By John Corbett

It was the thoughts of returning to the classroom that we liked least about September. The weather itself was usually mild and could be quite sunny. in spite of the fact that there are many songs that suggest that rain is widespread in the month.
At present there are festivals and races in September but back then there was only the Great Harvest Festival in Ballinasloe on the horizon and we’d have to wait until next month (four long weeks) for that.

Fires were lit in the country kitchens and oil lamps also began to be used for the first time in months. The lamps were only lit for late night visits and were considered unnecessary in the early part of the evening. Paraffin was used sparingly and this applied to most items that had to be purchased for cash.

Aladdin and Tilly lamps gave off a brighter light but few houses in our district had them. Single and double-wick burners were the main source of illumination for villagers at that time. Paraffin and wicks for the lamps could be got in the shops nearby.
Globes, which were fairly delicate, weren’t available locally, so special care was taken with them. Strong light could crack them and on a few occasions I saw Mam attach a hairpin to the globe to protect it. I don’t know whether or not this actually worked.
All the above mentioned forms of illumination were far less effective than the electric bulbs that were used from the mid-fifties onwards.

In the late forties and fifties, radio sets were owned by a minority of villagers. Two batteries were needed to operate them: a dry battery plus one that had to be charged every few weeks. The dry one was expensive and usually lasted about six months, depending on usage.

We brought our wet batteries to Mountbellew to be charged. Steel needles placed on positive and negative terminals gave an indication of the amount of current stored in them and a relatively strong “kick” from the needles could be expected from new or freshly charged batteries.

For the above reasons listening time was rationed by most users and it was rare to have the sets switched on during the day except for short periods and for programmes that were really popular.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own