'We loved the excitement of it all and when my father would be cutting the meat we would get lovely end slices'

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'We loved the excitement of it all and when my father would be cutting the meat we would get lovely end slices'


Margaret remembers the daily business of her mother's cafe or 'Eating House' as it was called.


Margaret McLoughlin


Trinity College Dublin




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Margaret McLoughlin

Is Part Of

Childhood and Early Life


Life Story

Spatial Coverage

Dromahair, Co. Sligo

Temporal Coverage


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My mother ran an Eating House which today would be called a cafe. People from all around the area had to come to the village to do their bit of business .They either cycled or had a donkey or cart or maybe a trap so when they had finished their business they would need sustenance which my mother supplied. One could purchase a plain tea which comprised homemade bread and jam and as much tea as you wished and cost one shilling and six pence in the old money. Fairs were held on the street about once a month. The jobbers would bring all their cattle for sale ( again walking many miles to do so) and they whole village would be transformed with the coming of all the different animals. From early morning there was a great buzz of excitement and we children watched from a safe distance behind our gate at all the comings and goings. For the village the day before, was a busy one as all the houses and premises had to put all sorts of barricades up to keep the animals out of the gardens and from destroying the houses. For us it was especially busy as we children had to go out to different farmer's houses to purchase gallons of milk . Even though we had quite a walk to these houses there was always a reward at the end of the journey. I remember Mrs Scott of Mullagh would always give us some apples and Mrs Mc Partland a bit of bread and jam. As the room that Daddy worked in was going to be the dining room he would get a day off work for that day. He didn't actually mean he didn't do any work as he cut up all the big roasts of meat and the shop bread as that was the only day that shop bread would be bought. We had a big long table which when my father was working would hold himself and Jim Dolan who worked with him and it would be covered with oil cloth for the day. The same had been bought at an Auction for one and six pence. Then there was the big roast to be cooked seventeen to twenty pounds of beef which was cooked in the big range. We loved the excitement of it all and when my father would be cutting the meat we would get lovely end slices. I can't remember all the loaves of bread and large 2lb.pots of jam that were bought . Everyone did their bit but my mother also had maybe one or two girls from the village to give a hand. There was no sleeping in on that morning as from very early we would be woken with the sound of cows sheep and pigs with all their accompanying sounds. The whole place would come alive with the farmers bargaining and buying and selling and clapping their hands which we couldn't figure out what it all meant. You would also see the first baladeer with his sheets of songs and him singing away. That was the part I liked best . He would then sell the sheets for a penny. At noon when they were feeling hungry or had their business done they would arrive at my mother's for their meal which was heated beef with a good dollop of gravy and large slices of bread. There would be seven or eight men all talking together about the day's doings. Really she was a wonderful worker and as she always said herself , if she had had the money she would have made a go of the Hotel. When my father rented the workshop she then had the room free to give teas during the week. Country people coming in do shopping or collect pensions would be glad of the break. All that money went a long way and she loved when it was a big fair. In the Summer she had the same and also on the Horse Show Day which was held on the 15th August. We had to work hard running for messages if she went short laying the table, serving, and keeping the washing up going. My father kept the range going as that was really important - no electric kettles or cookers in those days. When the last of the jobbers left the village we could sit and enjoy the left overs. If the beef was gone we would get rashers and sausages from Gilmores so we would be eaten with relish. The lovely dripping from the beef was kept and would last for a week and was used for fried bread and the lovely crusty heels were lovely fried in it.


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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