John McCullagh November 24, 2006
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My name’s Tommy Morrow and I was telling you about my life after I ran away from home at a very early age. The little house I rented for 9d a week became a ceili house …


….. for all the young lads. I sometimes had to steal to eat! I’ll tell you about one of my stealing episodes.

One evening I smelt a chicken boiling in a neighbour’s house and I thought,

‘I’m going to boil me a chicken’.

I had a big old pot that Seamus Magill had given me. I think, his mother, God rest her, was looking for it up to the time of her death!

At that time McComb’s had in their back yard what they called a ‘safe’ – the kind people kept meat or pigeons in before the days of refrigerators. Mrs McComb kept onions and potatoes and carrots and everything like that in it.

Now in my house that night there were, I think, Dan Magill, Seamus Magill, Tom Canavan and Tommy McComb. I had a rule with them guys. They were all a few years younger than me and if they wanted to come to my house they had to bring something with them. So that night I said,

‘I’m going to make soup and you guys have to get the ingredients’.

I didn’t even know what ingredients were then! They said,

‘But where’s the chicken?’

I said,

‘Don’t you worry about the chicken. I’ll get the chicken!’

So they went to get the ingredients out of McComb’s safe and I went out the back of the house. I crossed the river – and mind you, there was a fair bit of water in it. I slipped quietly into Peter Gribben’s hen-house. I watched and listened and I opened the door and I got this hen by the head and wings, so it couldn’t make a noise, and then I out and across the river again.

I sat on my steps with my feet soaking and I clubbed it – cut off the head and feet, and plucked it well and put it in the pot. The boys had brought the ingredients so we put in the onions and carrots and everything, and put it on the fire. After a while it began to smell really good.

Then about a half an hour later, the whole thing exploded!

We had forgot to open it up. We didn’t know the chicken’s insides had to be cleared out! We laughted but it took ages to redd up after it.

That was my first experience of cooking a chicken. 

One of poor Peter Gribben’s chickens!

… Hippy ? …

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