Places, — March 6, 2010 17:26 — 0 Comments

Sheetrim: 1920s

I have but the faintest memory of the social, economic and cultural customs of the long ago but still of living memory, and in attempting the following record I have had to borrow heavily from that of my mother who was born into a tiny mixed farm near Cullyhanna in the early 1920’s. 

In my first early visits to this same farm thirty years later I experienced a new world, wholly removed from that of The Meadow estate just outside of Newry Town. 

 

My mum, still a young lady but with six hungry mouths to feed (in addition to Sonny and herself) would return on the Cross bus laden down with food: we loved the home-made breads, the jams and the milk but we loathed the sour, salty ‘country butter’. ‘Waste not, want not’ was the motto and every scrap was eaten. There was little enough in the shops (if you had money to buy) and the war-time food coupons had not yet been completely scrapped. 

 

I marvelled at the great apparent food surplus (it was a myth) in Sheetrim and often wondered why these folks, who had everything, would want to come to town in search of work.

 

In reality they were just as poor as us – my granny, granddad and Uncle Jamesy and his family – and could well be doing with the few pence their sometimes surplus food supplies would bring in. But hospitality is the nature of Irish country folk and especially towards their own. 

 

It was only later, when now and then a few of us got the chance to spend a few days on ‘holiday’ in Sheetrim that the limitations of life there became apparent. 

 

 more later …

 

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