To be an orphan at 15.

Nora Williams, late of Clogherboy

Losing our parents

In 1942-1943, I and five of my siblings were orphaned, living in a thatched cottage in a quiet corner of the parish. At that time, it was very sad for us all but we soon adjusted to being left alone without parents. No one looked in on us and no hand out came through the post. Of course, there were orphanages then but Thank God, we learned quickly how to just live. We just had to get by.  My youngest sister Nellie was just nine years but she being a brilliant student won a scholarship to Secondary school and then another to Carysford Training College where she qualified as a National Teacher.  Yes indeed, that was a great honour for Barnaderg School under the great care and teaching of the deceased Willie Hanrahan. He was a brilliant teacher himself and it was a great honour for him to have one of his students qualify as a teacher.

We hadn’t much money

We never had much money in those days. There weren’t any jobs about so we just worked on the farm. I spent most of my time outdoors helping my older brother, doing all sorts of farm work;  making hay, tying oats, pulling beet, weeding, picking fields of potatoes, tilling and harrowing the fields for sowing the crops. My older sister, now deceased, did the cooking and housework, baking etc. I also did all the washing with a washboard and tub. I had to heat the water in a big pot- no soap powders, only a bar of washing soap and some washing soda. No electricity or press button machines then. We cleaned the globe of the oil lamp each evening so we would have a nice bright light for knitting and sewing at night.

We made all our own clothes

We all became good knitters and we made our own dresses by cutting designs out of brown paper. We were always well dressed. We washed in a big bath in a corner of the kitchen, curtained off as a bathroom. We had lots of hens and eggs brought us in some money and if there was some money left over after buying the groceries, then we could buy some lovely material for sewing at one shilling and six pence a yard, a spool of thread for four pence, and buttons for a shilling a dozen.

Happy family

When I think back, we were all a happy family singing and dancing to our own music and visiting the neighbouring families. Even so, I missed my mother all my life especially when the children were born. Nowadays, an orphaned family get social welfare and help of various things but we had to work hard for what we had.


Thank God for all the modern appliances and we are grateful to God that all our family have got on well in life.


This page was added on 27/09/2018.

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