I was born the 9th of the 9th, 1949, so I’ll be 58 in 2007. I have seven children, and we work for South Dublin County Council, caretaking St. Aidan’s halting site here in Brookfield. We’re here since the 6th of June 1986,so we’re 22 years here.
S: The first thing I wanted to ask you was, what part of the country would be where you feel at home?
S: What is your part of the country? Donegal? Dublin?
Ah! I originally come from Cashel, Co. Tipperary.
S: And is that where the Reillys are based?
S: All the Reillys? Or just your branch of them?
Well, the majority of them.
S: And what about the Hutchinsons?
The Hutchinsons come from Birr and my husband¹s family lived originally, all their life they were from Birr, but they lived in Cloughjordan. Co. Tipperary. They lived there all their life.
S: And would the Reillys marry Hutchinsons, normally?
Not really, no.
S: Who do the Reillys mostly marry?
They always married, sort of, into their own.
S: Into Reillys?
Into their cousins.
S: So what names would that be?
Well, they could be Caseys, and Purcells, and Reillys again. It¹s mostly all their own, like. Those names in particular is very popular.
S: Reilly, Purcell, and Casey, would be the main ones? You married out, into Hutchinson.
And McDonaghs. McDonaghs up here and McDonaghs down the country is different.
S: Different people altogether. What would those McDonaghs call themselves?
S: But, you know what I mean, there’s about a million different types of McDonaghs, there’s the Happies and
Yeah, but the McDonaghs, now, that I’m talking about, now, would be related into ourself, they’d be from Limerick.
S: Okay, And they’re different people altogether from… Okay. What do you call the language you talk at home, or the language you talk when you don’t want country people to understand?
Ah… well, we call it Cant. Like, it’s our own language. It’s mostly Gammon. We call it Gammon.
S: Okay. So, the Reillys would call it Gammon.
S: And who do you hear calling it Cant?
Well, a lot of the people up here, now, they call it, er, Cant.
S: That’s why I asked you what
you call it, because different families call it different things.
Cant, yeah. Well, we call it Gammon.
S: So would I be right then to say then, probably, that the Reillys and the Caseys call it Gammon?
S: And: just pretend that I’m a Martian. I’ve never met a Reilly! I don’t know who the Reillys are. Tell me about the Reillys. What kind of people are they? What kind of work did they do? What kind of travelling did they do…?
Erm.. Well, mostly they travel, like, in the summertime. They travel a lot. They leave their houses, and they just buy a trailer, and they go out for the whole complete summer. And when it’s turning winter then, they turn back, and they go back into their houses.
S: Did they always have houses in the winter?
They always did that.
S: So, even going back to your grandparents’ time, they had a house for the winter?
Yeah. Yeah. And they a lot of them don¹t work
, but they always folly up the horse fairs, they always go to the horse fairs, and they always sell and deal horses, buying horses and all that. And they go sulky racing, which is horse racing. They do that maybe every Sunday. Could be of a Sunday, or could be of a Saturday, when the traffic would be, sort of, light on the roads. And they’d pick a particular place, because it’s not every place that they can go trotting. They’d have to have, like, a waste road, that there’d be no traffic on, that they could go trotting. And they do that for sport! That’s their sport. And sometimes they go off with their dogs of a Sunday, hunting rabbits. And they could stay out then from the early morning till maybe 4 or 5 o’clock in the evening, just hunting rabbits. Some of them bring the rabbits back, and more of them, they just sort of get rid of them, when they kill them. Because it’s a sport that they have always … been in the tradition, of Travellers.
S: Do they sell on the rabbits, or just leave them?
Some of them eats them, but then more of them won’t eat them because, over this disease
S: The myxomatosis.
Yeah. It turned people off them, because it’s an awful disease
S: It’s horrible.
And it’s terrible to see an animal, like, with that disease. Me myself, when I was young, I used to eat them. I used to cook them with bacon, onions, and make stew with them. But now I wouldn’t touch them, because it totally disgust me when I see them with the disease.
S: You’ve seen them, yeah?
I have, yeah. It totally turned me off. Completely. I just wouldn’t touch them.
S: Yeah, it was a really horrible way to kill them.
It’s an awful disease. Like poor dumb animals! They’re not doing anything to anybody! I know, like, people it’s just like foxhunting. You know, everyone have their own sort of, lifestyle of hunting and all that. But, to die with a bad disease! It’s like somebody dying of AIDS.
S: It is, actually, Because once or twice I’ve seen rabbits with in the last stages.
It’s terrible! It’s disgusting.
S: Okay! To get back onto more cheerful topics: the men would do horses, and for sport they would do horse racing, and hunting. Do they do markets?
Some of them does the markets. Sometimes, mostly, the women that don¹t drive, the men would drive the vans to the markets, and then the women would sell the stuff on the markets. Some of them. They sells all sorts. They sell, like, lino, carpets, you know, all different stuff. More of them might buy a load of household stuff, and they’d sell that through the markets.
S: Kind of, selling swag in the market, kind of way?
S: And what about either the Reillys or the Hutchinsons, now: what about things like entertainment at the fairs? Three card tricks, wheel of fortune and all that kind of stuff?
Well, a lot of that is gone out. You don’t see…
S: Well, when it was in.
Well, when it was, some of the elderly men would sing. They would sing whatever different song that they would actually know, and sung theirself. They would sing for entertainment.
S: Was that the Rellys, the Hutchinsons, or both?
Both! And sometimes then they might play the accordion, and they might get some of their own children, maybe, to do a step dance.
S: Let’s see, what else tinsmithing?
My father done tinsmithing, he done it for years and years. He used to make his own buckets, galvanised, and what they call a quart gallon, It used to be that height, and it had a handle like a big jug. For lifting water out of a tank. Or he used to make little measures, then, for probably measuring flour and all that. He’d sell them through the markets. And he also used make little three-legged corner tables. Little round table, that you¹d put sitting in a corner.
S: Out of what? Out of wood, or…?
Some of the times he’d make them out of ash. You know the ash stick? The stick would only have to be about that size. And more times he’d use elder. You know the elder stick?
S: I do.
He’d use the elder stick but he’d have to pull the skin off and leave it dry out. He’d have to sort of keep the stick straight, but he’d have to let it completely dry out, because the elder can be very wet, even winter or summer. You have to peel it and let it dry out, let it season, before you could do anything with it.
S: So he knew about the different types of timber, and how to use them. And you say he sold them to the markets: did your mother or your sisters or yourself ever go round house to house, selling?
My mother used to make pockets, You know the little pockets, you used to see the older people with them on the side? She used to make a pile of those, and
S: For the country people?!
Yeah. And the elderly women used to love them.
S: Did country people wear those?
Yeah, they did.
S: Really!? I thought it was only Travellers.
No, the elderly people used to love them, because…
S: Well, they’re handy. They’re great!
But I don¹t see any there’s not many of them, actually, today. But my mother used to make a pile of them, and she used to buy the stuff and make her own plaid skirts. You know the Celtic skirts? Long ones. She used make those, she used also sell those. Those used go flying!
[“were bought very quickly”]
People used to love them.
S: And did she sell those in the markets? Or door to door?
No, she used to go to the markets. Sometimes when the elderly people used to know that she was making them, they’d always come to the caravan, for to buy them. They’d come and look at the material, and they’d ask what way it was being made. So whatever way they wanted it, it could be made. And when it was finished, then, they’d come and collect the stuff.
S: And what part of the country would you have been in at that time? When you were small, did you travel a lot, or did you stay in Tipperary?
Well, we used to travel all over. We’d leave Cashel Co. Tipperary, and we’d go to Tipperary town, which is no distance. But we used to travel slowly. Like, a car, you’d kind of go flying. You could be in the north, you know what I mean
S: In three hours’ time, you’re at the Giant’s Causeway!
Where at that time, we used to go slowly. We used to have a horse. Sometimes what they call a mule. And they yoked under the wagon. And they’d go slowly, like. They’d let the animal walk. They wouldn¹t rush it. They’d just take their time going along the road and they’d just move they’d probably pull in to spend the night here, maybe two nights, and then they¹d pack up after two nights and go someplace else. Because they used to love going around the country.
S: So did you stay in the County Tipperary?
S: So would you have kind of visited the same places year after year? Were you known in places?
Yes. I even went back recently, now, with my husband, to where we lived when my father was alive and we were young I was only about 16, 17. And for me today, for to go back honest to God, I just barely recognised it! I just barely recognised it.
S: The places? The roads? Or…?
Because everything is so changed down there. It’s very, very changed. It’s changed so much!
S: The roads in particular, have changed a lot.
S: Cashel’s a nice town, though, I like Cashel. What was I going to say? Oh the Hutchinson’s, and Ryans. The Hutchinsons are from Offaly doesn’t even border Tipperary! Does it? I don¹t think it does. So, the Hutchinsons weren’t… next door neighbours of yours at all.
S: How did you meet up with the Hutchinson’s?.
But, it’s funny enough. I was in England for about 8 year.
S: With your family?
No. My brother was over there, and his wife. My brother was over there before I went over, so I just went over. So when I went across, then, I stayed in England. My brother came back after a couple of year, but I stayed in it.
S: On your own?
Yeah. I had a flat. I worked in a place called Cadbury Hall, in London. And I worked there for quite a few year.
S: On your own? Were you not lonely?
No, because I used to do a lot of work, and it was mostly all night work, so I was sleeping during the day and I enjoyed the work that we were doing there, and I was there for about eight year. So then I got a telegram through the door one morning saying my mother was after… dying. And so I came home. So when I came home then, I just, I never got I did genuinely want to go back, I loved it that much, but I never went back. I stayed back. So when I was back here then, I was about 6 months home and I got very ill. And I had to be sent to Dublin hospital. I was in Dublin hospital for about 6 months. So when I was released from hospital, the ambulance brought me back down to Nenagh Co Tipperary, my brother had moved to Nenagh Co Tipperary, and I was only a couple of weeks out of hospital when I met my husband. That’ almost 31 years ago!
S: So we’e got let me just get this right who marries in. We’ve got Reillys, Purcells would those be the same Purcells that you’ find in Wexford? Would they be the same crowd?
S: No. Different Purcells again.
You see, there’ Wexford Purcells, and there’ Tipperary Purcells. So those two people is not related.
S: That’s why I ask, because, the same name does not mean the same people not at all! I found that out.
It’s just like: you get a person by the name of Green, in the settled community. And you’ll get a person by the name of Green, in the Traveller community. But yet they’re totally different, like, they’re not related in any way.
S You can get two country people called Green, not being related. Two Travellers called Green, not being related, as well!
I’d better go!
S: Oh, God! That’s right! I’m sorry!