Interview with Pat ‘Hora, Kilbannon, Tuam, Co. Galway
1st December 2017
CD: So, a lot of what you had beyond the tea, you really had yourselves…
POH: Yes, we had a fair bit of fruit as well, we had an orchard, that time back in the 1905s someone realised from a public health point of view that Vitamin C was important and the County Council at the time, Galway County Counil, gave out a parcel of trees to each small holder
CD: Oh right, I never realised that
POH: And some of the orchards still exist. I have one or two trees from that package.
POH: A hundred years later! But, the variety of apples they distributed at that time weren’t like the modern kind of shop apples that come from France; they were apples that you could pit just like your potatoes.
CD: Right, ok
POH: And you put your apples…my grandfather used to pit his apples in November and then come February or March, you open the pit and whatever changes had occurred in the pit, the apple was much sweeter than when it went in!
CD: Oh, very nice
POH: It was probably a particular variety of apple as well. I’ve looked for those variety of apples, what they call the “good keepers”, but they’re very hard to get now, because no one uses them anymore.
CD: Very rare
POH: Yeah, well they become almost extinct, you get them in places like Bloomingdale and you get them in places like, he have one, we have an orchard in Johnstown …
CD: Specialist, I suppose
POH: And Seed Savers do a bit of these older varieties as well. But that was a big, important thing. You’d go to the pit…you’d open the pit in February and the apples cakes would start again and they’d last you ‘til maybe August when the first “sweet eaters” would come in; Beauty of Bath, they were part of the parcel of trees the Council distributed. Beauty of Bath was a lovely sweet apple. Red streaked, but you have to be very careful because as it ripens the wasps descend on it in great numbers!
CD: Right. They love the smell and they love the taste, I suppose
POH: And they actually eat the apple on the tree, you have…
CD: You have to be quick off the mark!
POH: I remember when we were kids, one or two of us got stuck eating apples because they ate…bite into a wasp, unconsciously, now…
CD: And he was there waiting for you!
POH: And then the apples, some of the late varieties would hang on the leaves until November/ late November. They were big…they were usually the varieties that were pitted, you know?
CD: So, you had your apples for the apple tart and apple crumble?
POH: Yes, and you literally have year-round apples because the late varieties would last until November maybe October/November and you could hold a couple of them.