It's Us They're Talking About: Liam Grant
Margaret Farren

2 of 4

"Your father'd min' the time the milk used to be, brought down from Tirhoran on a donkey and trap. Master Kavanagh would send us all out to the wall to see if the Tirhoran bus was coming yet."

The educational system must have been almost as frustrating for the teachers as it was unpleasant for the children with so many absent several times throughout the school year to go and work in their neighbours' fields.

"Back then everyone was the same, I was as poor as you and you were as poor as me, until times got up a bit. Coming up to springtime and every man setting potatoes, if you finished first you were sent to a neighbour man. No money, mind! All you'd get, you'd get your tae."

At this point Liam couldn't resist teasing me a bit about my own relatives. "There was no money around that time. Now if you were lucky enough to have, a good in-law that had a shop - the likes of Hughie Farren, maybe! [laughs] -sure you wouldn't have to pay him! You'd give a wee taste of money and you'd pay off the rest. That was the way you had to go along. There might be eggs and butter and that kind of stuff brought down. You' d pay with eggs and butter and what was left at the end of the year you'd try to raise someplace, by selling a stack of turf or something. A whole lot of them wouldn't eat eggs now, or butter ....too fattening! [laughs]

"Hughie Farren was a good man, and a great dancer. He had medals and everything. He loved dancing through the floor. Paddy Gobbon in Tanderagee would come up to Farren's house and that ceilidh music would be playing on Radio Eireann from 9.30 to 10 o'clock and Paddy never set down but danced 'round and 'round the floor 'til the music stopped.

Hughie more or less left the running of the shop to Fanny John Fanny. Fanny was always cautioning people not to be too extravagant! [laughs] If it was a customer she knew well she hated to see them wasting their money! Biscuits were robbery altogether!

Between the carefulness of Fanny in Farren's and the seeming lack of any hard currency, I'm left wondering why my grandfather ever bothered opening up shop at all.

Farren's Shop At The Cross

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