Interview with Pat ‘Hora, Kilbannon, Tuam, Co. Galway
1st December 2017
CD: And I suppose in terms of today what would be called foraging, which is always a kind of very posh term I think, for people who like our own ancestors, who would have gone out to pick the mushrooms or gather the nuts and things like that. Was that a common thing?
POH: We foraged…let me think about this now…
CD: …and berries as well
POH: We went for black currents…black…black berries in the autumn, sometimes you’d even get them for sale. I see Seamus Heaney writing about that, collecting the blackberries. You can’t keep them too long, you know?
POH: We would have gone for mushrooms in late July/early August into old sheep…what they called old sheep passes, they were a few mushroom fields around us in the parish but you had to be there very early in the morning or late in the evening, because they’d be cleaned otherwise!
CD: And would they be very maggoty?
POH: No, no, no. If they were old, if they were old, I mean the Irish for mushroom is fás aon oíche which means, one night’s growth.
CD: If you got them quick enough
POH: If you got to them early morning like, you know?
POH: Now, all the mushrooms fields near me have been ploughed up and re-seeded and you just don’t have…
CD: They’re gone
POH: You don’t have the flushes of mushrooms. The other thing we used to go for, but this was a kid thing then, was hazelnuts. There was a number of plantations of hazelnuts, they’re still all around the place. We used to go for them in September. What was the rhyme? “Fresh October brings the pheasant, then to gather nuts is pleasant”. There wasn’t…that was kind of a kid thing, adults wouldn’t have been going picking nuts like.
CD: It kept you occupied for a while
POH: We had a few hazel plantations, we used to go along the eskers, you know the old sand hills around us that hadn’t much agricultural value
POH: And we’d go there and you’d have Mulry’s hazels and Mannion-Taylor hazels, you know, you had the… and landowners didn’t mind you picking and you’d come home and you’d sit down and eat the whole lot of them!