Geography

Newcastle, Athenry, Folklore 1937 (Part 2 )

Source: National Folklore Collection, N.U.I. Dublin

Compiled by Fas Teamwork Scheme 1990/1992. Sponsors: Athenry Project Society. Team Leader: Mrs. Marie Fahy.

Boreens

The Shudane Boreen was making in 1846 the time of the famine. The women as well as the men were working on it. The men got 6” a day and the women got 3”. Every evening the women had to go over to Gurteen for a can of Indian meal. It was at the house of Mr. Pat Carr of Gurteen the meal was kept. It used to be boiling in a pot all day and it was always more water than meal the poor people used to get. During the famine the roads were making and the men got only sixpence a day and the women got threepence and during this time a woman named Mrs. Qualter died on the road and was buried in a drain in a bog by the landlord’s orders.

There is a road named the “bush road” in the middle of the village. It is so called because a tragedy took place there long ago and an old man who was cutting the bush climbed it to take from it a child who was sitting on a branch, he had the tree half cut and when he was up on it, it fell and killed him and wounding the child who was taken to a hospital and died a few days later. It is said that there is a ghost at the self-same place to this day and no-one ever passes it after midnight.

Julia Cloonan, age 13, got the account of the village of Clough from her grandmother Honoria Cloonan, Clough, Colemanstown, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.

The name of my village is Clough. It is in the parish of Gurteen and Clough is the name of the townland. It is called Clough or “Cloc” because of all the stones that are scattered through the fields. There are twenty two houses in it now and there were the same number seventy years ago. Most of the houses are thatched. There being only four slated houses in the village. There are about five people over 70 years in the village. They all can talk Irish and can tell stories in Irish.

Forges and Blacksmiths

In Newcastle a man lived named Pat Madden and his family. He was a Blacksmith. He had a forge and himself and his family used to work at the trade on the side of the main road where Thomas Whelan is now living. His forge was situated Madden’s Forge was thatched. Another family of Blacksmiths were living in Clonkeen named Thomas Heavey. He died about 20 years ago. The bellows is the instrument that blows the fire for the blacksmith. Without this he could not work. The tools are: the anvil – what he uses for making all implements on, the shoeing pinchers, shoeing hammer, a rasp, another tool called a cutter and a knife for paring the horses hoof. He always uses a 10lb sledge for sledging out the shoes, ploughs, etc. The animals shod are asses and horses. Blacksmiths make ploughs, scuffles, spades and slaines. Part of the harrow is made by the carpenter and it is mounted by iron by the Blacksmith. He puts on the tyres of wheels in the open air. This is called shoeing a wheel. The reason he does this work in the open air is because he has to put down a big fire to redden the tyre before it goes on the wheel. He cools it off with cold water and while its cooling its tightening the joints of the wheels.

Story about the Holy Family

When the Holy Family had to leave Bethlehem and go into Egypt to avoid danger from King Herod through the desert, and as they were crossing the desert they came upon a hungry child that fell from a caravan that was crossing the desert too. The Blessed Virgin went to give some of the bread and water that they had for their own use to the hungry child. We are told St. Joseph rebuked her for giving the bread and water away. Around that spot where they met the child they made their camp for the night. We are told that when they woke in the morning the grandest spring well that was never seen before in a desert, along with an orchard of every kind of edible fruit that one could wish to eat appeared. St. Joseph could see then that he had no right to say anything to the Blessed Virgin for giving the bread and water to the child and from that day to this day there is no one that crosses the desert but puts a night over them in that spot.

Fairs

There used to be fairs held long ago in Monivea. There are fairs held on Ascension Thursday and Corpus Christi. They are held in the green and buyers buy stock there. There is a fair held in Athenry on the first Thursday of each month, but there are 3 day fairs in May, pigs the 3rd May, sheep 4th May and cattle the 5th. These are always very large fairs. The October fair is supposed to be the largest fair throughout the year because it’s at that fair all the farmers try to dispose of their stock that they feed on the farm during the summer months and they wouldn’t be able to feed them in the winter months. During the winter months you have in hand with hay, turnips, etc. During the summer months they fatten on the grass. You give 1” lucky money for a pig, 2” out of cattle, you give that to the buyer and then you have to pay custom money to a man that owns the custom of the town. You have to pay that when you are going home whether you sold or not. When they have the bargains made they shake hands and they raddle the beasts with blue and red raddle. When the stock are bought, every buyer that comes to the fair has his own private mark and he puts that on with a scissors, he cuts the hair or wool in a certain way so he will know his beast again no matter where he sees him. There were fairs held long ago in Tubberbracken in a country field in the parish of Clarenbridge, about 6 miles from Athenry. There is no fair held there now because there was no train in accommodation for taking the stock away when bought.

Landlords

General Hall was the first landlord of this property and after his death, his son Captain Hall was the next landlord. After the Captain’s death Major Henry Hall was the landlord up to 1908, and in that year Major Hall sold his property to the Irish Land Commission, Dublin and all his farms were divided by the Irish Land Commission and given over to his tenants. The Halls owned this property near 100 years. The last landlord is about 70 years old and is still living in the north of Ireland. The people thought him a great landlord. He thought to evict a few families about 45 years ago for non-payment of rent but the Land League was too strong at that time and the priests and people stopped the landlord from carrying out the eviction. General Hall bought this property about 100 years ago from the Burkes of Tiaquin. The landlord had great power over his tenants. He was paid twice a year in cash and if you hadn’t cash he would take crops or stock. Every landlord had his own bailiff. You could not do anything in your land but the bailiff would have told your landlord.

Mary O’Donnell (Age 13), Tourkeel got another account of other Landlords from her father John O’Donnell, Tourkeel, Attymon, Athenry, Co. Galway.

John Tighe was landlord of Tourkeel. When he died Dominick Leonard succeeded in his place. Colonel Nolan was landlord of Cappamoyle and Lisdoran. John Bodkin was landlord of Ballyboggin and Bengarra. Dominick Leonard banished Martin Donagh out of his house about the years 1875-76. John Bodkin banished 100 families from their houses one May day because on that day they had not the money to pay rent and rates.   

Julia Cloonan (Age 13), Clough got the following account of “Clothes Making” from her Grandmother Honoria Cloonan, Clough, Colemanstown, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

Clothes Making

Long ago if a person wanted a suit of clothes he would go the the weaver with a couple stones of wool. The weaver used to put the wool into a pot of water and black dye. He used to leave it boiling for two days and then he would put it on a sieve to drain. When it used to be drained he used to leave it to dry for a day or so and then the women would spin the wool and the weaver would weave the waft. Then a wheel called a “carding wheel” was taken to the weavers house and the wool and the waft used to be woven together and when it was woven the cloth used to be called “frieze”. Then the tailor used to come to a barn in the village with his requirements and he used to stay until the clothes were all made. The weaver in this district lived in Gurteen and his name was Thomas Cunniffe.

Julia Cloonan (Age 13), Clough got the following account of a Giant from her Grandmother Honoria Cloonan, Clough, Colemanstown, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

A Giant

It is thought that a giant called “Micheál Gráine” was living in Tiaquin long long ago. One day he invited Fionn and his men to a feast. When Fionn arrived at the castle there was no one there but he went in all the same. No sooner were they within when they fell in a heap on the floor and then the whole house began to get small and a voice outside said that unless the “Fianna” could kill the 200 inhabitants of Tiaquin before sunrise every man in their ranks would die. The 200 inhabitants of Tiaquin were quartered into bands of nine and were fixed at certain points. One man “Diarmuid” was late in coming and so on hearing Fionn’s tale of woe from inside the walls of the doorless house he attacked each party. Just as the sun was rising he had the 200 people killed.

Hurling of Long Ago

Long ago all the football and hurling matches used to be held in Attymon. There were people in the district for driving the players to the field. The man who owned the side car for driving the players in this district was Thomas Mahon, Newcastle. The players used to be bare-footed and used to wear flannel “baneens” embroidered with green thread, and small knitted caps on their heads and soft knitted belts. The games used to be played between two villages and if both parties got the same amount of “points” the race home between the two side-cars would decide the matter.

Eileen Donelan (Age 13), Templemoyle got the following account from her father John Donelan, Templemoyle, Monivea, Co. Galway

Mermaids

Mermaids are supposed to be half a woman and half a fish and they have gills like a fish which enables them to swim under the sea. They are supposed to have the loveliest of pearl gardens under the sea and they work very hard to keep them tidy. They have sea horses also which help them to travel from one garden to another. They have a King who is said gives a prize of a well-trained sea horse at certain times to whichever of the mermaids has the nicest sea garden.

Old Ruins

There is an old ruin in Templemoyle graveyard which was to be a Chapel long ago but it was not finished. In the part of this old Chapel that still remains there are two small windows much the shape of the Chapel windows of now but they are much smaller. This was an all stone building which was begun about the year 1799. It is said that when the men were building this Chapel an old woman passed by them one day and did not say “God bless the work” and then the men did not finish it.

Churches

There is an old ruin in Thomas Jordan’s land which was at one time a Church. It is said that one night long ago angels came there to build seven Churches and they were to have them built in the morning. At that time there lived an old witch in Bengarra and that night that the angels were to build the Churches she came out of her house in Bengarra and when she saw the light where they were building, the angels flew away and built the seven Churches in Glendalough.

Julia Cloonan (Age 13), Clough got this account of Shops from her Grandmother Honoria Cloonan, Clough, Colemanstown, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

Shops

There were four shops in Newcastle long ago. The names of the people who owned the shops were Mr. Tom Feeney, Mr. James Burke, Mrs. Mary Burke who had another shop and Mrs. Sally Corbett. There was a forge as well as a shop belonging to Mr. Feeney and he used to shoe horses free for any farmer who would give him scrap-iron. Mr. Burke lived just beyond the bog and the bridge of Licklea. Mrs. Burke owned a small shop and she had also a “shebeen” where she kept drink or “poteen” unknown to the police. If she saw anyone making “poteen” she would threaten to tell the police if they did not give her some. Mrs. Corbett used to sell loaf bread.

An Gobán Saor

There was a king in Ireland long ago who gave an order that all over sixty years should be put to death. On the day that the king gave that order the gobán soar was just 60 years of age. He hid in a cave behind his house and then he being unable to earn money for his son and his son’s wife he sent his son to work for the king. One evening the king came to the place where the men were working and said “I will give £5 tomorrow morning to the man who will be able to tell me what side is the upper side of a stick when the stick is cut and planed”. When the gobáns son arrived home that evening he told his father of what the king had said. “A” said the gobán “he is only trying to find out where I am for there is no man in Ireland knows that but I, anyway earn your £5. So the son got the five pounds. That evening the king page 233 missing pages until page 242 see below the gobán hit him and knocked him senseless on the ground. Then he dressed himself in the guard’s clothes and went out unnoticed.

Old Crosses

In nearly every house there is a trap door in the ceiling in which St. Brigid’s cross, St. Joseph’s cloak, St. Patrick’s cross are kept. St. Brigid’s cross was made from rushes and glue. St. Patrick’s cross was made from tin, rushes and glue. St. Joseph’s cloak was made beautifully, first rushes were taken, then covered with plain white cloth on which was painted every colour. Then a gold cord was put around the neck of it and the people regard it as the best of the relics of long ago. Then there is St. Brigid’s cloak made in much the same manner.

Woven Articles

Baskets, ropes, whips cloaks and St. Brigid’s and St. Patrick’s crosses were woven long ago.

Nora Jordan (Age 13), Shudane got the following account of Graveyards from her uncle Thomas Jordan, Shudane, Monivea, Co. Galway.

Graveyards

Templemoyle is the only graveyard in this half-parish. There are about 3,024 acres of land enclosed inside the walls. It is a very old graveyard about two or three hundred years old. There are people still buried in it, in fact all the people of Newcastle and even some from the surrounding parishes are buried there also. There is an old ruin of an old Church in the graveyard. People are buried as far in as the foundation of the ruin. There is only one tree in it and the old people say that there is always a hare asleep under the same tree. A story about Templemoyle graveyard that no matter what side a funeral comes there is always a hare seen from the same direction across the field to the Templemoyle graveyard. Several ornamental tombstones are to be seen, the most outstanding one is the tombstone erected to the memory of Mayor Albert Clarke of Graigabbey. There are many places in this parish where unbaptised babies are buried. They are called “liseens”. There is one of those in Earls’s lands of Shudane, one in James Donellan’s land of Newcastle and one in Thomas Glynn’s land of Ballyboggin. Those recent years some people bury unbaptised babies in the “liseens” and others bury them in the graveyard.

A Story

Fr. Michael Morris of Tysaxon, a priest in this diocese, a native of Tysaxon one night as he was passing the graveyard around midnight a woman appeared to him, and she crying outside the graveyard wall. He had no courage to speak to her. If he had he might be the means of saving her. In a week after she appeared to him near his house where he was accompanied by his brother at the same time of night she said nothing to him but passed away. The old people say that he being a priest this woman came to him for help but when he had not the courage to speak to her she went some other way for aid.

Woven Articles

The people used to make straw mats out of straw as large as one of the kitchen doors, and that mat would be placed inside the door any night a storm would arise so as to keep out the wind and make the house comfortable. There are people in this parish still able to make these mats.

Eileen Donelan (Age 13), Templemoyle got this account of Graveyards from her father John Donelan, Templemoyle, Monivea, Co. Galway

Graveyards

There are five graveyards in the parish of Athenry. The Old Abbey, the NewCemetery, the Athenry Churchyard, Templemoyle Graveyard and there is one in Lisheen Kyle. The Templemoyle graveyard and the Old Abbey are the two oldest graveyards in the parish and there are people still buried in the Templemoyle one. It is surrounded by a cement wall but long ago it was a stone wall and sheep and cattle used to knock it every night. In this graveyard there is a large tomb which belongs to a family of Kelly’s who are thought to be dead now and there is nobody buried in it. There are two white headstones made of marble in the Templemoyle graveyard also and there is a more beautiful one erected in memory of Mayor Albert Clarke of Graigabbey. It is said that this headstone cost hundreds of pounds. In the Old Abbey in Athenry there are very few people buried now. After the Friars who lived in the Old Abbey were put to death and their monastery knocked a Friar appeared to a boy from Athenry while himself and another boy were looking at headstones one day. When one of the boys saw the monk dressed as if he were alive he asked his comrade if he saw him but his comrade could not see him. Several people came there when the boy told them he saw one of the Friars but no-one ever saw him after that.

Story

One night a man named Michael Connor, Mountpelier was going home from a visit and it was very late as he had been card playing that night. On his way home he had to pass by Templemoyle graveyard and not being a courageous man he kept looking into the graveyard as he thought perhaps he would see a ghost. At that time there was only a stone wall around the graveyard and cattle could get in and just as Michael Connor was passing a headstone a strange feeling came over him as he thought he saw a person standing by the headstone and it was stirring up and down. Just then a large white bullock walked away from the headstone. This calmed his fear and it is believed that the bullock belonged to the lands surrounding the graveyard and that he got in where the wall was knocked.

Gertrude Curran (Age 13), Cappamoyle got the following account of Contests from her father John Curran, Cappamoyle, Monivea, Co. Galway.

Contests

There was no battle fought in this village but there was a field in which contests were fought. During these contests the two men always fought with stumps of sticks. Nearly everyone around used to come to watch and there used always be an ambulance to take the two men to a home for their wounds to be looked after. There was however a very sad coincidence with these contests for a young man named Patrick Murphy of Monivea was fighting with a much older man, he received a very bad wound in the hand. He had it dressed up and it was quick by healing when he fell one day and sprained it and poisoned it and a month after he died from it at the age of twenty six.

The Fairy Fishes

The old people thought that there was either a fairy salmon or a fairy mackerel under the water. The fish was supposed to be seen any day during the month of May and if anyone went near the lake they were sure to be brought down to the castle under the water where the fish lived.

Nora Jordan (Age 13), Shudane got this account of old crosses from her uncle Thomas Jordan, Shudane, Monivea, Co. Galway.

Old Crosses

In several houses of the parish those crosses of St. Brigid and St. Patrick are hung up in the thatch, some people make these crosses out of sheaves of oats. It is like plaiting together. The people had superstition about them that it would keep harm away from the house. There is a story told about a poor woman and her son that went to visit the baby Jesus when he was born. They had no money to offer him but they brought him a sprig of holly that they had sowed in a pot. As they offered it to him as a gift and himself and his mother accepted this gift the baby Jesus left his hand on it and there is a story told that holly is blessed since.

Holy Water

The water that is blessed on Easter Saturday; there is a special blessing attached to it and that it cannot get that blessing any other time of the year. All the people bring home a bottle of it and each person drinks one mouthful of it. If a thunder storm came this holy water would be shaken against the windows and doors of the house so as to keep the harm away and the same is done with Whitsuntide water.

Julia Cloonan (Age 13), Clough got this Story from her Grandmother Honoria Cloonan, Clough, Colemanstown, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

A Story

In the village of Tysaxon, the time of the Fianna rising in 1846 there lived a Saxon called Manus Tighe. He was a strong opposer of the rebels for that was the name that was given by the English land owners to the Fianna. He had arranged with the landlord Major Hall to meet him at a certain grove of trees between Tysaxon and Currantarimid, but he never got there for he was shot by Dermot Murphy of Tiaquin who was a steward at Halls and who heard of Tighe’s prospect of going to meet the landlord and shot him.

A Holy Site

When three men named Micheal Jordan, Patsy Ruan and Micheal Birmingham were returning from visit one night in 1864. They saw three men walking around the site where the Newcastle Chapel is built now. A cross was in one of their hands, a host in another and the third man held a beautiful set of “stations of the cross”. They knew then that they were angels and they were not afraid.

The Old School

About six months after the old school was closed in Newcastle a man called Pat Feeney of Newcastle who is now dead and was returning from visit one night he heard great talk and music in the old school. “Bedad” said he to himself “ye have great fun in there ye boys”, so he went to the door and knocked, just then the music stopped and five black robed figures appeared. Each one groaned and said a curse and they disappeared.