JOHN CORBETT with a selection of memories of life in the Irish countryside during the month of August


August came second to July in our list of favourite months as children. It contained the greater portion of our summer holidays from school and the amount of time we could spend in the open air was unlimited. Warm weather added to our enjoyment.

Those lucky enough to own bikes could travel around in style. The rest of us depended on our parents’ bikes. Bikes for juniors were scarce and none of my companions had one. But we made the most of what was available. It wasn’t unusual to see three people cruising along on one vehicle. Punctures and damaged wheel rims were regular occurrences and repair outfits were to be found in most houses.

However, the truth was that transport wasn’t needed for most of our games. We were quite content to play ball, run, or engage in wheel tipping contests, and other activities. Probably the riskiest of our games was lying in a barrel and rolling downhill. It was forbidden by our parents, but they were rarely in a position to enforce the ban.

Tree climbing was another favourite pastime. From mid-August onwards, raiding orchards was yet another of our illicit pleasures. I have no recollection of any of us being caught. Looking back, I’m inclined to think that the majority of those that had orchards didn’t mind losing some of their apples.

We felt that it was unlikely that they would have been able to use them all anyway. For that reason we could ignore our illegal intrusions and avoid the embarrassment of informing the priest about our misdeeds when we went to Confession.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own