‘Don’t Tell Your Mother’. #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 87 #100DaysOfOldDays

For today’s post I decided to do a bit of research in order to determine what style of parenting I was raised with.

Bear with me…this is not a boring lesson on parenting psychology. Sure who am I to lecture on parenting styles?

In the 1960’s, phychologist Diana Baumrind worked on developing ‘parenting styles theory’. She categorised them into four styles; authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and neglectful. The model was later redefined by Maccoby and Martin in 1983.

After inspecting each model, I’ve put my parents into a category!

Here’s what each one means (Just in case you’re not in the know).

Authoritarian; strict rules, harsh punishment if rules are not followed, little or no reasoning for the rules and punishments, high expectations, unsympathetic, unaccepting, cold, demand respect.

Authoritative; warm and nurturing, reason instead of demanding, encourage independence, consistent with enforcing boundaries, earn their child’s respect rather than demand it, encourage independence, teach about values and moral behaviour.

Permissive; set very few rules and are reluctant to enforce these rules, few boundaries.

Neglectful; they don’t set firm boundaries or high standards for their children, uninvolved in their childrens’ lives.

Going by this model I can safely say that my mother was an authoritative parent.

My father falls into a completely different parenting style category. One that’s called, ‘Don’t Tell Your Mother.’

I’ll explain…

While Mam was the rule maker, Dad was the rule breaker. We only broke the rules when Daddy Dearest encouraged us to.

When Mam would be getting ready for bingo he’d say to her, ‘Now Mam, get these to bed before you go because they won’t go for me.’

She’d have the supper in us, the jammies on and we’d be all tucked up in bed as she was leaving. She’d walk across the terrace to get the bingo bus to either Kells, Tullyvin, Shercock, or Kingscourt. Different towns on different nights.

As soon as she was out of sight, Dad would come up the stairs, ‘She’s gone,’ he’d cheer. We’d get up and the fun would begin. On the bright summer evenings he’d let us get dressed and go outside to play. ‘Don’t tell your mother,’ he’d warn.

On dark or wet evenings he’d let us watch telly, or play games. He’d sprinkle sugar on the floor (we had linoleum) so we could slide up and down in our socks. He’d give us weetabix spread with Golden Syrup or butter and sugar. He’d be a donkey and let us ride on his back. He’d play hide and seek with us…letting us hide in Mam’s wardrobe where we were totally banned from.

He’d always have us back in bed before Mam would get home from bingo. ‘Now, make sure you don’t tell your mother,’ he’d remind us.

One night she missed the bus and came home to find us all outside playing. He was in the doghouse for a week after that.

Sometimes he’d take us to work with him instead of school, especially if the weather was good. ‘Don’t tell your mother.’ Of course we didn’t tell!

He’d give us money for Mrs Fulton’s shop. ‘Don’t tell your mother, or she mightn’t buy sweets for yas tomorrow.’

When we’d get into trouble with Mam, he’d comfort us. If she said no, he’d say ‘Go on, but don’t tell your mother.’

We’ve always laughed and joked about his style of parenting down through the years. Mam knew rightly what he got up to behind her back. Their opposed views on child raring didn’t cause any issues. They had a high regard for each other and worked it all out between them. Their zest for a fun-filled family life made everything okay!

Having said all that, Dad had limits too. He didn’t let us away with bad manners. We had tremendous respect for him and we knew the boundaries. He didn’t demand anything from us or lecture us…we just knew not to cross the line. I think my parents had the balance right!

Comedy Concerts #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 85 #100DaysOfOldDays

We snaked off on a wee holiday so we’re a bit behind on our #100DayProject posts. I checked with the project police and they assured us that it’s not a punishable offence, so we’ll carry on where we left off!

The photos alone could tell today’s story, but I will explain. In the 80’s our concerts and comedy sketches were like no other. They were unusual, colourful, true to life, and best of all, hilarious!

If I remember rightly, the director of these shows was local man, Peter McConnell. We always called him Petesy. He was the chief organiser and wholly responsible for interviewing the extremely talented actors for all his shows. He went to great lengths to source the perfect cast for each sketch! His actors were so skilled at their job that forgetting their lines was never an issue…they just made up new lines as they went along!

The ladies in my first photo were the cast of the ‘Exercise Class’ comedy sketch. Back row; Ann Burmiston (Martin), Mary McCabe, Moira Tully, Ann McIntyre, Shirley Millar, Bertie Murtagh – the class instructor. Front row; Mary Burmiston, Veronica McEntee and Pauline Fox.

Next is a photo of ‘Snow White and the seven dwarfs’. It was difficult to find seven men with the specific qualities needed for the role of the dwarfs. But, Petesy found his men!

Back row; Martin Hannigan as Dopey, Phil Fox as Bashful, Hugh Tully as Happy, Josie Deignan as Sleepy, Micheál Bird as Sneezy. Missing from the photo; Bill Fisher as Grumpy and Jimmy Gilsenan as Doc. Front row; Me as Snow White, James McConnell as Prince Charming and Linda McCluskey (McDonald) as the fairy godmother.

I can’t remember the name of this sketch, but I do know that Phil Fox is on the toilet and Jimmy Gilsenan has his back to us. Veronica is in the bed.

The photo below is the same sketch – I think – but possibly played on a different night because there’s a different woman in the bed. (Although, maybe that was part of the story.)

Next on my list is a sketch I did a couple of times with Josey Deignan. This musical piece de resistance was called ‘A hole in the Bucket.’

We had as much fun – if not more – during rehearsals as we had on the nights of the concerts.

Behind the Stage Antics.

The concerts weren’t entirely made up of comical acts. There were musicians and singers performing, including the fantastic singer Teresa Cullivan. Teresa had a strong passionate singing voice and sang ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Sweet Sixteen’ exceptionally well.

Lucy’s drawing of two friends enjoying an evening of comedy.

Pot, Kettle #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 58 #100DaysOfOldDays

A fun post today for Charli Mills’ 99-word Story Challenge.

She calls me black; I say the same back. 

She’s older than me, jealous you see.  

Water falls piping from my curvy spout, 

she splatters and drips from her tiny pout. 

She’s boring and plain, I’m impressive and vain. 

I’ve come so far since days of old, 

I shine like silver and sometimes gold.  

I can be tall, small, skinny or fat, 

Mrs Pot; she’s not all that. 

I whistle and sing, I let off steam, 

I invite Mr Teapot to join my team. 

Teapot and kettle on proud display, 

while Mrs Pot to her dismay, stays hidden away.  

Mystic Mabel #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 56 #100DaysOfOldDays

That day in the late 70’s/early 80’s when my mam agreed to be the fortune teller at a fête in Tierworker (a small neighbouring village) was a day she’ll never forget. She wasn’t asked to be the fortune teller because of any psychic abilities she possessed. No, it was because they knew she’d do it for the fun! It was just an added attraction to the day’s activities. 

You can read in this post, about how she always enjoyed dressing up and acting the lad at the festivals. All for a good laugh! Loved to entertain.  

This gig was slightly different. Mam arrived at her caravan in good time, dressed as Mystic Mabel. Someone else had arrived early too; a woman unknown to her, keen to have her fortune told. Everyone knew everyone in the small town, but this woman was a stranger. 

Mystic Mabel went for a little walk around the field, to check out the entertainment. She still had at least an hour or so before the door of her mystical caravan was due to open to the public. 

The strange woman came to her and asked, “When will you be starting?” 

“Soon,” replied Mystic Mabel. 

The woman followed her around the field watching her. She asked several times, “When will you be starting?” 

The time came for Mystic Mabel to return to her caravan—with the stranger close behind. She was first in to have her fortune told. She was a little stressed about family matters; people had fallen out. Mystic Mabel reassured her that everything would be alright and soon everyone would make up. She was pleased with her reading and left happy. Mystic Mabel was relieved that she had hit the right notes! 

Next in the door was a local woman.  

“Hello Mystic Mabel. I’d like my fortune told,” she said.  

Mystic Mabel took her hand and looked into her palm. “You’re married.” 

“I am” 

“You’re married a long time,” Mystic Mabel said. 

 “Yea, about 40 years or more,” the woman replied. 

Mystic Mabel peered closer at the lines on the palm of the woman’s hand. 

“You’ve one child. Mm… let me see. Boy or girl? It’s a boy. You’ve a son!” 

“Yes, yes…that’s right. That’s Martin. My son Martin.” The woman wasvery pleased with the accuracy of Mystic Mabel’s insight.” She stared into her own hands, as if she too might be clairvoyant.  

Mabel spoke again, taking a risk. “You’re going to be a rich woman.” 

“Oh am I?” 

“Yes, there’s a big sum of money coming your way.” 

“Funny you should say that. I did get a lump of money. I got it from America.” 

“Oh that’s lovely for you,” Mystic Mabel smiled and continued. “You have a brother.” 

“Yes. He got some money too.”  

She left all delighted with herself and amazed at the wisdom of Mystic Mabel. She stood outside the caravan telling the others how great this fortune teller was. “She’s great…told me things that nobody but me knows about. And she’s real too. She has one of those diamonds stuck to her forehead.” 

Next visitor to the caravan was a young lad. Not a stranger this time! 

“Hello,’ Mystic Mabel greeted him.  

“Hello. I want you to tell me my fortune.” 

“You’re very sad looking,” she said. 

“Aw…I fell out with my girlfriend.” 

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll soon find another one,” Mabel said as she examined his palm. 

“Do you think so?” he replied. 

“I’m sure of it. I can see a young lady here and she has long black hair. She’s a lovely girl and you’ll meet her soon. There’ll not be a bother on you then.” 

His eyes lit up the whole caravan. “Oh God that’s great.” Just as he was leaving, he turned back to Mystic Mabel and asked, “What colour did you say her hair was?” 


Lads from the tug-o-war team came in and they gave Mystic Mabel a run for her money with all sorts of questions; all to do with women and money. It was a bit of fun for them though! 

She really didn’t expect anyone to take it seriously!  

Mystic Mabel hung up her costume that day and never told fortunes again! 

🔮 🔮 🔮 🔮

Lucy’s crystal ball.

The Babby House #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 55 #100DaysOfOldDays

Did you have a babby house when you were a child? Do you know what I mean when I say babby house? It’s what we called our outdoor playhouse. The boys played in a fort and the girls played in a babby house. (Is this only in Ireland?) Occasionally the girls were allowed into the fort and very occasionally the boys were allowed into the babby house—and only certain boys at that! 

Here’s the babby house I remember.  

It’s built from planks of woods around the bottom of a big chestnut tree in the corner of a field. The roof is a sheet of rusty galvanise. There is one window, made from a panel of tough transparent plastic. The door is a sturdy rectangular flap, also made from hard plastic, hardly big enough for an adult to pass through.  

There is a little shuck between the field and the big chestnut tree. A plank of wood forms a bridge for access to the babby house. 

The hollows in the tree are shelves, to store old food tins and jars filled with shiny red and green haws. A broken clock hangs on the stub of a branch, and two rusty enamel mugs sit on their stove which is made of four red bricks stacked into a square. 

The babby house is well-equipped with chipped plates, warped saucepans with no handles, bent spoons, and empty bottles. 

Moldy dolls sleep on a layer of withered rushes that line the bottom of a wooden crate. Dinner is cooked in one of the bent saucepans; cabbage, peas, and potatoes (dandelion leaves, green haws, all sprinkled with white clover petals). Stones are used for potatoes and eggs. 

Spiders dangling from cobwebs and creepy crawlies inhabit the babby house and get brushed out regularly only to return in the middle of the night. It’s cold in the wintertime and smells of damp soil. It’s balmy in the summertime and smells of fresh moss and chestnuts.  

The babby house was our foxhole, a place for self-expression, a place to unleash our imaginations.

Tell me, did you play in a babby house? If you had, what was it called? 

Whatever Your Swing Was Made From #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 51 #100DaysOfOldDays

I usually write about something from the old days and ask Lucy to draw a picture related to what I write. Today, Lucy drew the picture first and then asked me to write about it – keeping to our theme of ‘old days’.

Here goes!

Did you have a homemade swing?

Was the seat of it an old tyre? Was it a car tyre, or a big tractor tyre that half your family could sit on at the same time? Did it leave black marks on your behind?

Or was your swing seat a thick block of wood with black holes in it because they were made by a red hot poker? Was the rope blue or red—the same kind of rope that was used to make the washing line? Did you ever get your hair twisted in the rope from spinning instead of swinging?

Did your swing hang from the branch of a tree in the garden, or in the field beside your house – the field that belonged to your granny? Or did it hang from a wooden frame built by your dad and your uncle? Was the wooden frame painted?

Did it swing so high that you could see across the fence next door, or across two of granny’s fields? Did the rope creak when you swung fast, and get louder the higher you went?

How often did you fall off your swing, and did it stop you from getting back on?

When a child in school boasted about the new swing that they got from the toy shop in Dublin, did you think it was better than yours because it had a metal frame and a plastic seat?

Maybe you didn’t have a swing of your own, but you played on your friend’s swing.

Maybe you were the child who got the metal framed swing from the toy shop – the one with the plastic seat!

No matter where you did your swinging and no matter what it was made from, I bet it was the best swing ever!

Dear Ex…#100DaysOfOldDays

Day 46 #100DaysOfOldDays

Today’s post is also for Charli Mills’ #99WordStories on Carrot Ranch

Dear Sweet Ex,

It’s been 22 years since we broke up and I think about you every day. I live in hope that someone, somewhere in Cavan will bring you back.

I’ll always remember the night Gloria and Tricia got us together. It was love at first sight. Together we were dynamite! We were like Black Magic melting in a dark pool of crema topped Nespresso.

Since your disappearance, I’ve been raw. All I have now are my memories and memes on Facebook.

Cavan Cola, you were the best thing that ever happened to me!

Forever yours

Tia Maria.

Cavan Cola; 1958 – 2001

Blackberry Picking #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 37 #100DaysOfOldDays

There wasn’t a child in the country who didn’t go out blackberry picking in the 70’s and into the 80’s. And of course long before that too.

We’d go in small groups, walk for miles in our wellies to find the best blackberry bushes. Our buckets sat nearby, and we used a can or a jar to collect the berries; the red and green ones went in as well the dark purple juicy ones. When our can was full we’d tip it into the bucket. Scratches on our hands didn’t bother us, neither did damp feet when our wellies had holes in them.

On a Saturday we stayed out until our buckets were full. We went for as many days until the blackberry bushes were bare.

We did it for the fun, but mostly it was for the money. We’d take our berries back into town and bring them into Peter Murtagh’s yard. He weighed them and paid us. It was very little but a fortune to us. If it had been a good day’s picking we went straight to Francey McDonald’s for sweets but didn’t spend all our money. We had to have something to show our parents for our long day’s work!

The more berries we had in our buckets, the more money we got—which is why we didn’t eat very many. A certain lad or lassie would add a few stones into their buckets to increase the weight. Not me!

Two Weeks in Bettystown #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 35 #100DaysOfOldDays

For quite a few years in a row, we went to Bettystown (Co Meath) for two weeks on our summer holidays; the last week in August and the first week in September. We were always a week late going back to school. It was about an hour’s drive from our home but it felt like a hundred miles away.

There were five of us, and the dog, all packed into a small car—we owned minis too—four in the back and the youngest in the front on Mam’s knee. Completely acceptable in the 60’s & 70’s.

On the roof of our little car we had a roof rack, and tied to the roof rack was a big trunk packed to the brim with all our stuff. I swear, that big trunk was like Mary Poppins’ bag. It held all our clothes (seven people), buckets and spades, rubber rings, balls, shoes, food, tennis rackets, and wellies & raincoats — because we live in Ireland.

The little thatched holiday house we used to stay in didn’t supply bed linen. Mam had all our sheets and blankets folded neatly on the back seat. We had to sit on them; our heads touching the roof of the car.

We didn’t have seatbelts, or air conditioning. When we got thirsty, my dad didn’t stop at the next petrol station to buy us all a coke. No such thing! Mam would take out the big bottle of Mace red lemonade. And a straw.

Thinking back now…I think she was a contortionist. She was able to reach each of us in the back from the front seat, the child on her knee (or maybe he had slithered to the floor, I can’t remember) with the bottle of lemonade in her hand, a finger and thumb holding the straw. She’d put it into the first child’s mouth. We had to be really quick and suck fast on the straw to get as much in as possible because after about three seconds, Mam would squeeze it and move on to the next child.

There was no point in whinging for more because she’d say, ‘Swallow your spit if you’re still thirsty.’ But she was great!

For weeks before the holiday, Mam would’ve been saving up some non-perishable foods like; tins of Ambrosia rice, jelly, biscuits, soup, cereals, beans, diluting orange. She was a planner and always organised.

Our beach picnics are stamped in my memory and there to stay. We had sandwiches—usually egg and onion—creamed rice, melon, Kimberley biscuits, and wee bowls of jelly. And as much diluted orange as we needed. We never had to swallow our spit at the beach!

Dad spent hours in the sea with us, and building sandcastles. He was very competitive with the sandcastles. They had to be the biggest and the best. And they were!

Some days we’d drive as far as Laytown just to see the trains. That was exciting for us. Laytown also had a little playground, which we loved. A trip to Laytown was a very enjoyable day out. Sometimes we were lucky enough to get ice-cream too.

Laytown was great for shells. This is where Mam gathered most of the shells she used for decorating her lamps and other things in the house. You can read about that HERE.

Those holidays were fantastic. We were so lucky!

“No Craic Like That Anymore” #100DaysOfOldDays

Day 33 #100DaysOfOldDays

The first St Patrick’s Day parade didn’t take place in Ireland as you’d imagine. The first ever parade was held in a Spanish colony in Florida in 1601 organised by the colony’s Irish Vicar, Ricardo Artur.

In 1737 Irish soldiers serving in the English army, who yearned for home, marched in Boston on St Patrick’s day and again in New York City in 1762. And so it began.

Some parades are flamboyant and impressive, where people go to extremes to put on an entertaining show for their spectators, especially in big towns and cities.

That doesn’t mean the small towns don’t put on good parades. I have fond memories of the parades from years ago.

I remember the parade in Kingscourt (our neighbouring town) in 1978, and the memory is not a fond one. I was playing the tin whistle in the Bailieborough Marching Youth Band. It was snowing and freezing! Our skirts were just above the knee and we wore knee high socks. Coats were not part of our uniform, but on that particular day we did wear coats—otherwise we’d have frozen to death.

My fingers were numb against the cold steel of the tin whistle. The parade hadn’t even started. We were lining up and practicing at that stage. My piano accordion was in the car and my dad gave it to me thinking it might be easier to play with blue fingers than the whistle. It was a little easier, but not much. That was the worst skinning I ever got.

The parades were always great fun, even in our small little towns. Everyone made a huge effort to get out and enjoy themselves. What was different then?

The big thing that’s missing from our parades are the marching bands. They were the essence of the parades. There are very few marching bands left in Ireland. A terrible shame.

Another thing that was very popular in parades was the fancy dress. Not completely gone, but not as many people take part these days. My mother and a couple of her friends were experts at dressing up for the parades. Not just on St Patrick’s Day, but for the festivals too.

As a young teenager, I used to be sooooo embarrassed! But as I matured a bit, I saw the fun in it. I’ve been known to take part in fancy dress myself on occasion.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Thanks to local photographer, Kevin Gorman, for this photo of my mam and her late friend, Shirley.

My mam sent me these photos. She said, “There’s no craic like that any more!”

In this next photo, they were dressed up for the pram race which used to happen every year at the festival!

Yes, those were the days!

Lucy didn’t draw a picture today, instead she made this mask to represent fancy dress.