Letter

Letter From A “Plastic Puddy”

Carradoogan was and is something very special to me. Just to enable you to get your bearings and help your “minds eye” picture some of the places mentioned on your section of the Loftus home page.

Carradoogan lies in the foothills of the Ox Mountains which form part of the borderline between Sligo and Mayo.

Don’t imagine the Ox Mountains are like the Rockies, highest point is about 1250 feet with Carradoogan at about 250 feet.

The area around is very poor ground many stones and rocks. It’s a small village only 7 occupied houses when I knew Pat and Honiara of the second family of your great-grandfather.

The house closest to the mountain was the Walsh’s- that’s my family, 50 yards from these was Noone’s (maybe the same Noone as his first wife), 10 more yards to the Loftus house it still stands, I saw it three months ago! then 50 yards to the Mulownies, then 300 yards to three houses very close together belonging to the Durkan’s, the Igoe’s and the Barrett’s.

Pat left his house and his farm to one of the Walsh’s. The Walsh family recently purchased the Noone farm and house from Dominic Igoe who must be the great great grandson of Dominick Noone!

Not so long ago, in my time (I’m 53) nothing much grew on the land it was so poor, Potatoes, oats, hay, everybody kept one or two cows, a few chickens, two sheep dogs (cannot remember the names of Pat’s, but he had two. A bitch, Daisy, that had a foul temper and one of her sons with an even fouler temper, if that was possible!) and lots of sheep that ran wild on the Ox mountains and were only brought down two or three times a year to be dipped and sheared.

Carradoogan is about 6 miles Northwest of Ballina (that’s on every map of Ireland).

Attymass (1.75 miles West of Carradoogan) is the nearest village with a Church, so all married in Attymass, Attymass is Big-all of 20 to 30 houses with a Post Office (its closed now) and a Hotel (and it isn’t the Hilton!) It sits on the edge of a lake called Ballymore

Kilgarvan, the cemetery is about 2.5 miles North of Carradoogan, a very peaceful place, on the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere, until recently, (its closed now) it contained the remains of the people of Carradoogan, why they were buried there I don’t know because there was a perfectly good graveyard in Attymass! My Grandfather and Grandmother are buried there I went with my father to see the grave about three months ago (the Irish are great for visiting graves!)

I had not heard of a place named Cartron in Mayo until I looked at an old map tonight and about 1.5 miles Northwest of Carradoogan is a lake called Cartron Lake, must be the same place!

Now you know all about Carradoogan and its surrounds,

The Loftus House was, in my youth, a typical Irish Cottage, the ones you see on the Post Cards, whitewashed and a thatched Roof and I can see Pat now re-thatching a part of it perched on the end of an old wooden ladder.

Outside was the road, if you can call it a road, to the side was a small barn which was separated from the house by a small garden which ran around the rear of the house. Across the road was where Pat kept his cart (he always had a Donkey)

The door was at the end of the house and lead straight into a room that would be about 10 by 15 foot, at the top of the room was another door that lead off to a small bedroom.

In the large Room was the usual open Turf fire on which everything was cooked , and to the right a bed in an alcove, with a curtain drawn over it.

I always though that Pat and Honrita were man and wife until once, I must have been about ten, I heard them raising voices to each other and on passing this “scandal” on to my Grandmother she started to laugh and explained to me that they were brother and sister! Honrita was know as Annie, or I assumed it was Annie, but on reflection it was always pronounced “awn ee”

Both Pat and Honrita were diminutive, Pat would have been about 5’2, Honrita about 5′ but for all his lack of height Pat must have had some spirit as at about the age of 25 he joined the army as a volunteer to fight during the “Troubles”, he rose to Sergeant and received an army pension from the Irish Government.

Pat was always smart, he always, I think, wore a tie and outside the house a flat cap and always but always carried a stick (except when going to mass)

He talked to himself a lot and, if I remember, when I overheard him, his conversations were well peppered with swearwords! Maybe,as he had rows with Honoria all the time and that this was his way of getting rid of the frustration, I find myself doing the same thing when my wife and I have “words”.

Honorita always wore what the Irish call a “pinny”, how can I describe it, like housecoat made of cotton that wrapped around one and was secured at the back with two pieces of the material formed into a belt and tied in a bow.

Honorita was always, as the English say, “spick and span” , she kept her face powder in a large jar on the dresser and would apply this liberally to her face with a large “puff” at frequent intervals, it just looked like flour. When I pointed out to my grandmother that Annie put flour on her face from a jar on the dresser, another long laughing session took place until it was explained to me that it was face powder, not flour!

I’ll talk to my Father and see if he can add any more stories, he spent much time with Pat as it was the way, years ago, that all the men from the Village went to England every year, as a gang, for about two months, to work in the East of England during Harvest and Potatoes Picking time, the money they earned, then which would have been a fortune in Irish terms, kept the family for the rest of the year.

My father migrated to England and married my Mother, who was from another part of Mayo, in 1940 and settled in an Industrial Town called Bolton which is about 30 miles from Liverpool.

There were few trees in Bolton then, no wide open spaces, it must have been difficult for my Father to come to terms with the place.

I came along in 1943 and when I was about 6 months I was shipped over to Carradoogan to escape the bombs of Mr. Hitler and stayed there with my Grandmother until 1946.

In England we have a very long School holiday from Mid July till the end of September and for these 6 weeks, from the age of 10, I would travel over to Carradoogan, by myself (I knew the way by then!) and would spend my time running wild around the mountains, shearing sheep, milking cows, feeding pigs-God how I loved the place! How different to my own Hometown!

My heart still flutters when I see the place, but then again weren’t the Irish, (even the plastic ones), a romantic race!