A memory from Cregganbaun

The Pig's Head

By Maureen Maguire (nee Gavin)

Lifting the latch on the old thatched house, they said “good night” as they took their usual places at the strong home-made table. 

No phone calls, no text message, not necessary - they were always welcome; friends and neighbours from Cregganbaun, Althore, Cregganacopple, Derryheagh, Shrawee, Shrahrooskey and Cregganawoody.

Grandad got the pack of cards and all knew the rules.  A tanner a game, said one of them, maybe a couple of bob later, said another.

No swearing, no arguments, seldom a dispute.  Pounding on the table was part of the game, especially if you had the Jack or the Five, Ace of Hearts was always a good card. 

The laughter and jokes wore on.  Yes, long winter nights, ghost stories and song.  Card games for the Christmas pig’s head. 

Eleven o’clock went out to milk the grey cow and said “the cocoa won’t take long”.  Tea was very scarce during the war.  Stirring cocoa for twelve took time.

Trying to cut enough of Granny’s homemade bread wasn’t easy, the men had commandeered the table, which left me with very little room on the dresser.

Grandad made sure that every man left with a decent piece of the pig for his family.  Each one said “God bless ye” as they got up from the table and walked home.

Time for the rest of us to get down on our knees.  Grandad said the Rosary, and 'rake the ashes' he said, before ye go to bed.

A long busy day as usual; have I done my homework for tomorrow?

A humble people, their humour and their wit, a few precious books.  Old Moore’s Almanac, the lovely Bible Grand-Uncle Austin had sent home from America and the Irish Independent.

No radio, no news.  No poverty, no blues, as the oil lamp was lit. 

Contented people willing to help one another.  They didn’t have a lot but didn’t expect it either.

This page was added by Marcella Foster on 11/05/2018.

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