Interview with Pat ‘Hora, Kilbannon, Tuam, Co. Galway
1st December 2017
CD: So, for meal times then, your potatoes and other veg, they’d all be home grown?
POH: Salads, cabbage was common, poultry…
CD: And was there a particular variety of potato that as popular?
POH: What they used to …in Kilbannon…potatoes were always very problematic because you had the famine. What I didn’t realise was until recently, until about 1900 there was no way of stopping blight. So, what they had to do was change the variety of potatoes. If you asked my grandfather, “Richard, what age are you?” he’d say, “I was born in 1880 the year of the Champion pratie!” Apparently they introduced this Champion pratie, which was more blight resistant. Now, I’ve grown Champions because they still exist, you can get them in Seed Savers and places like this, and they are a lovely potato but they’re extinct now because they have recessed eyes.
POH: The eyes are… and people don’t like digging, you know, they have to go into the whole of the potato and dig out the eye. But, the old people used to talk about White Flowers, some people call them White Flowers, they were Epicure
CD: Yes, I’ve heard of those
POH: They were a new potato, you’d dig them in June and you’d have them for two or three weeks. They were good croppers. I tried to grow them but I found the slugs were very fond of them. And you get volume and all the rest of it, but after … you’d have them for about a month and then the tradition was on Reek Sunday, the day they all climb Croagh Patrick usually the last Sunday in July
CD: July, yeah
POH: …That they go for the first bucket of main crop potatoes.
CD: Oh, tight, ok
POH: So you’d have the Epicures
CD: They would keep you going until the main crop…
POH: Then the hens and the pigs got them