The pig was usually killed once a year, near or at Christmas. The pig would be fattened for some time before with husked oats as this was said to be good for “hardening the bacon”. Michael Kavanagh, Ardnagrove, Kinvara is considered the best’ and most lucky pig-killer in this district, and because his good reputation as a pig-killer he is always hired by the people in the vicinity to accomplish the task’. He arrives at an appointed date and orders pots of boiling water so that the pig can be cleaned afterwards. A barrel is also needed to salt the bacon and before the killing of the animal the fronts and back legs are tied together with a rope. Another man is then needed to hold the pig’s head and tail so that he can stab her through the neck with the long knife he brings with him. To be good at this it is believed that the butcher must be able to stab the heart from an entry at the neck. The flowing blood is also collected to make puddings.
The dead pig is laid on a flat surface like a table and hot water poured onto it. The butcher uses his sharp knife to scrape off all the hairs until the pig is white. The pig is then hung in the rafters with a vessel underneath to catch the insides that will be taken out. Once this is done, the pig is cleaned again but this time with cold water. The pig is then cut into 6 or 8 parts, depending on the size of the animal.
Salting takes place the following evening when a clean bag is placed on the floor and the parts laid on it and rubbed with coarse salt. ‘Pockets’ are also made in the meat and the salt lodged in them. The meat is then placed in a barrel for a length of time.
Killinny East, Co.Galway
Collector: Micheál Ó Fathaigh, Newtown, Co. Galway
Duchas, ‘The Schools’ Collection’, www.duchas.ie