A Sense of Time and Place by James Reddiough

 In History

There was a time when time was just that time and people got things done in season.  This was important in an agrarian society where the farm work had to be done at the proper time of year and this meant a lot to the people.  They did not rush things and prepared thoroughly.

My aunt often tells of the time during her childhood when the men would be out working in the fields and then dinner hour would come around.  The men would have toiled in the field all morning and then it was time to come in and eat.  That time there would be a large table in the middle of the cottage or farm house kitchen and they would sit around it for the meal of the day at this time say fifty years ago or so there would be dinner in the middle of the day and it usually consisted of bacon and cabbage.

The men would eat their meal slowly and they would chat too there were no rushed lunches in those days like there is today.  They would take their time over every morsel and they would drink milk with the meal and have a cup of tea after and they would allocate an hour to their meal too.  When the dinner was eaten there was time to have a smoke of the pipe and this was an art in itself and an art in taking one’s time and enjoying the experience fully and thoroughly.

Yes this was how life was lived in the Ireland of the 1940’s and 1950’s and there was a pace and rhythm to life that meant there was a time an season to everything and they were true to this over the centuries.  For them there was as Joyce put it no thought tormented age to trouble them and they took their time.

Another friend of mine told me that when her grandparents would be going to visit their kin then they would take the horse an groom him properly for the journey and then clean and wipe the trap too so that all was in order well in advance there was no last minute rush in those days you know.  Then if a cousin or other relative or neighbour was to travel with them they would be notified of the event a few days in advance and in good time so that they could have their finest clothes and Sunday best all ready for the journey and the meeting with the people.

The farm work was done at an even pace too and this writer saw this at first hand and there could be no hurry or other distractions when the turf and hay was being saved and the same was true for the harvesting of the potatoes and the threshing of the corn all went at a slow and steady pace until it was completed and completed properly.  Of course people on farms did not have the machinery then that they have today and it took longer but was it the best way I find myself asking?

So, there was a sway to life and the people did not run about trying to do things at the last minute like they do today and often at great detriment to their health and social well – being.  Is there a lesson there for the way we live today and what is the price of progress?

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