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This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.”

1. If you transplant cabbage plants when the moon is full the plants will not form into heads but will grow wild into seed.

2. If you sow turnip seed when the moon is full the roots will not develop but will grow wild into seed.

3. If you kill a pig do not put meat in salt if the moon is full, or the meat will go bad.

4. If you have a garden of onions and if any evilly disposed person enters that garden while the onions are growing and steals thereof, the remainder of the onions will “go against you” and till you change the seed you’ll have no luck with the onions any more. Potato onions are the kind in question here. This belief seems to obtain all over Ireland, at least among the Celts.

Mr Galvin went on to describe: “Not believing this myself I sought to test this belief. One evening in the month of June, some years ago, I entered the garden of beautiful onions belonging to a neighbour and pulled up a few and brought them away. I watched the progress of that crop afterwards. A finer crop or one more easily saved my good neighbours had not for years.”

“Afterwards I told a man whose faith in the belief was unshakeable. But he explained that that I didn’t steal the onions or had no evil intention in entering into the field. He then gave me several instances in support of his own conviction and wound me up by telling me “There was no doubt about it." "

5. On occasion dogs attack flocks of sheep and kill some. That’s bad enough but if a dog kills any of your lambs, you’ll have no luck with lambs for many years to come. The same does not apply if a fox instead of a dog kills them because “’Tis the fox’s nature.”

6. If you go into a neighbours house and find that the neighbour is “making the churn” take a greas (dreas) at the churn, or at least put your hand on the churn dash (or the churn handle if it be that kind of churn). If you don’t do this “You bring your neighbours butter” and your neighbour won’t like that.

7. Many people won’t let you take a coal of fire out of their houses.

8. On leaving your neighbours house leave by the door you came in.

9. It isn’t right to bring a spade or shovel or other implement into a dwelling house on your shoulders.  ‘Tis no harm to bring to bring in a bag of turf or ciseán of potatoes or the likes in this way. – I suspect that this “regulation” was intended at the beginning to guard against the carelessness of children or their awkwardness – or on the principle of “Safety First” to ensure that one thoughtless person following too closely on another may not run his face against the instrument and “disfigure himself for life”- a common and emphatic expression among the country people. Just as ‘tis not right to go between clothes drying in front of the fire and the fire- even to pass that way.   

10. “It is not right” is a very common expression among the people : it has a much deeper meaning than appears on the surface. It does not mean that it ”is not right” in the same sense as breaking the Ten Commandments would not be right. That would be trivial in comparison; for God might be induced to forgive this some time for a consideration.

But the other can never be forgiven. Soon or late, but generally soon, vengeance will come. There is neither staying the hand nor appeasing the outraged spirits presiding over these matters. But indeed is it seldom is it necessary for them “to vent their ire.” Their Rules and regulations ARE obeyed.


Old beliefs from the Clogher area

Some Old Cures

This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.”

1. Measuring the head.

This was an old cure for headaches. Only certain have the power or charm. The head is “measured” both ways. This means that a stitch of thread, silk preferably, is wound around the head (a) Under the chin and around the top of the head and (b) around the forehead, the difference between the two lengths tells if the bones of the head are “opened out”. The operator says several long prayers in Irish.

2. The Weavers Sprain Thread.

Thomas McHale, Belcarra, died in 1937 aged 86 years. He was a weaver. He always has a quantity of Sprain thread ready in the house. If a person got a sprained ankle or anything, that person would go to Thomas and say “Thomas I got a hurt” but never ask him for the thread. Or someone else would go instead of him: but in no circumstances must be thread be asked for.

Thomas would understand and give him a piece of the sprain thread. That piece of thread would be tied around the hurt limb and the limb would get alright.

It was only a piece of the wool thread that the weaver used in the loom. Pieces of the sprain thread have often been sent to England to cure boys from the Belcarra area that suffered from sprains in England where they went to work.

3. The Cleithín

The curer of the Cleithín enjoys quite a reputation. O Hora of Ballyvarry is almost famous. The Cleithín is also called the spool of the breast. A bone or something in the breast, they say falls down out of it’s and must be lifted up into its place.

4. The “Evil” Plaster.

Thomas Naughton was a shoemaker in Belcarra (Aged 79 in 1938 & then resident County Home, Castlebar). Tommie was able to make a plaster that would cure the “Evil”, which is some thing like a running sore.

He instanced to me the case of a neighbour who had the “Evil” in his face. The doctors could not cure it. He got Tommie’s plaster and it cured him in a short time.


The ways of the people long ago

Life in Clogher, Claremorris around the time of the  Famine.

Long ago the people dressed different to now. The women wore long clothes almost touching the ground. They did not wear any coats in those days only shawls. The shawls were made of wool. Very few used to wear shoes in those days either.

Any person who could afford to get a new pair of shoes should go to a shoemaker and leave their measurements to him and he would make the shoes for them. The shoes were very strong ones with heavy tips and nails.

The old women used to wear white linen caps with a lace border which they made themselves. For making up the border, they had what was called a “talon” iron. They used to put that iron in the fire and leave it there until it came to a certain heat. Then they took it up and used it. It was a small round piece of iron about eight inches long with a round knob at one end of it.

Some of the women used to wear hoops sewn in their petticoats. They used to put a big tuck in their petticoats and put the hoop into that tuck and sew it at both ends. Some used to get long briars and cut the thorns off them for that purpose.

The people lived mainly on potatos, milk and eggs. They made oatmeal cakes. It was wet with water. They used to mix it on a breadboard and leave it unbaked for some time until it would harden. They used a kind of frame which was left in a standing position in front of the fire until the oatmeal cakes got brown and then they would be baked.

The houses were very small. Cattle, pigs and fowl used to be kept inside in the house by night with the people because they had no out houses for them.

There were no ploughs or harrows in these days either. A rich person who had a lot of land may have them. They did all their farm work with a spade and shovel. Hay had to be cut by scythe because there were no mowing machines then. The oats was cut with a hook.

In these days the poor men had to work for the Landlord for whatever wages he liked to give them, generally four pence a day: even for mowing. If they refused their houses would be knocked by the Bailiff.

That time the poor people had very little delph, if any; they had a wooden vessel which held about a quart, with a handle on one side. It was called a “noggin.” The women used to bring the water from the well in a vessel which was called a “pail.” They used to carry it on top of their heads. They had a pad made of cloth to put on their heads to prevent the pail from hurting them. The pail was made of wood and it was shaped like a little tub. It was bound with three wooden hoops. There was a handle on one side of it and it was called a “cluaisín.” They would hold that with one hand to keep it steady on their heads.

Their plates were made of tin, polished very bright and hung on the wall when not in use. Their light was bog deal splinters, thinly made and well dried in the hob. These lit and took around the house when they wanted to get anything. But many had rush candles. They peeled the skin off the rush and steeped the soft inside pulp in melted tallow. For a lantern they often used a burning coal stuck on top of a stick.

This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.”


Traditions around the holy well

There is in Killeen townland, in Drum Parish, a well called Tobermacduagh. The name is ascribed to Colman-Mac-Duac, who lived at the beginning of the 7th century.Another sister well is located in Kinvara, County Galway and is closely associated with Colman, who gave the name Kilmacduach to the diocese. He was closely related to Guaire, King of Connaught. attr. - 'Ancient Landmarks' - History of Mayo- J F Quinn

Stations of the Cross were performed annually on Good Friday. Pilgrims came and erected tents in this area. Over 100 years ago this tradition ceased and the well fell into disrepair.In this area was the site of an old Church and burial ground for the unbaptised babies. It was said that little coffins were brought in the night and the only sign that a burial had taken place was a newly made grave. This practice stopped around 1900 and cattle were let graze in the area but it was never tilled.
 From: The Schools Folklore Collection 1939


This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.”

In many of the townlands (they call townlands “villages” in Mayo) some of the older men and women are fine step dancers. This is especially true of Newtown, Clogher. They tell of a dancing master called Thomas Killeen who taught jigs and reels and hornpipes in their young days, every village providing accommodation in its biggest barn.  Killeen was also (perhaps I should say ”naturally”) a fiddler and he taught and fiddled at the same time. His fee was 4d per week per student with board and lodgings thrown in. In those days it took a class six months to make any progress – the tempo (of the music) being the chief stumbling block, and some men never succeeded in becoming even middling dancers . At the present time a child of 6 or 7 years can learn to dance a reel in perfect time in three or four evenings; and similarly for the jigs- step and double- the hornpipe being slightly more difficult.

But the greatest master of step dancing that used to visit and teach here was Mr. Tuohy of Kiltimagh. His fame was widespread .any man or woman taught by Mr. Tuohy had the “right steps”. Killeen’s steps were in no such estimation, and the progress of his scholars was somewhat slower. Even today Killeen’s steps can be distinguished from Tuohys and some of the dancers who have picked up both will often when dancing shout “this is Killeen’s” or “this is Touhys” step.

Mr Tuohy’s sons followed the calling of Dancing Masters and only two years ago one of the sons held a class in the village of Belcarra. His charge was 2/- per pupil per week. The children and young men and women attended in crowds drawn by the fame of his father.  The older dancers came to be reminded of their own young days, as lookers on. But those latter were disappointed: “He isn’t his father’s son as far as dancing goes.” One of them said to me:  “He dances well sure enough but boy! Did you ever see his father; he was the boy that could “bate” the foot on it.” Neither was the son a fiddler, and in the eyes of the old men that was a very great drawback: and I think they are right in this.

However the son succeeded in making step dancers of scores of young of the district and step dancing became very popular among them. Then came the Dance Hall  licensing laws; and the people of the villages became afraid of the law to have dances in their own houses as they used to have at different times for more generations than they have skills to count. A returned American saw an opportunity of making money. He erected a dance hall and obtained a licence. The young men and women flock to the hall. In that hall with it’s waxed floor and it’s hired band there is no step dancing or Irish dancing of any kind. And so the enthusiasm for Irish step dancing that was among us such a short time ago is dead or dying and it will be difficult to revive it except among the children, who are sure in a few years to follow the example of their elders, and as Irish traditional dancing, as well as Irish traditional playing is passing away.


Another famous person that resided in Clogher was the former minister for Lands Mr. Joseph Blowick. He resided at Fortlawn House.

Joseph Blowick (13 March 1903 – 12 August 1970) was an Irish politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1943 as a Clann na Talmhan Teachta Dála (TD) for Mayo South. He succeeded Michael Donnellan as leader of the party in 1944. 

Blowick was appointed to the Cabinet in the two Inter-Party governments, serving under John A. Costello as Minister for Lands on both occasions. Blowick was elected to Dáil Éireann at every election until 1965 when he retired from politics.


Joseph Blowick of Fortlawn House

The Dancing school

Origins of “Newtown”

Bygone Trades  in Clogher

This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin, for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.”

The tailoring business has declined in country districts for the last 20 years. The merchant tailors in the towns do nearly all the work now. A tailor at present would not think of going from house to house working like they did in olden times.
However in the year 1937 in this district there are 3 tailors left yet:

Pat Mullaney - Belcarra.
Paddy Malone - Ballyglass.
Tailor Gibbons - Ballintubber.

Pat Mullaney is 80 years. He does very little now: but some old customers – old men- give him an odd job yet. About 20 years ago he used to employ 3 or 4 journeymen.
Pat Malone is a sort of merchant tailor providing the material as well a making the suits.

In the autumn of 1937 died Thomas Mc Hale, Belcarra, Castlebar aged 86 years. He was the last weaver in this or any other district for miles around. He wove blankets and stout frieze and many of his blankets give heat (and wear) in most houses in the district yet. Eighteen pounds of spun wool went to make a blanket so Thomas’s blankets were heavy.
You may yet see many overcoats made of his frieze. It seems impossible to wear them out. His handloom is in perfect condition, but no one remains to work it now.

In most houses in this district there is a Spinning Wheel and cards for carding wool and until quite recently you could see balls of home spun thread often as big as footballs hanging on the kitchen walls; some “single thread” and some “double”  waiting for the knitting needles.
It is not many years ago since every child - boy and girl - in this school was clad in stockings and jerseys made from the wool that grew on his father’s sheep that was carded and spun by his mother and knit into garments by his sisters. It took a great deal of example and “preaching” to accomplish this, but it was effective.
Of late there has been – I am sorry to say – a great falling off in this direction- and few of he children are so dressed now. Even most of the socks are bought in the shops.

John Byrne is a shoemaker in our district. He lives Carnacon in a small galvanised roofed house. He is a small man with a hump. He can make and mend shoes and boots. He is the first man in his family to become a shoemaker and probably would not if he was a strong man.
There are two shoemakers in Belcarra, Tom Naughton and Pat Mc Entyre. It has been a tradition in Tom Naughton’s family but Pat Mc Entyre is the first of his family. Probably because he was lame and he could not do any other job.
Neither of them make new shoes, they only repair old ones. New boots and shoes are now bought in the shops now. Tom Naughton does very little work now. He is eighty years old. He lives alone in a one roomed little house in Belcarra, on the old age pension. When he was younger he considered himself a fine singer and fiddle player.  He does not know a word of Irish.
John Byrne came from near Tourmakeady and is a native speaker of Irish. His people got a holding of land from the Congested Districts Board and that is how he is here.


Clogher heritage cottage and blacksmith's forge are in the townland of Newtown.
The townland of Newtown was settled and named in the mid nineteenth century when Major Crane Lynch ruled Clogher House Estate. He evicted many tenants from his lands in a mass eviction.
These tenants came together as a community and built several small houses in this area which eventually became known as the townland of Newtown. Newtown is a good example of the type of settlement known in Gaelic as “Clochán” or cluster settlement.


The Cóiste Bodhar Wake

A Dog’s Ghost

The “Cóiste Bodhar” route was from the milestone at Thomastown through the villages of Cnocbuidhe, Poll a Line, Lis Blowick by the old road to Donamona.

The following story was collected from Mrs Evelynn Gillivan, a teacher in Clogher School:

“When I came to Clogher I took lodgings in the village of Knockboy with Mrs. Durcan. Coming from the town and hardly knowing anyone in the place I thought it rather lonely at first, and to make the time pleasanter for me Mrs Brennan of Clogher often invited me to spend the evening with them, for which I was very grateful. I never stayed out late: and Mrs.Brennan herself as the saying goes locally would “leave me at home.” The distance anyhow was short only some twenty minutes walk.

This night that I am going to tell you about was one of the loveliest nights that come in September. The moon was full and a gentle peace and serenity were over the whole countryside. So beautiful was the night that wishing to linger on the way the more to feel its sweetness. This night I prevailed upon my escort when about half way to return home.

I came on easily past the school where I had spent the day “myself against a host”, and how gentle it seemed in the soft moonlight. At the little bridge I paused a while to see the waters under it “glide like happiness away”. It must have been later that I imagined for no light gleamed in the Public House at the crossroads and not a mouse stirred. I kept on leisurely until I came to the Carnacon crossroads at the little plantation. My way was to the left.

When I came to the bridge that crosses the stream here again I was startled by the sound of approaching footsteps- Trip-trap! Trip-trap! Trip-trap- many footsteps together and next moment- Sancta Maria! What is this? Five women I counted them are approaching me as plainly as the light of the moon. There was no fancy and no deception. The five were of different sizes- the one in the centre was the tallest- was very tall. They were dressed alike but the colours were different. They wore binoges, check aprons and shawls, very clean- a style of dress not worn in this part of the country for forty years past.

My heart beat a bit quicker surely and I kept well in on the grass. They passed by; they spoke no word and I spoke no word. Their faces were as pale as the moonlight and save for the tip tap of their feet they were as silent as the dead. They looked neither to the right nor to the left. I went my way scared enough, I did not turn my head to gaze after them. Why?, I really don’t know!

When I came into the house I told of what I had seen. My host and hostess were surprised , but ventured the explanation that it may be a party going to a wake or some such gathering in the neighbourhood- though they could not fit in my description of apparel with anything they knew.

But inquiries the next day showed that there was no wake or any gathering for miles around. Further I cannot explain.

Attr: This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.


Mr.Moroney, a Protestant, lives within a quarter of a mile from Clogher School. The following is a “ghost” story he told:

He one time had a dog – a beautiful black spaniel. To the spaniel he was very much attached and apparently the dog was very attached to him. Now one day it happened that Mr.Moroney had business to attend to in Castlebar and the bicycle is always Mr.Moroneys transport .He set out early in the morning and having done his business he returned home about mid-day and a fine clear day it was. On returning near his own house he saw the dog rushing down the avenue to meet him in his usual high spirits.

“He is a faithful little beast” said Mr.Moroney to himself –“I must be very kind to him! ” When about half way however, the dog turned into the bushes by the way. Mr.Moroney called him, but he did not come. “Rabbit.” thought Mr.Moroney.

When Mr.Moroney had put his bicycle aside and things, he said to his wife “I saw the little dog running down to meet me, but he turned into the bushes, I called him and he didn’t come. So I must go to see what is keeping him.”

His wife laid down her knitting, and placing a hand on either shoulder of her husband said, looking up into his eyes her own being very moist- “Exam, you must be brave” and then after a  pause –( a dramatic one I’m sure) – “The Dog is dead”. Mr.Moroney was about to try a joke but the anguish in his wife’s eyes withheld him. “Let us go for a walk out” sais he softly.

“Let us go to the stable “said his wife.

When they entered the stable Mr. Moroney saw his dog lying cold-stone dead. He had died shortly after his wife had left for Castlebar in the morning. Poison!

Attr: This information was collected and hand written by local schoolteacher Mr. Galvin for “The Schools Folklore Collection 1938.


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