Interview with Pat ‘Hora, Kilbannon, Tuam, Co. Galway
1st December 2017
Food growing up in Kilbannon – especially tea
CD This is Clare Doyle and I’m here with Pat O’Hora from Kilbannon and it is the 1st December 2017.
Pat can you tell me about your time growing up in Kilbannon and the type of food you would have eaten as a child?
POH: Well, it was fairly routine and a lot of it was home grown. You’d have your own potatoes, your own poultry products, not too much meat; bacon would be the main imported meat, kind of thing. My grandfather had a penchant –I was raised by my grandfather and grandmother, my parents lived there as well, we came to rural Kilcreevanty when I was five from urban Limerick – the eh, back to the theme of food, it was mostly…there was tea of course, tea which we usually bought of course from the travelling shop. It came on every Thursday and I remember the theme or topic amongst the women in my life – because you’d be in the house all day and lots of people came and talked because the grandfather worked in the house as well – was what was the tea like this week? There’d be Hession’s tea and Mannion’s tea, Christy Mannion from Barnaderg used to have a travelling shop as well.
CD: Could the tea taste different from week to week then?
POH: Oh, absolutely! Yeah, because they got…the way the tea was distributed that tea each retailer got a big tea chest of tea of his own description or…to his own specification and then some people mixed it. And you’d hear people say “Oh I got a tea from Hessions ah it was terrible altogether” and the other would be “McDonaghs have great tea”, this kind of thing…
CD: So, even if the tea wasn’t great one week you could still get a nice load of tea the following week from the same man?
POH: The kind of network was “who has the best tea?” Because I’ll go there.
CD: It was good marketing, word of mouth.
POH: Yes, yes. So, that was the item of diet that generated most conversation or networking. And then of course, the other thing about the tea, I had a reputation for a short while as a good reader of tea leaves. The tea leaves…the way that the old tea leaves which remained in the bottom of the cup were configured, could be looked at by some wise or seeing person and the future foretold from it, you know? And I once made the mistake of telling my grandmother that she was getting a letter from England and a parcel from America and both things happened! I was corralled for weeks after by women visiting from all over! “Read the cup there now a good mhaceen”.