“I think what was considered a good upbringing for a child, at the beginning of the century, left it with a slave mentality and no self confidence. The child wasn’t often praised, except for some person who wanted an unpaid favour.
“There was little danger of becoming an insufferable little prig owing to it getting ideas of its own self-importance. The child was brought up in an atmosphere of ‘don’t spare the rod’; ‘speak when you’re spoken to’; and ‘be seen and not heard’.
“Then we went to school and got whacked by the teachers if we were slow to learn that we should ‘Love one another that God loved us.’
“We learned that the ‘rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, and ordered their estate.’
Brigid McMaugh, who was 80 years old, recalled, “If you made any wee shape at larning at all the master wouldn’t be too bad. There were big lumps of caddies and they were kept in school until they were 20 - or more. Some would by follying’ the horses at the plough wan day and at school the next.
“I mind going to Eskra School and John Deery was there – a big lump of a caddy – and William Robert Mitchell. The master had letters on the board and he says to William, ‘Read them out.’
“William read on a bit until he came to ‘S’ and he couldn’t mind what hit was, as he says, ‘That’s a twisted boy – it puts me in mind of the swing bar of me father’s oul plough.’
“At the start of the winter, in my early school days, the master brought a horse load of turf which kept the fire going until the usual arrangements for continuity of supply got under way and, as infants we, …enjoyed the lion share of the heating.
“The following year, we were supposed to contribute two turf each, each morning. Greater expectations from the older pupils were rarely realized. The children who lived in rented or cottier houses were, as a general rule, poor contributors, having little enough for their own consumption – never mind the surplus.
“There was normally a lot of bickering and ill-will in the vicinity, owing to their habit of gathering ‘brushney’ – dead branches in the hedgerows. Hungry animals were apt to take advantage of fences which were denuded and thus weakened in this way.
“We regarded these children as being poor, and probably felt a bit superior. It was many years later that the Welfare State pointed out our error - that we were also poor.
“One pupil used to sit at the door. I never knew why, but it was always a girl. She took our names and the number of turf brought in by each pupil. This was read out daily in the vain hope of embarrassing the none contributors.
“Then, as now, some had a decent principle and some just had a principle.
“We sometimes broke turf in two, to share with a friend in need, and carried them in such a way as to pretend that they were complete. There was one girl who inspected them and we were liable to be credited with two clods.
“Strange enough, it was the less strict girl who, in alter life became a process server or summons officer. I am sure that the other one was born before her time or she would have found her vocation either as a traffic warden or a prison official.”
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