By Maria Kelly
When I was a child in Kilmihil in Co. Clare in the seventies the harvest took ever so slightly longer than it does today! Before my father purchased his first tractor, all work was carried out by horse and man (and woman of course).
The meadow was cut with a horse-drawn finger bar mower and when the going got tough one of us would be called upon to “take out the back raheen”.
This meant forking the newly cut hay out the way of the mower so it could keep doing its job – a risky undertaking if you weren’t paying attention to your surroundings.
Hay was turned with forks to dry it, and depending on the size of the meadow and the help available this could be a long process.
After a few days when the hay was deemed to be “fit” my father would then swirl it in with a “turner” and then gather it with a “raker”.
This was a vicious-looking machine with huge teeth that I did not like at all.
I can still picture my father sitting high up on his seat with his shirt sleeves rolled up coaxing and talking to the horse as they worked away together.
When the hay was finally ready to “tram” it was all hands on deck. My mother was most particular when it came to tram-making; they had to be straight and neat (especially in the meadows by the roadside). She walked the walk though, and was a great worker herself.