, on one occasion.

Interviewer: When was that house burnt?

Alex: ’21 or ’22.

Interviewer: Aye.

Alex: Freedom fighters burnt it.

Interviewer: What was he like then?

Alex: Ah he was a … he’d another woman, a second wife.

Interviewer: Really?

Alex: She was English. There was another ould character about he belonged to Cushleake but he’d been years away in Australia.

Interviewer: Hmm. Who was that?

Alex: If I could mind him … he came back out of Australia and bought a bit of a farm, Altagore farm you called it. The Lord was complained about these new houses going up and down, he spoke up and said “In my view” says he, “There were more houses went down than went up”. He was the one that was right, “M’ lord” says he. He fired something very hard and he broke Churchill’s nose.

Interviewer: Who did?

Alex: Lord Cushendun. Fired this hard book at him in the British House of Commons.

Interviewer: Hmm. Do you remember the Crommelins?

Alex: Aye. Was he a Cabinet Minister?

Interviewer: Were they in the Cave House?

Alex: Oh the Cave House, no, no, he wasn’t near the Cave House.

Interviewer: No. What about Cushendun you know, which place … would you have went to Cushendun before you went to Cushendall, was it closer to you?

Alex: For a ceilidh?

Interviewer: Well yes.

Alex: Aye, because you belonged to that parish.

Interviewer: Yeah. Do you remember the Bay Café?

Alex: This is part of Cushendall Parish.

Interviewer: Yeah. Do you remember the Bay Café and has it changed a bit?

Alex: Elliotts was there at the Bay Café, I worked a while at the building of it.

Interviewer: Did you?

Alex: Oh aye.

Interviewer: You helped build the hotel did you, when it was turned into a hotel, the second floor?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: The first floor?

Alex: The top one, aye.

Interviewer: Was there many bus tours came down to that?

Alex: Oh there were plenty coming at that time. Och all them ould characters that was about Cushendun are all dead.

Interviewer: Yeah. Can you think of things that have changed in it?

Alex: Och there is nobody tilling the land now, its all grass farming, green, there no tilling.

Interviewer: A lot of sheep.

Alex: Aye sheep they might go down in numbers, the prices have dropped badly.

Interviewer: Have they?

Alex: Oh aye, very bad. That big snow there was a lot of sheep lost.

Interviewer: Was there?

Alex: In ’47. I knew a man and he lost £1200, had to pack her in.

Interviewer: Where did he go to then?

Alex: Well he bought a piece of low ground away at the other side of Ballycastle, Connolly he was. Och health went. You would need to have been brave and fit for following sheep on them mountains and hills too. And a good dog.

Interviewer: Do you remember the Strand House in Cushendun?

Alex: Aye.

Interviewer: Who lived in that before it was left derelict?

Alex: Before it was left derelict?

Interviewer: You know the way it was …

Alex: There was a parish priest lived in it.

Interviewer: Was there?

Alex: I think it was. He was McCann, a Fr McCann. There was some bit of ground around it or something on it that he had neglected paying and they put him out.

Interviewer: So was it left empty then?

Alex: Aye, it lay empty. I think … is it habitable now?

Interviewer: Yeah. It has been done up. It’s a holiday place now.

Alex Glenravel he was moved to.

Interviewer: When was this?

Alex: When?

Interviewer: Hmm.

Alex: Ah it was a good while back now. That house he was living in, they called The Strand. He walked about the roads a lot. He smoked the pipe but he wouldn’t let anybody catch him smoking. He lit all the whin bushes he went along. A visiting place of his was McClintock’s, you must have heard of McClintocks, though they weren’t the same religion, anyway that was him main house for visiting. Then he’d go across the mountain and down to a place they call Coramaddy, down to the school. He had been out walking this day up at Cargan in Glenravel and there was a woman and she was after a sow, you know a sow is, a pig. Oh the devil choked you … what ever she come on, she was guarding it, the auld pig left her, went on, ____

It was hens and birds and hens she, and she said “The devil may take yous.” She never seen him but he heard her. “Awe my good woman you’ll just have to wait for he’s busy choking an auld sow down in Cargan”. Aye, busy choking an auld sow in Cargan.

Interviewer: Do you remember any ghost stories or superstitions or stories about anything sort of …

Alex No I don’t think I do.

Interviewer: Did you ever see a ghost?

Alex: A ghost, I don’t think it, no. It was a very rare person would see any ghosts.

Interviewer: Yeah. What about superstitions, are there any things that you should or shouldn’t do?

Alex: They said you shouldn’t work on Sundays and stuff like that. Them was all, aye about burning your hands.

Interviewer: Like what?

Alex: The sticks, say it was a piece of timber you were working … they would be all burned on your hands for working on a Sunday ________ they’d be all burned on your hands and for, _________

Interviewer: Really?

Alex: Aye, I don’t think there are anybody stocks them, no. How are you travelling have you a motor or are you flying?

Interviewer: I have a car.

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