Mary Morgan



Mary Morgan


Life History;


Mary Was born in west Cork near Kilmichael in 1922, her parents were small farmers. Their house and that of her grandmothers were ‘safehouses’ during the war of independence and civil war. In her twenty’s she moves to the city to work in public houses run by her sisters (The Gables on Douglas St, The Phoenix on Union Quay, and another unnamed bar on Patrick's Quay.) In the city she met her husband and subsequently opened a shop in Togher. Soon after she took up residence in her home in Glasheen where she raised her family and still resides today.

Mary Morgan talks about her childhood and memories of growing up in West Cork. Her parents surviving the Spanish Flu of 1918 and her oldest sister being born prematurely. She remembers the impact of the Economic War in the 1930s. She recounts some of the stories she heard about the War of Independence and Civil War. Arrests by the Black and Tans and some lucky escapes by IRA members. Tom Barry’s wife having tea at their house. On her father’s belief in hospitality. Recollections of moving up to Cork city and working in pubs owned by her sisters, before marrying and opening a shop of her own. Hearing a first-hand account of the Famine from a neighbour. Clashes between Blueshirts and Republicans at Platform Dances in West Cork.

Her first impressions of living in Cork city and how it differed from the countryside. On family who emigrated to America and other parts of the world. Running a shop and eventually moving to Glasheen. Remembering hearing ghost stories from the old men in West Cork.


31 October 2017




Ireland; Cork; Kilmichael; 1920s-2010s


Mary's story on the Spanish Flu was included in our 'Catching Stories' project on infectious diseases


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project










1 Hr 3 mins


Glasheen Road, Cork City

Bit Rate/Frequency

24bit / 48kHz

Time Summary

0.00.00 - 0.09.30

On Mary’s childhood. Her birth in West Cork and her family. On how the threshing of corn in particular was a big social occasion. Mary spent her early years in Kilmichael before moving to Cork city with her sisters, who owned a number of pubs.


Mary was born in Kilmichael on the 18th of March 1922. Her family were farmers. There were eight children. Five girls and three boys. Mary was the third girl. Her mother’s maiden name was Mary Hurley and she was from the same area. Her fathers name was Patrick Murphy. She describes her childhood as very happy. They lived at a crossroads and kept a very open house. Every night people came to play cards. Mary’s mother played the concertina. There was no electricity in the house and no running water, only a well down the road. Despite this, Mary says they were very happy for a long time. The first bad thing Mary remembers is the Economic War. They couldn’t sell their cattle and money became scarce. Mary always had an interest in the farm and worked on it until she got married. They had a lot of land, a hundred and something acres. A lot of it was rough land.


The threshing of corn every year was a big event. Usually there would be dancing and singing in the house afterwards. In the summer the men would cut turf from the bogs. Mary remembers bringing tea and sandwiches to them. Two of the turf cutter’s dogs started fighting and their owners nearly came to blows over the dogs.


Two of her older sisters worked in a local shop. Another sister worked in Bandon with an aunt who owned a shop and a pub. Later they all came to live in the city and opened pubs themselves. The Gables in Douglas was one of the pubs. The Phoenix was another one. A third sister had a pub on the quays called the Green Bow. That was sold and her sister bought a shop on the Western Road, opposite Jury’s Hotel. Mary worked in the Gables for a bit before her mother died. Back then you could put up a notice saying ‘No Ladies Served’ but you can’t do that nowadays. One of her brothers stayed home on the farm. Another brother worked in the County Hall but then left for Dublin to lecture in the college. He’s only dead with a year.


0.09.51 - 0.13.33

Mary talks about the Economic War and how that made it difficult for her own family to sell their cattle. Despite the Economic War, her father was still a supporter of Fianna Fail, while most of the other nearby farmers supported Fine Gael. She talks about how WWII meant better prices for farmers.


Mary’s son Pat entered and after some introductions, Mary continued to talk more about the Economic War. Most of the farmers, especially the big farmers, were very opposed to Fianna Fail. Mary’s describes her father as a rabid Republican. Only a few of the other nearby farmers would have supported Fianna Fail. The local priests were going mad over Fianna Fail and comparing them to Bolsheviks. One of the priests, Canon Goold, used to ride around on a horse and often argued with Mary’s father over his support for Fianna Fail. Despite DeValera being responsible for the Economic War, Mary’s father still blamed England for the tariffs on cattle. Mary remembers being down in Ballineen selling cattle with her brother. Mary’s father had two heifers for sale but had trouble selling them. Mary was terrified of going home to her mother without money. The heifers ran off and Mary got them back, eventually being able to sell them for £6 each. In 1939 when the tariffs were removed, prices on cattle went up again. Mary remembers her father later selling two heifers to a buyer at home for £40. After that life became comfortable again. 1933 to 1939 were hard years according to Mary.


0.13.33 - 0.17.37

Mary talks more about her parents and how they survived the flu epidemic of 1918. The beginnings of the War of Independence and the use of safehouses in the area by the IRA. On some of the local men who were arrested on suspicion of IRA membership.


During the First World War and just after, farmers got great prices for everything. Mary’s parents married in February 1918 and were able to live comfortably because the war meant they were able to sell anything. Mary’s parents both contracted the Spanish Flu while her mother was expecting her first child in 1918. The child had been due in February but arrived early in December. Because the flu was so contagious, people were terrified to enter the house to help. Both Mary’s parents survived. The two brothers renting the farm next door died from the flu. A local doctor told Mary that anyone who contracted the flu didn’t live to be old because it damaged their hearts. Straight after that, the trouble started according to Mary. A nearby house was used as a safe house by Republicans. Mary remembers her mother telling her how the Republicans would bring in straw and spread it all over the floor in the upper room. One night ten men slept there. Scouts stood by the windows and would tap with their guns if they saw anything. Mary’s son Pat points out a photo of a group of IRA suspects in Dunmanway Workhouse. Mary knew one of the men in the photo, Tim Buckley, who went to live in the United States. The other men in the photo were Richard Donovan, William Bohane and Jim Donovan. Tim Buckley married in the United States but his wife died from tuberculosis. They had one child.


Tim came back to live in Ireland with his child because they couldn’t afford to live in the United States. He used to work on Mary’s farm sometimes. The day Tim Buckley was arrested he was carrying turf across the bog. The police had local information that he was helping the IRA but he wouldn’t have been very active in the IRA. They took him and others to the barracks in Cappeen. The Donovan’s weren’t with them because they weren’t local. William Bohane had no connection to the IRA but any young man found at home was suspected of being in the IRA. There was another young man who was a shoemaker, arrested at home in bed after being drunk. The Tans began questioning Tim Buckley and one of them hit him with his rifle in the mouth, knocking out his front teeth.



0.17.50 - 0.20.25

On Mary’s paternal grandmother and their connections to Republicanism. How one of her cousins was almost caught by the Black and Tans and how some help from a local shopkeeper and the quick thinking of Mary’s mother saved them.


Mary’s paternal grandmother was from beyond Macroom and there might have been a Fenian tradition on that side of the family but not from her grandfather’s side. Her grandmother’s maiden name was also Murphy. Her neighbours fought against the Black and Tans near Macroom. Mary’s first cousin on her father’s side, Jim Murphy and another man named Charlie Brown came into Cappeen in a horse and trap with revolvers in their pockets and drove into a place full of Black and Tans. Even though the two men nearly died of fright they had to keep going. They tied up the horse and pretended to be going shopping. The shopkeeper saved their lives. Mary describes the shopkeeper as being well in with the Tans. Because of the shopkeeper, the Tans never searched the two men and let them go.


They drove back up to Mary’s house and were met by Mary’s mother, who warned them that the Tans had just gone up the road. That was where they arrested Timmy Buckley. When Jim Murphy and Charlie Brown heard about the Tans, they tied the horse up and Mary’s mother put on her jacket, pretending she was going somewhere with the horse. The two men ran off down the fields. The Tans never came down as far as the house but instead went back the way they originally came because they had arrested Tim Buckley and the other men. They kept Timmy Buckley and the Donovan man for a week but let William Bohane go home. They must have had local information that William Bohane wasn’t in the IRA. They knew who was in it and who wasn’t.



0.20.26 - 0.25.33

More on the War of Independence and the Civil War. Living not far from Kilmichael when the ambush took place. How a local man was suspected by the IRA of informing against them but later released thanks to information supplied by a local postmaster. On how fear of the IRA made people give them shelter. Mary’s grandmother gave shelter to the IRA but also had a daughter married to a member of the RIC.


According to Mary, her parent’s house was never raided by the Tans. But it did get raided by the Free State soldiers during the Civil War. Her father had guns hidden under the hay and got a fright. There was a heavy shower and the Free State soldiers took shelter with the hay. They were sitting on top of the guns but never realised. The reason the Tans never raided the house was because they didn’t like going down the narrow roads if they could avoid it. It was too dangerous for them. The house was only a few miles away from where the Kilmichael ambush took place and Mary’s father heard the guns going off. There was an old notebook found on one of the Tans and Mary bought it off the Southern Star. She still has it in the house somewhere. After the Truce, when the British troops were evacuating Dunmanway, an Irishman took a diary out of a Tan’s pocket. The notebook contained information about the local IRA. Where they slept at night, how many guns they carried and descriptions of them. One man was arrested by the IRA on suspicion of being an informant and kept him for three days. His mother was searching the area, worried the IRA had shot him. A cousin of Mary’s father saved his life. He worked at the post office in Cappeen and knew who was really informing because he read the letters going to the Tans. Most of those letters were confiscated by the postmen. Mary thinks it was a woman who was informing.


While most people in the local area weren’t Republicans, they still wouldn’t inform on them. Mary’s very near neighbours were more interested in making money and putting it into big farms. But there were some nearby who were very pro-IRA. People had no choice but to keep the IRA if they came because they would be afraid of them as well. Mary’s grandmothers house was further up into the hills and was also used as a safehouse by the IRA. One of her daughters was married to an RIC man in Dublin. But he had died before the War of Independence and she was living at home. One time, her husband’s brother, who was also in the Dublin Metropolitan Police, wrote to her asking could he visit for a holiday. He was fed up in Dublin and wanted to get away for a bit. Her grandmother wrote back to say he was welcome but he might have to share the house with people he wouldn’t agree with. He sat in the parlour with his hat on the table and a revolver under it, while IRA men ate in the kitchen. He didn’t say anything. Many of the RIC were sympathetic but still had to do their jobs. A lot of them didn’t want the Tans around either.


0.25.35 - 0.28.44

On hearing stories about the War of Independence when she was young and trying to get relatives to talk about it. On a man who used to come into her sisters pub who told her about his involvement in killing three British soldiers.


Mary remembers hearing these stories when she was young. When Timmy Buckley came back from America, he was always telling stories. Mary’s cousin, who was involved in ambushes during the War of Independence, never spoke about it. Mary tried to get him to talk about it. He was arrested during the Civil War and sent to Cork Gaol. He was among those who broke out of the prison. Mary thinks those who were very involved with the fighting didn’t want to talk about it. She thinks they hated what they had to do. Jim Murphy was involved in an attack on the Kilmurray barracks but they didn’t succeed. The barracks was burned down later. There was another man who used to come into her sisters pub and he was also very involved in the War of Independence. She thinks he shot a lot of people. One day, Mary was alone with him and kept asking him to talk about it. He told her about the Tans killing some people at a match in Glanmire and how the IRA were told to kill a British soldier for each person killed by the Tans. He described the three soldiers that they shot. They took the soldiers out to Blarney and shot them there. Mary thinks it had an awful effect on the man. He talked to himself a lot and was a bit daft from it. Mary thinks Ireland would have been worse off under England because we would have been bombed during WWII.


0.28.45 - 0.37.47

Mary talks about going to school until she was 15 and the stories she would have heard at home. She recalls the local tailor and how the children would play with the empty reels. Mary’s father was a big believer in hospitality and often welcomed tinkers to stay in exchange for them making household items. Tramps were also invited to stay, although Mary’s mother didn’t approve. Some of these were WW1 veterans dealing with shellshock. There was a story about a farmer down in Kerry who murdered his wife and tried to cover it up.


Mary attended school until the age of 15. There wasn’t much talk about the War of Independence period in school. One teacher might have talked about it. Mary would have been hearing the stories at home around the fire and she considers her home to have been a ‘rambling house’. John Hennessy, the shoemaker, along with a tailor, another shoemaker, a carpenter and a harness maker would all come to visit. The harness maker would come every few years to do the harness and would spend the day stitching up different things. They would take their shoes over to be repaired and getting new soles put on them. The tailor would make her fathers suit. The tailor has his own house up the road. The table took up the entire kitchen and there were big reels of thread on it. He kept all the empty reels for the children and they would put twine through them to make horses. Tinkers used to come and stay during the summer. Mary’s father would never refuse anyone. They would bring straw down from the haggart and put it into the trap. A big family would sleep in it for a week. The Tinkers would make tins, cups, jugs and milk containers to sell around. Mary thinks they had a place in Dunmanway. Around twenty years ago, Mary’s brother was at home one day. A big heavy woman came into the door. She wanted to show her son, who was home from England, where they used to spend their summer holidays. The house she used to stay in was gone. It was on the side of the road and had been knocked. It had been a big, long open shed.


Mary’s father would never refuse anyone and he kept a lot of tramps. He didn’t like to see anyone else without a bed. These people would never come into the house, except the girls at night. Mary’s mother didn’t like them playing with the girls but her father encouraged it. Mary’s father felt you should be as nice to the tramp as you would be to the Bishop. Everyone should be treated equally. He wasn’t afraid of anyone. A man came one night, just after WW1, and a lot of them were suffering from shell shock. Mary’s mother refused to allow him to sleep in the house. They set up a mattress for him in the barn. He had a box of matches in his pocket and he spent the night cracking matches. The floor was covered in burnt matches. There was thunder and lightning during the night. Mary’s mother woke up and seeing the lightning, thought the man had set fire to the barn. She looked out and could hear him singing at the top of his voice at the thunder and lightning. Mary’s mother went off to mass the next morning, leaving her father and the young children at home with the man. He sang for them. Mary recites the words of the song.


Mary’s father took an interest in everyone and they would all tell him their stories. Mary’s not sure if it’s fair to repeat some of the stories, in case these people have descendants in the area. Mary tells a story about a murder down in Kerry involving a very wealthy farmer. It was rare to hear about a murder in the paper back then. This farmer murdered his wife and tried to pretend that she died attempting to rescue a turkey from the well. But he was charged with the murder. A tramp came to Mary’s house and it was his aunt who was the murder victim. The tramp’s father was another wealthy farmer but the he left home because his father beat him when he was 16. He went down to a nearby town and enlisted in the British army. He described the Battle of the Somme. He began to smoke opium as a way of coping with the horrors of war and became addicted. When he was discharged he was offered either a pension or a lump sum. He took the lump sum and spent it all on drugs. That’s how he ended up going from door to door. Mary’s father would sometimes offer to give the tramp a shilling but he refused to take it. Mary doesn’t know what happened to the tramps. One tramp nearly died at their house but the ambulance came and took him away. They brought him to Clonakilty where he died there. Many of the tramps were very neglected. A lot of people would feed them. Some of the tramps would demand food. One of them was an ex-teacher who had fallen on hard times.

0.37.52 - 0.39.07

On reading a book about Brendan Behan by Ulrick O Connor


Mary was reading a book about Brendan Behan written by Ulrick O Connor. According to the book, Brendan Behan saved the farmer who murdered his wife from the gallows. He was to be hanged but Brendan Behan drove him mad. Behan used to torment the man in the exercise yard of the prison. One day the man got so mad that he had an epileptic fit. He was taken away in an ambulance and sent to hospital.

0.39.14 - 0.42.33

Despite Republican connections in the family, there was no involvement with Cumann na mBan. On some aunts who were married to men in the Dublin Metropolitan Police. On how one of Mary’s aunts helped an IRA member get out of police custody by pretending he was her brother. She had to leave Cork afterwards and return home to West Cork until the Troubles ended.

None of Mary’s family was involved in Cumann na mBan. One of her aunts was married to a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Another aunt was also married to another DMP member but he left it because his family’s shop was being boycotted. If he didn’t quit the police the shop wouldn’t survive. Her aunt Peggy married in Cork at the same time as her mother. One of Mary’s uncles went to live in America and Mary’s mother was delighted with this.

One day, Mary’s aunt was visiting other cousins who were also in the IRA and met with Charlie Brown. She thought he was the image of her brother Willie, who was in America. A few weeks later, Charlie was arrested and he gave Willie’s name and address, claiming that he was Willie and was working in Fords in Cork. He was brought to the barracks in Cork. Mary’s aunt was married in Cork at the time. She was a very small woman, only 5’1 or 5’2 and expecting her second baby. She got word from the IRA to go to the barracks and identify her brother. Charlie Brown wrote a book about it afterwards and mentioned how this brave little woman came to get him out and saved his life. Speaking to Mary about it years later, her aunt said she was a terrified little woman. She was as terrified of refusing the IRA as she was of doing it. They were very nice to her in the barracks and promised not to do any harm to her. They allowed her to talk to her ‘brother’. The ruse worked and Charlie Brown was released. He was supposed to report to the barracks every week but he didn’t. Mary’s aunt had to flee Cork city as a result. Her baby was born at Mary’s house. She stayed there until the Troubles ended. The Truce was signed not long afterwards. She was lucky because the police could have found out who she was. Charlie Brown was very involved with the IRA in Macroom.

0.42.39 - 0.43.42

On moving up to Cork city when she was 24, working in her sister’s pub and helping out on the farm at home.


Mary moved to Cork city when she was 24. Her sister had opened a pub on Douglas Street. Mary was there for about a year, coming in and out. She went home again when her mother died. She helped out on the farm with the hens, duck, geese and turkeys. This was in the late 1940s. Her mother died in 1948. Her father had died in 1944. Mary’s eldest brother took over the farm.

0.43.47 - 0.46.30

Encounters with the Blueshirts in the 1930s. Going to watch Platform Dances in Glan on a Sunday. There was an agreement between Republicans and Blueshirts that no political symbols would be worn, but the Blueshirts broke the agreement. This led to a fight and the end of Platform Dances in the area.


Mary remembers the Blueshirts from when she was 14 or 15. Mary wasn’t allowed to go dancing but they were allowed to go looking at people dancing at the platforms. There were dances in different places on a Sunday afternoon and someone playing music. Nuala and Mary were allowed go back to Glan to see the dancing but weren’t supposed to do any dancing themselves. They went down on a Sunday. At the time there was a lot of animosity between different groups, Republicans and Blueshirts. They had an agreement that no political signs of any description were to be worn, like badges or blue shirts. It was a place for dancing and fun and not for politics. The following Sunday, they went down again and there was one girl there with a Blueshirt. Later, Mary saw 20 men wearing blueshirts and black ties coming down the road on bicycles. It was all arranged that the girl would be there and one of the Blueshirts started dancing with her. The minute they started dancing the music stopped and they started arguing about the no politics agreement. The next thing they were all beating each other. Nuala and Mary ran away home. While walking up the road, they met a girl who took a wrench from her bicycle repair kit and went down to join in the fight. One fella was carried away in a stretcher afterwards. That was the end of the platform dancing. Mary was too young to be allowed dance as she was only 14. Once they got older they were allowed dance. 

0.46.32 - 0.50.10

On whether the War of Independence was worth it and getting the Treaty Ports back. On Irish not being spoken widely when she was young. An Irish poem her father used to recite. Two of her nieces became teachers. May remembered learning about the Famine when she was in school and an elderly neighbour who had lived through it.


Mary thinks Irish independence was hard won but the best thing was when Ireland got the Treaty Ports back. Otherwise, Ireland would have been bombed during the war. She believes if Ireland had still been under English rule Germany would definitely have dropped a few bombs on us.  The Irish language would definitely have been gone, although Mary doesn’t know if that would be a good or bad thing. She doubts the English would have allowed it to be so prominent. Mary didn’t have Irish when she was young, although her father had some. They weren’t allowed teach it in schools. Her father spent months trying to learn it. He had one little poem out of a schoolbook he liked to recite. The tailor living nearby was from Ballyvourney and a native Irish speaker. Mary says they didn’t appreciate the language. If the children were making noise they would be scolded in Irish. Mary picked up some Irish over the years, especially when she was in school. Two of her nieces are teachers. They attended boarding school in Fermoy.


Prompted by her son, Mary mentions learning about the Famine while at school. One of her neighbours, Mrs Barrett was in her 80s and remembered the Famine. But she didn’t want to talk about it out of pride. Mary realised she had put her foot in it. Mrs Barrett remembered people who didn’t have food and being slapped by her mother for giving bread to those on their way to the workhouse in Dunmanway. Before the Famine there were eight houses up past Cappeen and most of them were gone after the Famine. Only the farmers survived and a lot of the cottier people died.

0.050.11 - 0.55.35

Talking about some of the poetry she wrote herself but not wanting to read it out for the recording. On adjusting to moving from the countryside into the city. On being driven up to Cork in a lorry and her first impressions of Douglas Street. No cars on the street at the time, just donkeys and ponies. The vegetable dealers who used to sell on the street. Discussing her nephew, Liam Ó Muirthile. On opening up a shop on Tramore Road and eventually deciding to move to Glasheen. On attempting to sell their shop a few times.


Mary writes poetry herself but isn’t comfortable reading it out for the recording but offers to read it out after the interview. Mary moved to the city and met her future husband, Tom. She also had a boyfriend in the country at the time. When she first started in the Gables, Mary missed the freedom of being able to walk out and run down the field. She was fascinated by all the people walking along. At night she would sit at the window looking at all the people walking along. She eventually came to like living in the city.


Her very first day on Douglas Street, she came up in a lorry from Cappeen. The owner of the lorry drove her all the way up to the door. Douglas Street was covered in donkeys and small ponies. There were no cars to be seen. There were tables for vegetable dealers up at the top from the Market Gardens. They would come into the pub for a drink in the morning after selling their goods. It was a very busy pub in those days. The Gables was always a good sized pub. It was home to her sister and most of her children. One of her sister’s sons is the poet Liam Ó Muirthile. Mary has an article about him that was in the Examiner. He lives out in Douglas now.


When she married, Mary and her husband opened a shop on Tramore Road, off Togher Road. She was worn out from working in the shop and looking after young children. Mary’s brother lived nearby in Glasheen. Where the houses are now there were still fields. One night Mary was playing cards with her brother, who was living in Glasheen at the time and they were building houses in the nearby field. Mary said to her husband they would give up the shop and buy one of the houses. Mary couldn’t do it any longer. They put the shop up for sale. The man who bought the shop came and spent a day working behind the counter with them. He gave out sweets to all the children and told them he would be the new shopkeeper. The next day he rang Mary and told her he had decided not to bother. At the time there was a woman who used to help in the shop and she offered to rent it from them. They rented the shop to her and came to live in Glasheen. Later, the lady renting the shop wanted to give it up because her daughter got married. Mary and her husband took back the shop and still have it.

0.55.50 - 1.01.47

On being asked about Tom Barry and his connections to Kilmichael. Although Mary never remembers Tom Barry ever being in their house, his wife Leslie Price did have tea with them once. On large scale emigration due to lack of work. All of Mary’s uncles emigrated. One was a Christian Brother in New Zealand and the others went to America. One of her uncles was a bus driver in New York for a few years but after getting in an accident he moved to Boston. He died young because of the flu. More of how Mary’s parents contracted the Spanish Flu in 1918 and almost died. Her sister being born premature and how her grandmother and aunt marched down to the priest to get her baptised. On the custom of ‘Churching’.


Being from Kilmichael, Mary has a few stories about Tom Barry. Tom Barry married Leslie Price and she had tea in Mary’s house. Mary’s mother was told to make a special tea because there was a very important person coming, Ms Price. Mary’s mother was a bit dicey about the IRA because she came from a different kind of a crowd. Mary’s mother claimed Ms Price didn’t thank her very much. Mary’s mother didn’t think much of her. Mary doesn’t think Tom Barry ever came into their house. Mary’s mother was from Kilmichael parish as well, only up the road from where they lived. Mary’s grandmother came from beyond Macroom. They were the ones with the IRA connections. The farm is still there but Mary’s family sold it. They called there one time and the farmer was clearing out a sand pit. He knocked out a big lot of ammunition. His two brothers went to America. They all had to emigrate then. There was no work in Ireland, even on the roads. The new Irish government favoured their own and Fianna Fail were the same.


Emigration had a big part to play in Mary’s family. All her uncles went away. One uncle, Jim, was a Christian Brother, he ended up in New Zealand for 40 years. He came back to Ireland and died in Dublin, in the O’Brien institute. He was at Mary’s brothers wedding. He died suddenly from heart failure. The other two uncles went to America and they have families still there, Mary’s cousins. One lot of them came to visit Ireland once. One of the uncles came back to die in Ireland but he was a bit gone in the brain. Mary had a neighbour who visited them in America. They were living in Boston. Mary’s uncle Willie was in New York first, working as a bus driver. He had an accident with the bus. Mary found out about it from a neighbour. He was in America illegally and had to go away to avoid being found out. He travelled down to Boston. He married an Irish girl and had a family in Boston. He lived there all his life but died very young. He died from the flu and had it even worse than Mary’s parents.


Mary’s older sister was born prematurely, when her parents were suffering from the flu and the weather was terrible. Mary’s grandmother and aunt were the only ones who would go into the house. They still took the baby down to be christened in case she died. She lived to be 83. She was the sister who owned the Gables Pub. Mary has a number of stories about her grandmother. She was a very tall woman, nearly 6ft. The rest of the family were small but her grandmother’s people were very tall. A number of them had been in the RIC. According to Mary, very few Catholics were accepted in the RIC, but they were so tall an exception was made. When her grandmother went down to the priests house to get Mary’s sister baptised, his housekeeper answered the door and told them they had to wait because the priest was having his dinner. Mary’s grandmother elbowed the housekeeper out of the way and marched into the room and told the priest to baptise the child. There were other traditions at the time such as Churching. Mary did it herself but it’s not done anymore.

1.01.47 - 1.03.31

Remembering some Halloween traditions when she was young and hearing ghost stories from some of the old men in the area. Mary and her sister weren’t allowed listen to the stories but would try to sneak back in to hear them. She learned other poems from some of her neighbours.


Mary says they didn’t have many Halloween traditions when they were very young. That didn’t happen until they were older and started going to school. It wasn’t even mentioned much. They would have had old men telling ghost stories. Of all the locals, John Tom told the scariest stories. Mary and her sister would be terrified going to bed after listening to his stories about all the dead people. Mary’s mother tried to put the children out when she saw him coming. She had a horror of any sort of nasty talk. Mary would try to sneak back in to hear his stories. The Buckleys were the same. They would teach Mary old poems that weren’t very nice. Mary had a talent for picking things up. She promises to read out some of her own poems after the interview.


End of interview.


Cork Folklore Project, “Mary Morgan,” accessed August 12, 2022,