I was born in County Westmeath in Ireland Mullingar. I have five sisters and seven brothers, so there was a family of 12.
As a child growing up my mother got the food in the farmer’s houses. She used to call door-to-door, she used to go on call backs. She called to the houses with a basket she would sell pegs and nail brushes to provide food. She would build a relationship with the women, finding out stories about their lives. She would tell them what was going on in her life they shared experiences. It was a great storytelling thing.
My father would go out and pick potatoes to provide food for the family. That died away because of machinery. The farmers didn’t want the Travellers anymore because they got machinery. The tinsmithing that the Traveller men did – making buckets, cups and saucepans, mending stuff to feed cows – that all died away. Plastic buckets came into the supermarkets and did away with the tinware the Traveller men used to supply. That done away with that. That was my early years as a child growing up, they were my own memories.
My children, I have six children myself. I have five daughters and one son. It’s very different today for my children. I try to keep some of my mother’s traditions alive with the food that she made. I still cook things she made. I try to give it to my children but to be honest there is that much new stuff out there now they’re gone away with the fairies altogether.
I give the food that my mother made the bacon and cabbage I used to see her baking bread. If I provide spuds and cabbage they turn their nose up at it. There was no saying “what do you want?”, you ate what you were given whether you liked it or not. It was very nutritious. There’s lots of fizzy drinks now – I never saw anything like that in my day.
You drank milk or water or buttermilk it was very nutritious. My children would not drink buttermilk. Looking at all the different food that is out there I try to tell them that it’s not good because the younger ones coming up are looking at it.
I have grandchildren. I have three granddaughters and I have nine grandsons, there’s two more on the way one I think is a boy the other girl doesn’t know. I’m happy once the children are well and healthy that is all that matters in life.