'My father was better working outside the house than inside. He just did things differently '

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Dublin Core


'My father was better working outside the house than inside. He just did things differently '


Frank remembers domestic life on the farm.


Frank Gaynor


Trinity College Dublin




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Frank Gaynor

Is Part Of

Childhood and Early Life


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Clondaliever, Westmeath

Temporal Coverage


Life Story Item Type Metadata


Our source of drinking water was a hand pump over a well in the middle of the field behind the house, which we called the pump field. The pump was about 400 yards from the house. The task of providing the house with a good supply of drinking water helped to keep us fit and healthy. Some years, towards the end of a dry spell, the water in the well would be too low for the pump to work. We then travelled over half a mile down through Byrne's long narrow farm and crossed into James Gaynor's field where we found a small spring with fresh water. The beauty of nature was all around us - the wild flowers, the birds, the rabbits, a fox now and then, the lambs and calves playing in the fields, the ewes and the cows just taking it easy, and the noise of the crows going home to roost. Years later, standing on the highest point in the pump field looking across the green fields towards Knockeyon and lake Derravaragh I began to appreciate what a privileged childhood I had roaming freely and without danger around Clondaliever. Our horse also enjoyed standing on that same high point in the pump field. As he stood there he always positioned his backside to face into the wind. As he altered position he acted as a kind of local met office. Our cousins living in Dublin had great sympathy for us poor souls stuck in the middle of nowhere. We did not see it that way, partly due to the fact that our parents made the effort to bring us to the limited number of organised events that were within reach. I recall travelling by horse and trap to the Delvin Gymkhana, the Crookedwood sports at lake Derravaragh, the swimming gala at Lough Owel and the opening of the GAA field in Collinstown. My mother was at her best on these occasions, displaying great social skills and confidence. I remember her as a picture of happiness, with a generous smile, a friendly greeting and some light - hearted comments for everyone she happened to meet. An orange or a three - penny ice - cream made my day. Every two years a car was hired to bring us on a Sunday to my mother's home place in Kilbeggan. Her parents were still alive, living in a small thatched house. While the men drank bottles of porter and the women chatted in the kitchen we explored the stream that ran close to the house and the well in a field near the entrance gate. At age 11 I had my tonsils removed in Mullingar hospital. When I woke after the operation I was frightened by the sight of blood all over my pillow. I was left with a very sore throat and had great difficulty eating for over a week. To help me recover from the shock of this experience my mother arranged for me to spend a week with her parents and her brother Joe in Kilbeggan. Joe was a workaholic. My mother told him that I was on holiday for the week and that he was not to work me too hard. It was my first time away from home. I was happy doing simple tasks like bringing lettuce and onions from the garden and water from the well. Joe stuck to his instructions and did not involve me in any heavy work. From 6am until about 10pm he was moving at a fast pace. He spent the early morning around the farmyard, milking cows and feeding calves and pigs. He then moved on to working in the fields. I was used to my father moving at a much slower pace. When it was time for me to return home granddad transported me with his donkey and cart to the bus stop on the Tullamore road. While granddad sucked on his pipe and talked to the donkey I sat proudly in the little cart, and wished that I had a donkey of my own in Clondaliever. I do not remember seeing granddad again. When he died I was in St Finian's College and was not allowed out to attend his funeral. A few times we were taken by car to Dublin and out to Dunlaoghaire where my parents had spent their honeymoon. On a few occasions my mother travelled by bus from Collinstown to Dunlaoghaire to spend a couple of weeks with her aunt who had retired there from her business in Mullingar at a relatively early age. I enjoyed those days when my mother was away in a strange kind of way. My father was better working outside the house than inside. He just did things differently. He tried hard and managed to remain calm and kind to us at all times. He never complained about my mother going away for a holiday even though he never took a holiday himself.


Irish Research Council for Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (IRCHSS)

Research Coordinator/P.I.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)

Senior Research Associate

Dr Deirdre O'Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)


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