The coachman, on the rear of the coach, would sound his horn at Kizzy Coe’s Gate, at the top of the hill, and she should jump into action so that the horses could gallop through without breaking their stride. On the night in question, granny had a bright idea; because of her tiredness, she stuck a sweeping-brush near the open gate and placed her dress and apron around it with her cap on top. In her troubled sleep, she thought she heard the coach go by. The next day the coach driver knocked on Granny’s door and rebuked her; ‘Mrs. Kelly’, he said, ‘that was a dastardly thing you did last night. If His Lordship woke he would have created Hell; if you do that again, I will report you.’ Looking back, I always thought that was a case of ‘a penny looking down on a halfpenny.’
Mr. Silcock was the book-keeper in the office in the courtyard. After some time, Her Ladyship and John Silcock started walking out together. Then one weekend the couple took a trip to
In the farm-yard, workers started at 8 a.m. to the sound of the bell; the bell tolled at 1 o’clock for their meagre lunch, and at 6 o’clock to end the day’s work. The first land steward I recall was Mr. Bell; he was followed by Mr. Fennel. Mossy Hickey and Bill Rowe were herdsmen while Mick Brett and Jimmy Keyes were the shepherds who looked after hundreds of sheep. Ellen Ashmore was the dairy-maid, who dispensed the milk and made lovely butter. I used to go to the dairy each day for a pint of milk; Ellen always measured out an exact pint and then added a tilley, which looked like a further half-pint.
The forge was just behind our house. The blacksmiths were, Gussy Howley and Bill Purcell. I can still see the large bellows which kept the coals white hot. I can hear the rhythmic beat of the hammer on the anvil, see the sparks flying ferociously towards the ceiling; I can smell the red hot shoes being cooled in a bucket of water, the stench of horses hooves, and the bang of nails being driven home. I can hear Gussy swear when the horse lost his balance on three legs. These images were stored in my mind when I was about eight years old.
These were the war years. The Irish army was allowed on the estate to carry out manoeuvres. Some of the soldiers came into our kitchen and stuck their hands up the chimney for soot to blacken their faces. They were dressed in coarse green uniforms and wore hob-nailed boots. We were given sweets by some soldiers to lessen our terror. They camped in a grove at the back of our house.
I am extremely grateful to Jack for allowing the use of this article.
It is hoped to have some more of Jack's writings later.