THE third and fourth class boys of St Patrick’s Boys NS in Skibbereen had a very special visitor recently.
The students were enthralled when Brendan McCarthy (80) visited them as part of their Green Schools plastics project, and spoke to them about growing up in Union Hall village in the fifties.
At the time, he told them, there were 12 shops, one phone and one car. People would bring a homemade carrier bag to the shop where they would buy loose tea, sugar and biscuits.
Milk would be bought from local farmers. Salted ling and bacon were the main meats at the time.
Boiled hard sweets were sold from ‘gallon jars’ or tins, and toffee from a slab. Vegetables were grown in every garden and nothing was wrapped in plastic – because plastic did not exist.
Brendan, who worked with Aer Lingus, and later owned a pub in Skibbereen, spoke of the fun they had as they sang, played music and danced in each other’s houses at the ‘Scoraíocht’.
‘He appealed to the children, and teachers, not to lose the art of conversation by spending too much time on mobile phones,’ said teacher Anne Crowley, adding: ‘He was delighted that the plastics factory did not go ahead in our beautiful community of West Cork, believing it would have been hugely detrimental to areas such as Lough Ine and Baltimore.’
Brendan also spoke, sadly, of the drop in the bee population because of the use of chemicals in farming and gardening.
‘We hope to continue our learning by inviting our grannies and grandads to talk to us and tell us stories of their youth,’ added Ms Crowley.