Miriam Arthurs Remembers

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  • Life in Fingal in the Past

A Farming Life

Miriam Arthurs was born in 1923 into a farming family in Swords. In the following extract from the booklet Swords Voices, vol. 1, part 1, Miriam describes what life was like on the farm on which she grew up in the first half of the twentieth century.

"As I was the oldest of nine children, I was kept at home to work in the house and on the farm. That was the custom in those days. It was a task you accepted willingly.

The difference between today and yesteryear as I might call it, was that we had no electricity or running water in the house. We had oil or Tilley lamps. The Tilley lamps gave the brightest light, they had little mantles on them which were very delicate, and you had to be very careful when you were lighting them. We carried the water from a pump which we had in the yard. The water from the spring was so pure and cold that people used to come from Swords for some of it. It was in 1949 we got electricity and we got water into the house in 1950. It was a hard life but we were a very happy family."

Working with Horses

Before tractors became common, farmers depended on horses to do much of the heavy work like ploughing. Here, Miriam remembers how horses were a vital element of farm work before the use of tractors became commonplace. She then goes on to relate the arrival of tractors and other types of farming machinery on her family farm.

"My father always had some men working on the farm, at the busy time of year. I would work out on the farm with the men ... we had horses to plough, sow and reap with. I often ploughed with the horses, you would talk to them ... they always knew what to do by the way you spoke to them. 'Whoah' was to stop. 'Whoah there' was to steady up, and 'yip' was to go on. You know horses are very clever in their own way. I got on great with them.

I think the first tractor came to our farm in 1947 or '48 as a matter of fact. I think it was the year I got married. In the summer the hay would be cut with a mowing machine. My father always did that. It would be turned a few days later with a swath turner, then it would be racked up with a big rake."