(Continuing the collection of nathanna Gaeilge used in the area up to recent times. See 2011 Magazine for part 1.)
Cómhairing (working in a meitheal), e.g. We were cómhairing the bog work.
Lobby (<leaba=bed), eg We had a lobby behind the house.
Caiseach ( < cos, road of wicker through bog), eg We walked on the caiseach.
Dúirnín (handle), eg Hold on to the dúrneen of the scythe.
Cláirín (scythe board), eg Edge the scythe with the cláirín.
Péist (monster), eg He hit him a péist of a fist.
Méiscre (broken skin), eg She has a méiscre on her fingers.
Míníoch (mean), eg She is very míníoch when she’s out.
Iarlais (changeling left by the fairies), eg He’s only an iarlais.
Lastar (woman of low degree), eg She’s a right lastar.
Gabhal (genital area), eg She covered her gabhal!
Loch Éireann (Lake Erne), eg He’d drink Loch Éireann dry.
Woster (bastaire=big portion), eg I ate a big woster of bread.
Trálach (sore wrist), eg He had a trálach after the slasher.
Buaileam sciath ( a boaster), eg He’s a right buaileam sciath.
Lúbán (a crooked thing), eg She made a lúbán of the bike when she crashed.
Ladhar (pron. lyre, a fistful), eg He gave a ladhar of oats to the horse.
(We acknowledge the assistance of Seán Ó Catháin, Nodie Walsh, and the many people who contacted us with phrases. Please keep them coming for part 3 in 2013)
Back in the 60s and 70s cutting the turf was something that went on for three weeks as it was mostly done by cómharing, this meant people helping each other with the task.First of all the bank was cleared, which meant removing the top layer of up to six inches down. For a household it took three to four days cutting with a sleán to secure enough turf for the winter. On high banks in Kilgarvan, six or seven sods in height, four men were needed to spread it far out on the bank – the sleánsman, the man piking after the sleán, the man branching and the man spreading. Depending on the weather, it could take three weeks as bad weather halted the progress.
A day in the bog also secured a good appetite, the tea and food seemed to take on a unique flavour. Conversation was plentiful, but should there be too much conversation the sleánsman could put an end to that by cutting quicker thereby not allowing any time for conversing. Good sleánsmen who come to mind that I have known in Kilgarvan bog are: Johnny Kennelly, Farnastack; Ned Lynch (RIP), Kilomeroe; Micheál Kissane (RIP), Kilgarvan; Joe Foley, Lyre; brothers, Jack and William Walsh (RIP), Guhard; Tom O’Connor (RIP), better known as “Big Tom”, Guhard South; Paddy J. O’Connor (RIP), Guhard South and Mick Walsh, Guhard South and not least of all, myself!
The important thing in high bog was to keep a nice slope to the bank and to have a nice sleán. There could be a bit of fun in the bog also. One evening, Denis “The Black” Dowling (RIP) and Jack Walsh came to the bog. Denis shouted over to me, “ is there any chance you would dance a couple of Jerry Molyneaux’s steps up on the high bog”. I said I would if he was able to lilt it. He did it in style and I danced a couple of steps of a hornpipe wearing a pair of wellingtons and we had an audience within minutes.
Nowadays with the turf-cutting machine and Hymac, what was a week’s work with a sleán is reduced to a couple of hours.
In my time a day in the bog meant long hours of work. Now the highlight of the Seán McCarthy Weekend and The Dan Paddy Andy Festival is the walk and then the tea in the bog.
How times have changed!
The Central Ballroom, Ballybunion
In 1954/55 Matt O’Sullivan returned from England to Ballybunion and he bought the Central Hotel. He had a vision and that vision was a ballroom, so he proceeded to build a ballroom where the Golf Hotel now stands. Before this was built dancing took place at the Pavillion/Ballerina occupied now by an amusement centre.
The Central Ballroom in Ballybunion was opened on the 29th of June 1956. The opening of this establishment was the main topic of conversation by the people of North Kerry and West Limerick. I believe that there was a little bit of opposition from an English band, namely Pete Roxburgh’s, but the opening went ahead and the ballroom was opened on the said date by Pete Roxburgh and guest, singing celebrity Joseph Locke. The scenes on the night were covered by the Kerryman and it estimated that 10,000 people turned up on the night.
Pete Roxburgh played for some time during that summer but the band broke up. This proved to be a godsend for the Maurice Mulcahy band from Michelstown and they made their first appearance in the Central on Saturday night the 8th September. The band then got a three-month stint in the following years starting in June and finishing the week of the Listowel races. This continued until the mid-1970s. Maurice Mulachy and his band stayed in Ballybunion for the duration of the summer. Their families also stayed. Their signature tunes were “From a Jack to a King” “Falling in love” and “Magic Moments”.
The cost of a season ticket was three pounds and ten shillings. These tickets did not cover you on a benefit night when you had to pay. Dancing was for three nights a week in the month of June and seven nights during July and August. In July, a bus-load of women would arrive to Ballybunion and the local men would dance the summer away with them.
In 1968 Matt O’Sullivan’s son, Kenneth, acquired the Central and he built a new ballroom at the back of the existing one and had the hotel demolished. This new ballroom was opened in 1968. The late Bill Fitzgerald was working at the ticket office and he estimated that approximately 3,000 patrons passed through the door some nights. There was no alcohol served in the Central, just a mineral-bar. The most popular mineral sold was “Pep Apple Juice”. This was made in Brosna. The takings from the mineral-bar paid for the running expenses of the hall. The order of romance was a few dances, an offer of a mineral and sometimes a coffee and a Club Milk at Danna’s, then on to the Castle Green for that moonlight walk and a glimpse of heaven, if one was lucky enough!
The door manager was for a time was Victor Rattory, while The Ball Connor, Jack Savage, and John Rohan also worked there. Jet Costello was the floor maintenance man. His duty was to keep the floors polished.
The Central Ballroom has become part of Ballybunion folklore. Even as the people who danced there grow older, the photographs and accounts like these will keep the folklore alive for future generations.