Food related extracts from interview with Patrick (Pake) Nicholson, Dangan, taken from Killererin - A Parish History
Interviewed by his wife Nena for Killerer Young at Heart in 1998
Killererin Heritage Society
The following article has been put together for our Gastronomy Galway 2018 project. Pake passed away on 30th April, 2011. Most of the interviewees for our Parish History book were from a farming background and the common themes throughout are diet, threshing, stations, killing the pig, going to fairs etc. I hope you enjoy reading these extracts and that you get a sense of what life was like for past generations in this locality.
I was born in 1928 and come from a family of eight. I lived all my life in Dangan. I had four brothers and three sisters. I remember when I was just a lad and how so many of the Christmas traditions have changed. There was no children’s allowance, dole or headage payment so everything had to be home- produced on the farm: potatoes, beet, oats and other vegetables. Pigs, turkeys, geese, ducks and hens were also reared on the farm. Most were sold before Christmas to pay for the groceries but three of the best geese were kept for the Christmas feast. One or two turkeys were always sent to relations in England. Yes, by post.
There were three local shops and a travelling shop, so all the grocery shopping was bought locally. There was lots of excitement waiting to see which child would go with their mother to get the shopping, which consisted of flour, tea, sugar, currants, raisins and other fruits for baking; jelly and custard, paraffin oil and candles, maybe even a few bottles of stout. The children always got biscuits and lemonade from the shopkeeper and the housewife got a Christmas box which was usually a cake, tea and a calendar and these were always much appreciated. A day was always set aside to go to Tuam and buy clothes, shoes and other Christmas items. ……………
Christmas Eve chores
Christmas Eve was confession day, and the three miles were walked from Dangan to Killererin Church, and back home again. The journey home did not feel that long. Just a few more jobs to get done out on the farm, before it got dark. The hay had to be pulled from a big cock, fistful by fistful, until there was enough for all the cattle, cows and horses and that was no easy job. Mangles had to be cleaned for the horses, and the old sow got her bucketful. All the animals had to get extra on Christmas night. Then it was inside to get washed and ready for supper………..
Celebrating after long walk home from church.
In the kitchen, there was the oil lamp and candles for the mantelpiece………. The table was always pulled into the centre of the kitchen for all the family to sit around as everyone had to be home for supper. All kinds of cake were on the table, treacle cake, currant cake, ginger cake, even the baker’s loaf was special, as those treats would not be seen for another year. Supper was finished with jelly and custard.
………..We had a very early start on Christmas morning. There were six masses in Killererin church, so all the family started the journey at 6a.m. to get to the church for 7 o’clock Mass. It was a long walk and at that time everyone receiving communion had to fast from midnight. The journey home always seemed longer and the hungry stomach overruled the heart. Needless to say, any sadness over that pet goose was soon forgotten. Christmas dinner was roast goose and stuffing, all cooked in the big open fire. The smell of the cooking is never to be forgotten.”