Interview with Pat ‘Hora, Kilbannon, Tuam, Co. Galway
1st December 2017
We used to have ah, a particular part of the lamb…when we were kids, we’d be called on when the…there was a man that used to come round and he used to cut the tails off the young lambs. No aesthetic no nothing, they don’t do it like that anymore, the separate them now with some kind of a rubber band that causes the tail to fall off
CD: It just falls off itself yeah
POH: But this man, I can name him because there is no one belonging to him left, Mick Dowling, Mike would come and they’d flock the sheep and they’d cut the tails off them and the tails would be left in little bundles. And then they were kiddy food as well. But everyone liked them. You’d take them home and you’d cut the wool off them.
CD: You’d need something, a sharp knife for that, the little woolly tails
POH: I used to get into very short order with my grandfather, who was a tailor and he had the scissors that was a foot or nine inches long
CD: That was just the job so
POH: But he did not want me cutting the wool off lamb’s tails because it blunted his scissors
POH: So sometimes when he wasn’t there you get your lamb’s tails done in two shakes of a lamb’s tail! The other scissors then… but when they were as hairless as you could get them with these basic tools, you got them into the fire side, the open fire and you got the coals out of the hob and you broke the coals with the tongs and you sat this little pink stringy thing on top of the coals until it turned a bit brown and you picked it off and I can still remember. It didn’t taste like mutton, it was the sweetest stuff you ever…you can imagine. I can still taste them! And as I said, it was…it was very sweet and you just ate them down to the bone.
POH: And we got into trouble as well because the younger kids used to snap them, there’d be a bit of live coal on them and they wouldn’t see them and they’d burn their mouths and that kind of thing. I can’t remember adults eating them, but I can remember for years …it was almost a reward for the flocking of the sheep into the corner.