I think of the late Tom Moloney, up on the corner of the New Line who produced potatoes, lettuce and various varieties of vegetables which many visitors were delighted to buy from him. It was he who initiated me into the setting of potatoes and for a good many years, I grew them, as well as lettuce, onions, carrots, peas, strawberries and raspberries.
Behind Melrose, potatoes and vegetables were grown as well as tomatoes and cucumbers in the glass-house. My father kept pigs in the outhouse behind Johnie Mulcahy's i.e near the Boathouse. These were fed mainly on the waste from Melrose. (One wonders what happens to all the edible waste from hotels and restaurants). The late Frank Nugent also had pigs and his aunt, Mrs Kelly had fowl over beyond the former tennis courts at Cliff House Hotel.
The late Mrs Crowley at what was the Post Office kept hens as did Johnie Fitzgerald in the middle of the village. I remember Nanny Rooney who used live in Brisen calling "Tioc, Tioc" to her hens behind the house; Mrs Norry Brien further up the road kept fowl too.
Some people in the earlier part of the century tended to set some corn, slashing the sheaves later across a half-tierce barrel and bringing the grain to the creamery to be ground. There had been a corn mill at Pilltown, another in Glenlicky; my fathers family owned a mill and he often worked in it as a youth (that was at Killishal to the west of Dungarvan).
People beside the sea had barrels of salted fish put aside for the winter. The Curragh man who hadn't done so was regarded as a lazy fellow.
Quite a few people produced butter at home. Jimmy Rooney tells of his mother churning 2/3 pounds of butter in a dandy, a small earthenware barrel with a wood lid. I often saw my aunt, Mrs Quain, churning; Flynns of Dysert also produced butter and probably several other people also. Food just wasn't readily available in shops. In the late 30's I remember being sent out regularly to Keevers of Ballinamona for cream and of course, there was no such thing as milk in bottles or cartons.
Up to fairly recent times anybody having a back garden just didn't think of not tilling it and producing vegetables of some sort. My father had bought the ruins of the old Barracks now the Whitehorses Restaurant and besides the ordinary vegetables in the garden behind, I remember vegetable marrows and huge pumpkins.
Mrs Crowley had two gardens across the road from the old post office, where Perks are now and these she and Jerry her son diligently tilled. One of the plots was rented by Lady Clodagh Anson when she was in Mrs Crowleys house at the top of the village, in the forties and her daughter Miss Clodagh could be seen regularly tilling it.
Johnny Mansfield, Patsy Walsh and Henry Reilly did likewise. John Cashman was a great gardener too. In the 40's we remember Captain Jameson always up and down to the strand for seaweed for his gardens above Rock House. Tilling the gardens was very very important. Now we just pop down to the shop for most of our food.
Every household in the village got a plot in Dysert at the end of the 19th century, when the Odell Estate was sold. They were used for grass for cows or perhaps for growing potatoes. These plots whose boundaries were rather tenuous have changed hands over the years. Some have been sold as building sites and others are still used for producing vegetables. We have a vegetable Co-op in Ardmore and some of the owners produce vegetables on a large scale.
Author: Siobhan Lincoln