John Corbett returns with another selection of memories from November

November was a precious month to us as children. There were few chores to be done so that left longer playtimes. Dark evenings meant that both we and our parents could catch up with our reading, which had been somewhat neglected in summer and in early autumn.

The mobile library, which Galway Co. Council introduced around this time, made accessing books much easier than it had been up to then. It was used extensively by locals when it parked at the junction of the Killuane-Kinreask Road.
For book borrowers it was an opportunity to catch up with all the latest news after they had obtained their reading material. We just collected our books and left quickly, ignoring the adult conversation which was of little interest to us.
I always associate the month with the big fires that brightened the houses of the village.

At this time of year, Mannions, next door, invariably had a large timber log, with one end stuck in the fire, and the rest of it extending up along the floor of the kitchen. Oddly enough, I don’t remember any smoke in the kitchen while it was burning.

When the seniors passed on, Bernie, their son, continued the tradition and would bring in four sacks of turf each winter’s evening. Nearly all of it was converted to ashes by the following morning.

Very often the first week of November brought frost and this was a treat as far as we were concerned, although of course it wasn’t popular with adults. It was particularly challenging for people that were travelling in horse-drawn vehicles such as traps or side-cars. Cyclists needed to be careful too, although the untarred roads that surrounded us at that time were not as dangerous as the tarred ones that came later.

It wasn’t unusual to find a large number of cyclists at night without lights. The risk of having an accident didn’t bother people but they did worry about being caught by a garda and receiving a fine and a day out in court. Unlit bicycles and unlicensed dogs accounted for the majority of cases at the District Court then.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own