Sunday, 13 February 2011

Raphoe FRC - Childhood

Old £1 and £5 Notes 1950/1975 - Courtesy Hugh Doherty


'I have memories of my mother dying when I was four. I remember the wake, these big ladies came in to dress her up. She died in 1950 from TB. I was the oldest. I remember we travelled quite a lot. In the 1950s jobs were at a premium, you had to go where the jobs where. I got upset one time and I remember going outside and lifting the stones of the ground and throwing them into the clouds crying out to my mother for leaving us. I remember when she was still alive, my father had a big box of corks like you would have had for bottles, and he cut them into shapes like chairs, and that was my first doll house.'- Dolores O’Kelly

'I remember when I was very young we were staying in Dooaghery, a grand aunt of ours had gooseberry bushes. I led out my siblings and we cleaned the bushes. We were so sick we kept everyone up at the house all night.' – Dolores O’ Kelly


'The worst year in school was the year when they didn’t change to daylight saving time. It used to be dark until nine o’clock in the morning when we were walking to school. My father used to teach the catholic wains their catechism, while the teacher was getting on with her other work. It was a protestant school so it was very unique. Everybody was the same in those days it didn’t matter what religion you were. Everyone had very little.' – Tilly Hyndman

'I remember on day one at school, one of the boys put a shoe on top of the door and the teacher opened it and the shoe fell on top of her. The boy who done it was made stand in the corner all day.' – Michael Devenney

'I remember my first day at school and I remember it plain as day. We got a break and I stood in the yard staring at the town clock all day. I thought it was amazing, I’d never seen anything like it. We never used to get into the town.' – Tilly Hyndman

'The cane was the worst part of school. The children used to have to hold one hand out and got six slaps on one hand and six on the other hand. I remember one day the master came in and asked what ESB stood for, and one of the boys put up his hand and said ‘Please sir, Eggs, Sausages and bacon’. Well he was taken up to the top of the class and caned for it!' – Tilly Hyndman

‘Whenever I was in second class we were in a prefab. When we went out for lunch we left the door open and the chickens from next door got in. We came in and tried to chase them out, but they all went into the corner where the paints were, and the mess they made! Paint and feathers everywhere.’ – Sharon Clarke

‘For lunch we had a bottle of milk and food was called pieces. We used to hide milk in the shade of a tree in case it would sour. Everyone knew their own milk.’ - Hugh Doherty

Food and Cures

‘The potatoes went to seed in the summer so everyone ate rice. You used to make a big pot of rice and you’d take the cream from the milk and put it on top of the rice. Beestings was the milk for the first three days after a calve was born. It was full of antibodies. My mother used to make cheese. She used to put the cream in a wee wooden tub and eventually make cheese from it. Everyone used to call over for some of it.’ –Elizabeth Russell

'Cures were always around then. Nobody had the price of a doctor. Sometimes they used to make a rub from mustard and it was put on your chest if you had a cold overnight and brown paper was put on top of it.' – Elizabeth Russell

‘There were cures for ringworm and measles. You would put a red circle around the ringworm and rub it with a wedding ring. It was very effective.’ – Tilly Hyndman

‘There were eleven of us. There was seven girls in each room. One night Daddy heard a bang, he got up to see what it was. One of the girls had fallen out of the bed and didn’t even know it.’ – Michael Devenney

‘There was also a cure for the warts. You’d cut a potato into four and rub the wart with each part of it and then you’d throw the potato away somewhere where it would rot. As the potato rotted the wart would go away as well.’ – Sharon Clarke

Sometimes in the country people who had enough money would have bought extra so there was supplies for local people.


Ministers called out to the house. Christenings were also sometimes carried out in the house. In the Church of Ireland you weren’t meant to take the child out until it was christened.

In the Catholic Church christening was carried out on the third day, and it was carried out by the godparents only.


'We used to go out and knocked on the doors and we’d have the door tied, so when they went to open it they couldn’t. We went in one night to a house and we went past a window with the false faces on us and there was a girl in the kitchen with a can of milk and when she saw us she let out a scream and dropped a tin of milk.' – Tilly Hyndman

Christmas Mummers in 1950’s Oughterlin

It appears that this was an old English folk custom, associated with the winter Solstice (shortest day). It was celebrating the soon return of the Sun and the triumph of good over evil.

Early December each year in the 1950’s, Oughterlin schoolboys of twelve to thirteen years, would learn traditional rhymes and practise singing to go out in the Mummers at mid-December.

The Mummers represented seven characters and dressed accordingly, using false faces made out of cardboard, coats turned outside-in and sometimes wellingtons on the “wrong feet”. Part of the rhymes could be varied to suit the local audience.

The first character in the door was:

Room Room

Room, room, my gallant boys,

Give us room to rhyme.

We’ll show you some activity about this Christmas time,

With your pockets full of money and barrels full of beer

We wish you a merry Christmas & a happy new year.

If you don’t believe me, in what I say,

I’ll call in Prince George! And he’ll soon clear the way.

Prince George

Here comes I Prince George

From England I have come

I have fought in many ‘s the war

But never came undone

Samson thought he was a brave man

But he couldn’t conquer me.

“You’re a liar Sir!”

Take out your sword and try me!

(George is killed)

Doctor, Doctor, is there a Doctor?

Doctor Brown

Here comes I wee Doctor Brown, the best wee Doctor in the town.

I cured a woman from Oughterlin who swallowed a crowbar and a harrow tin. (thought to be the teacher?)

I cured another from Carrigart, who ate the shaft out of a donkey cart

And I cured a man from Glenvar who ate the engine of an old Ford car.

I could cure the gun without the gout and if there were nine devils in I could knock ten out.

I have a little bottle in my inside pocket !

Hocus! Pocus ! Rise up dead man and fight again! (life restored)

If you don’t believe me, in what I say, I’ll call in Jack Straw.

Jack Straw

Here comes I, Jack Straw, the funniest man you ever saw

through a needle through a pin through an old harrow tin

Through a riddle, through a reel, through an old spinning wheel

Through a sheep’s shank, shin bone or through a barrel of treacle

If you don’t believe me, in what I say, I’ll call in Beelzebub


Here comes I, Beelzebub, and over my shoulder I carry a club.

In my hand a frying pan and I’m not afraid of any man.

If you don’t believe me, in what I say, I’ll call in Devil Doubt.

Devil Doubt

Here comes I wee Devil Doubt

I’m the man with the crooked snout.

Money I want and money I crave

If I don’t get money I’ll send you all to the grave.

If you don’t believe me, in what I say, I’ll call in Johnny Funny.

Johnny Funny

Here comes I, Johnny Funny, I’m the man ‘collects the money

All silver, no brass, bad coins won’t pass

If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do

But if you haven’t got a ha’penny, God Bless you.

So ladies & gentlemen sitting by the fire,

put your hands in your pockets and give us our desire.

After some money was put in the money box the entire group would sing a song or two.

In some houses more money would be offered for an extra song.

At the end of the night the proceeds would be divided equally among the Mummers.

List of songs:

On top of Old Smokey

Goodnight Irene

Mocking Bird Hill

Wild Colonial Boy

Doggie in the Window

Dawning of the Day.

- Hugh Doherty


Hugh Doherty

Michael Devenney

Dolores O' Kelly

Sharon Clarke

Elizabeth Russell

Tilly Hyndman

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