Mickey the Pluck ..

Peter Sloan also told of how his young sister used to weep at the cries of the geese that were being plucked alive on Omeath Mountain. The down and feathers was prized as stuffing for mattresses and furniture – and here it was being packed into bed-ticks for transport down the mountain. The feathers, of course, grew again!

The plucking was done by four brothers b’ the name of McCrink from Carrickbroad – up beyond Clontygora and towards Kilnasaggart! Not surprisingly, they were known b’ the name of their trade: Thomas the Feather, and Mickey the Pluck, and so on!

Then with their bed-ticks full and ballooning high above their stooped backs, they’d climb over the mountain towards home, for all the world like so many ‘Finn MacCools’, said Peter, on’y their burdens were light. Old shipping manifests note that the bales of feathers were exported from Newry to Liverpool and many other northern English towns.

The four brothers were also noted traditional singers – in Gaelic. Indeed the renowned collector and Catholic priest, Father Luke Donnellan, had them recorded using one of those early machines with wax cylinders to make records.

These recordings – along with hundreds of others, including your editor’s own great grandfather from Lisavvery, one John McKeown, another Gaelic scholar, singer and story-teller – are still preserved in the archives of the Department of Folklore in University College, Dublin.

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