Clachans in days gone by were occupied by the kin or extended family of grandfather, father and sons. As families grew, the farms were sub-divided to accommodate sons and grandsons. The farms were not large enough to get money to support the family. This was one of the factors which led to the massive emigration which took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The seemingly random way in which small cottages are scattered over the landscape would lead someone to believe that they had been built all over the place without any plan or thought. That was not the case.
By Natasha (Glenarm P.S.)
Education in the early 20th Century was not like it is today. In an interview with a former resident of Straidkilly he tells us about school life in the past.
Mr. McGavock was a pupil at Harphall Boys Primary School which is situated on the Bay Road recalls that; he started school about the age of six and left when he was around twelve, he had to walk roughly a mile and a half to school, how his school was considered big as there were two classrooms and how he learnt the three 'R's', reading, writing and arithmetic.
The pupils wore no uniform and had to supply their own food, usually homemade soda bread. During break time they played games such as football, marbles and tig. Lunch lasted half and hour. He also states that there were no school trips. His favourite part of the day was home time.
(St. John's, Carnlough)
When Willie McGavock was young the people ate:porridge, home made bread, potatoes, very little meat and an occassional fry. The food he grew was potatoes, they made their own butter and kept hens for eggs.
In the book of Life in Victorian Ireland, John Connelly from Monaghan said that he ate "potatoes mostly and sometimes a sup of milk".
By Nicole and Ryan (St. John's, Carnlough)
A Day In My Life
Oh! No! There’s the rooster crowing, I’ll have to get up now. Since I am the oldest, I have to get my 3 brothers and 4 sisters up. My name is Lucy and I am 11 years old. I live in a clachan in Straidkilly. My brothers and sisters don’t want to get up but they soon jump out of bed when they hear mother calling.
My first chore is to get them all washed and dressed. I have to get the warm water from the black pot over the fire. They all complain when I try to scrub them clean. If it were mother doing it they wouldn’t say a word. When they are all washed and dressed I take them downstairs for breakfast. Mum is bent over with all the hard work but yet she doesn’t complain. She hands a boiled duck egg out each. I eat mine as quickly as possible to start my day’s work.
My father is at the door putting on his boots. He turns round, his face weather beaten and his hands hard from all the work on the land.
Our first chore is to get water from the well. Each child is given a bucket. I am the eldest so I have the biggest bucket to carry. We fill our buckets up to the brim. Then we have a competition to see who can get home first. My little brother was watching his bucket so hard that he didn’t look where he was going and tripped and fell and spilled all his water. We all fell about laughing and spilt our water as well, so we had to go back and start all over again. When the water was delivered the boys went to help father and the girls went to help mother.
Today is a special day, the fish man comes today on his donkey and cart with trays of fish. He is a happy man who tells jokes and brings news from the neighbouring clachans. If some of the families don’t have enough money they pay with eggs that he can sell in the next clachan.
Today mother says she’ll tell me how to gut the fish. My mother finds it hilarious when I start heaving. After that we got the vegetables into the large pan and the potatoes boiled in a pot.
After dinner we go out to play games. Later when we go in, father sits us down at the fire and plays the fiddle for us. We go to bed happy and dream about all the things we have done today.
By Natasha (Glenarm P.S.)