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Ardmore Memory and Story - Life and Work

2. Tigaluinn
Tigaluinn was my home from the late 1920's until my marriage in 1945 and again from 1955 to 1965 when I sold it. My sister Eileen was born there in January 1921 and later on my brothers Michael and James (I was born in my aunt's house, Mrs Quain of the Cliff, before my parents finally settled down in Ardmore).

When we acquired the house, it was two storey with a flat roof and breast-high wall all round. My parents proceeded to make that a third storey. Paddy Troy of Grange and Charlie Power of Old Parish worked on it. My father went for bricks to Youghal brickyard with a pony and cart. I do remember seeing through the school windows, buckets of cement being raised by pulley.

This was the period of the Irish courses, when there was a considerable number of visitors staying at Coláiste Deuglán and several other houses in the village. We had 30 teachers staying for the four weeks of August every year. They paid £10 each i.e. £2.10.0 per week and the £300 was immediately brought to the bank, to help alleviate the debt incurred in building.

I have vivid recollections of every-day life in Tigaluinn during that period. The standards of accommodation would appear horrendous to present day visitors, but I feel absolutely sure, our standards were very high, knowing my mother had very high personal standards. In any case she had had experience of hotel work in Tuam, Vaughan's Hotel, Dublin and Kellys of Rosslare, where she spent several happy years and had a close personal friendship with the family, which lasted through the years (as a matter of fact, we contributed some photographs to their centenary celebrations in 1995. I want to mention this just to show what high standards of which my mother had experience.)

The bedroom accommodation meant, there were two people per double bed and two double beds in a room. There would have been correspondence with the incoming guests and they knew precisely what the conditions were. Each room had a washstand with basin and ewer of water, towels, chamber pots and slop buckets. These slop buckets had to be carried down daily and emptied down the drain my father had installed at the back of the house and making its way down along the backs of the houses in the row, towards the sea (this same scheme is still in operation). Candles in candlesticks gave light and these had to be cleaned every day as well, so all in all the daily cleaning of the bedrooms was no sinecure.

The toilet facilities consisted of a dry lavatory out in the back yard, its wooden seat scrubbed daily and chloride of lime used in the aperture itself. For this purpose, there was a bucket of sand and a shovel kept in the lavatory also. The toilet paper consisted of neat squares of old newspapers replenished each day and there was no such thing as ladies' and gents' apartments. All lined up for the use of the one premises which looked quite attractive with the rambler roses growing around it.

In the dining-room, there were four tables, which I remember well, having been laying the tables there from the age of four onwards (I.e. placing the cups, saucers and plates in the appropriate places). There were two square tables seating six people each, a long one seating ten people and a round one seating eight people.

My father was always up first, even though the rest of his day was more often spent in other pursuits away from the house. He lighted the fire in the kitchen range and put on the kettles and the big double cooker for the porridge. The menu for breakfast was porridge and bacon and egg, the men being allotted three rashers and the ladies two. This was varied some days with liver or sausage. The next meal was at 12am, when all returned for lunch, a sit down meal of tea with bread, butter and jam. Dinner was at 3pm, a four-course meal of soup, joint, sweet and tea. Tea followed at 7pm, tea, bread butter and jam again with fruitcake (huge slabs all wrapped up in 'silver paper' and bought in town). The jam was bought in big earthenware pots, which later were used for containing dripping, a good deal of which my mother dispensed to various people after the season.

Cleaning the knives in the big circular machine, which held 3 knives at a time, was a familiar chore in pre-stainless steel days, as was the transformation of pounds of creamery butter into small, dainty butter pats. A side of bacon was bought at a time and my father was really matchless in cutting this up into rashers; no present day machine could equal his ability. If ever he happened to arrive home at dinnertime, he was always given the job of carving. The carving knife was kept very much apart and dare anyone lay a finger on it.

The teachers attending the courses did enjoy themselves. One of my memories is of singsongs at our piano and passers-by congregating outside on the road to listen in.

The accompanying pictorial advertisement on notepaper referred to a time in the 30's, not quite so Spartan as in the initial days of the Irish courses, in so far as the bedroom accommodation was more generous, but there was no running water until 1937. In spite of that, we had several satisfied guests who returned on holidays year after year. Cliff House and Melrose tended to over-shadow the Tigaluinn picture but my mother's very high standards (observe the maid in black dress, starched apron and cap) overcame many of our drawbacks. Running water had come in 1937 and the dry lavatory in the yard was converted, and there was water in the kitchen taps.

The great leap forward was in 1938, when the new extension was put on and wash basins were installed in all bedrooms (i.e. 7) on the first floor, plus a bathroom and toilet with a toilet also downstairs.

Guests continued to come. I remember among several others Dom Wenoc Mertens, cousin of the Little Flower, the Looby family (Mr. Looby was co-founder of Roches Stores), Seámus Dalton, first translator in the Dáil; the O'Connell family one of whom became the wife of Benedict Kiely, the well-known novelist; the Clarkes of stained glass fame, Dr. O'Flaherty and Mme Servais of the French Faculty in U.C.C., Nano Reid, well-known painter from Dublin and many others.

My mother was an excellent manager and we all had our assignments, but in the evening before departing to football field, céilí at the college or whatever, the Rosary had to be said. I remember well one evening, when my brother James had us all rounded up ready to begin and my mother asked him to drop in to Fr. O'Neill in the sitting-room with a jacket into which she had replaced a missing button. The door between was open and we could hear Fr. O'Neill inviting James to listen to a tune he was lilting, and we could hear James' agonised rejoinder, "Yes father, yes father, I'm in a bit of a hurry now father." We were giggling to ourselves, as we understood James' discomfiture perfectly. He was on tenterhooks in case we all scattered again.

My mother's health was failing and my sister stayed at home to help and eventually moved to Melrose in 1955.

Attached is a photograph of Jim and Cormac Murphy-O'Connor eldest and youngest of the five sons of Dr. and Mrs Murphy O'Connor from Reading who spent each August in Ardmore in the bungalow now owned by Mr Billy Murphy, they were always in and out to us in Tigaluinn. Cormac used play 'Hot-Cross Buns' with one finger on our piano and when my mother asked him one day what he'd like to be when he grew up he answered a "poke" i.e Pope. He was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and has now been chosen to succeed the late Cardinal Basil Hume in the See of West Minster.

Author: Siobhan Lincoln

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