Listen to me tell my story:

My name is Brigid Collins. I live in Finglas. I was born in Co. Meath. I travelled all around Offaly. We left Meath and travelled around all Offaly. I had seven sisters and six brothers. We would go out in the country with my mother, she sold tinware. My father was a tin smith and a wagon builder. He would make the cans and the buckets and the saucepans. We would go out into the country with my mother. My mother would sell them or trade them for spuds and cabbage and bacon in the farmers houses and butter because the farmers would not have much money either. They would give us a bail of straw for our tent and a bail of hay for our pony.

My mother would come back to the campfire and she’d put on a big pot of spuds and cabbage. Then she would take down her oven and bake five or six big cakes of bread. She kept us well fed and warm. My brothers would go off fishing, they’d go hunting, they’d catch a rabbit or a hare and my mother would cook that next day. We’d have plenty of firewood and we’d sit around the campfire eating. We would shake up the straw in the tent. Everyone of the girls had their own job to do, wash up, clean around the fire. We’d look at my mother baking the bread, putting on the bacon and cabbage. That is how we learned, we watched everything she done around the campfire.

It was hard in the wintertime but absolutely beautiful in the summertime. We would have two tents, we would have a sheltered tent. My father and mother would have a caravan.

The girls slept in one tent and the boys in another. We were nice and warm. We had a nice lamp hanging in the sheltered tent to show us light. We always had sticks in the corner to get up and start the fire early in the morning. My mother would get up early in the morning and we would get up early in the morning. We get breakfast and head off out in the country and we’d do the same thing over and over everyday. In the summertime as I said it was beautiful, my mother wouldn’t bake her bread till eight or nine in the evening. My father and my brothers and my sisters would go down cutting the turf in the bog. My mother would go out in the country and we’d go with her. She’d be back early to boil the dinner. She always made sure that we had enough of food.

The farmers were very good to us. We would pull the beet for the farmers and pick the spuds for the farmers in the wintertime. They were very good to us. They trusted us and we trusted them. You’d go in, the door was always wide open. She’d bring you in and if she had potatoes boiled in a big skillet she’d give you some as well.

That is how life went. We enjoyed it. My eldest sisters and brothers grew up and got married and went their own way. We all got married at the end of it. I got married and came to Dublin. I had three children on the road. I came to Dublin, to Finglas. I’m fifty years in Finglas. I never left.

All my family is married. I’ve grandchildren and great grandchildren. We never left anymore.