Conrad Arensberg Notebook 2

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Page 147

Wednesday 22nd March cont. In this case the
woman in charge was the mother of the dead
woman. Then it was said to me that
the people of the same name who usually
carry out the coffin are in that case the
four White boys –sons of her brother who
has a farm over by the Liscannor.
Mrs Carey said she didn’t hear of four
brothers doing it before. She wanted to
know from John if it was a big funeral
and he said it wasn’t. (about 100 people there).
She’d gone over if she’d heard of it earlier.
That evening no one in (John was
expected to stay longer at the funeral, it seems,
broke away early). Johnnie (old) Carey kept
talking away - told stories and talked
about fishing. For the past three years
no fish have come in to the Bay
(Doolin Bay) - they used to come in
great numbers but you could go down to

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the lakes and pull in one after another.
But they don’t be coming in any more - the
French trawlers are dragging the bottom
and killing everything. Talk of the Muirchú,

Re-commissioned in 1923 the Muirchú was a coast guard vessel under the control of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was built in the Liffey Dockyards and originally named Helga II and involved in the shelling of the GPO in 1916. See Share, Bernard The Emergency.

the government boat - wishing it could be
down here. Aran islanders row out to
the French boats and supply them with
potatoes and potcheen - get the smaller
fish from them - they are not worth anything on
the ship. The Doolin fisherman from
Fisher street don’t go out very much any
more. Should be trying hooks - told
stories of how they used to salvage
boards and stuff from the sea under
the cliffs - going down at night. The
Coast guard warden? watcher? got a
timber of the each house, etc.
Used to have to do it at night
because the coast guard wantedget
to descendto scavenge themselves.

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Told stories of Aran Islands - the first time
they went out there with a football -
a priest organized them into a team
and they went out to play the Aran men.
They had a grand day – and the Aran
men were very laughable - they didn't
know what to do with the ball etc.
they beat them.

He told a story which was a
traditional pattern - a moral? of Cinderella.
And another on how he lost his
hair ( he’s quite bald). He told it to
the three professors from Galway who came
down looking for Irish. They didn’t
do it right - they came about ten o’clock
in the morning and called at the
house of an old fellow there (Cúcú O’Brien).
A great old play boy - he was
just getting up, they told him to get
into the motor and gave him some
into the motor and gave him some

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out of them (city fellows). They went up the roads
as far as Carrigphobail and when they
saw old people they stopped and asked them
if they had Irish - one friend of his was
helping a neighbour put in hay and they
stopped him and he said he hadn’t
any Irish - and he’s one of the best


here. He didn’t know them.
Finally they found Delargy and he got a
lot of stories from them for the professor.
Cúcú O’Brien thought he’d be taken to
the University (Galway) on the trip they
were taken in to tell stories into a machine
up there but they didn’t do if (he held
out for a suit of clothes from Delargy and
was left behind).

The story of the hair losing was this:
He was just a little boy and his father
was in Limerick (for some reason) and
his mother had to send someone down to

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(as something) this hazy. At any rate he thought he
could get to Limerick in a day, and he
knew it was behind Mt Callen so he set
out going straight across the land over fields
and bogs and ditches and drains.
After he got to Mt Cullen top it was dark
and he had no where to go he was
walking along the road and he met a
black man and he was in dread of his life
but the black man told him not to be afraid
and made him walk along with him they
were both going to Limerick. They saw a
light in a house and made for it and
when they got in there was no one there
but a girl asleep in a chair by the
fire and a bit of meat and praties
on the fire - a goose. The blackman
took the goose and aite it, but
Johnnie wouldn’t take any of it. Now
the blackman saw a loft upstairs and
he made of Johnnie go up there with

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him, for they were to sleep there for
the night. Pretty soon After a little the woman of the
house came in and looked into the pot
saw nothing left of? the goose. Waking up the
girl she berated her and then when
the three brothers of the house came in
she told them about it. They said
there must be a robber in it and they looked
up into the loft. But when they saw the
blackman they ran away as fast as they
could out of the house. Later when the
moon rose the two got up and continued
on their walk. Johnnie got rid of the
blackman by hiding from him in a
bog-ditch with only the top of his head
above the water – the blackman
touched his hair of his head but didn’t
find him. Now Johnnie set out again
and came to another house. Here
he told his story to the woman of the house

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and she gave him some praties and let him
sleep in the loft but she told him he was
in a robbers’ house. When the three robbers
came in they were angry and said he was
probably a spy, so they put him in
barrel and carried him away to
quite a time so he couldn’t know where
the house was and left the barrel in
a field. By grabbing the tail of a bullock
out through the breaking hole of the barrel
Johnnie had himself dropped to the road.
A carter walking along into a load
of flour and grain and he stopped to
retrieve the barrel thinking another carter
had dropped - he broke it open with an axe
bar but in the third blow Johnnie cried out and
he ran off in fright. Johnnie got up on
the car of flour and took it home -
they never could find the carter again.
(That story was told with a smile and
was not intended to be truth, of course).

Page 154

Thurs. the 23rd March

This day the weather having dried off the fields
the Careys were sowing potatoes. First was the
chore of cutting the seed potatoes and then
the ends not budding being kept for the
pig. This was Mrs Carey’s job and she said
later that she wouldn’t go out sowing them
(spreading them) because she’d was the best
in cutting them. Then they were taken up
and put into the drills - the young wife was doing this carrying them either in apron
or in a bucket or pan – moving backwards
putting them down bud upwards at about
6 inches apart in the trench between between the drills. Then the
men came along heaping the earth up
over them completing the drills. John was
going to plow tomorrow - this was being/hay/long? ?
first some sides of the garden
where the plow couldn’t be effectively

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I might record here that later on this evening when
conservation turned to the subject -
they said that spreading of the potatoes was
always the woman’s work the men
wouldn’t be so good at it - because
the men had longer backs -
a tall woman like Mrs Danaher or
a tall woman like Mrs Danaher or

Mrs Carey went on to describe other
farm work: after the sowing of the
potatoes there was the
turf cutting and making -
they usually begin that in April
or as soon as its dry enough and
can do that right up to the end of
June. Then there is the weeding etc.
and the haymaking in the summer.
she described in detail the turf making
when it was part of the women to knead

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the turf into blocks and to put into the baskets
on the asses backs to take it out to the
road. Then every family joins in the
haymaking togeher the men do the
mowing alone.

News came of the fact that four
poor people in Liscannor had drawn a horse in
the sweep and they were discussed at length.
They were a Mrs Leydon who kept a pub,
a blocker (who lives by trading
horses and is not a tinker), a Carty
who its separated from his wife -
led her a terrible life etc.
and another a young lad of a farmer’s son.
They’ll be going up to Dublin.
Its too bad the young lad got it for
he’ll drink it all up - he’s a drinker.

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