John McCullagh May 1, 2005
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As well as ration books for food and fruit, households were issued with clothing and sweet coupons.  Because of the shortage of material and the need for coupons, it was not unusual to have old garments unpicked and remade into other clothes for children. 

I had one such garment, a brown serge suit trimmed with mustard which had been an old coat belonging to one of my aunts. Woollen garments were also unpicked, the wool washed and a new garment then re-knitted.

Bought clothing usually carried a utility mark indicating that the item was ‘seconds’.  My nay-blue school knickers bore this mark; they also had a pocket in each leg.  When clothing coupons ran out, new clothing could be secured only by a trip across the border.  Then the worst of your old clothes were worn on the outward journey, to be replaced on the trip home by those you had purchased.  Dundalk or Dublin was the destination.  Soft furnishings such as curtain lace also had to be smuggled across the border. 

 On one of these shopping trips I was swaddled in yards of lace. However when I arrived home and the unwrapping began, the lace had disappeared! This remains a mystery to this day.

 My father had a very sweet tooth. The sweet coupons in my parents’ home were used up far in advance of their due date. Every now and again sweet shops would get in a supply of sweets for which coupons were not needed. (The shop owners were probably doing their own bit of smuggling!)

Anyway my sister Patsy and I scoured the area in search of these goodies. When we struck lucky, the pockets in our knickers proved very useful for storing the few extra sweets before share-out!!

Patsy  had a built-in radar for finding sweets and on one occasion she found a secret hoard that my mother had been laying by for Christmas.  My brother John and her had a grand time before the day of reckoning came!!

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