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Monday 22 January 2018

Rabbit-catcher and milkmaid recall days gone by

John Spain Books Editor

JEDWARD are not the only ones with an interesting hairstyle.

Meet 81-year-old Joseph Hanrahan from Kilsheelan, Co Tipperary, who has been sporting an upswept hairstyle for years. Mr Hanrahan, a retired farm labourer, is one of the people featured in a new book, 'Vanishing Ireland: Recollections of our Changing Times'.

The book chronicles the lives of ordinary men and women across the country.

It concentrates on older people who did jobs in times past that have been largely forgotten in today's Ireland.

Blacksmiths, saddlers, harness makers, coal miners, mattress makers, bonesetters and cattle drivers, are some of the people featured in the latest Vanishing Ireland book, the third in the series.

Mr Hanrahan was a farm labourer who also worked as a pony and trap driver.

Mr Hanrahan worked for the Kilsheelan postmistress who had a sideline in exporting rabbits.

He drove her in her pony and trap all around the countryside collecting rabbits from farmers who had snared them.

When they had collected a few hundred rabbits they were shipped to the UK. "They lived on rabbits in England during the war", he said.

There is also dairymaid and cook Liza Mulvihill from Movane, Co Kerry, who is 96. Liza started milking at five in the morning on the Kerry farms where she worked seven days a week. Later she spent time in New York.

She is not too impressed with what went on here during the Celtic Tiger years. "Much wants more", she said.

So does she prefer the old days to Ireland today? "I'd go back to the olden times. You had no cares. You were quite pleased with what you had and that was it!"

'Vanishing Ireland: Recollections of our Changing Times' is published today by Hachette Ireland at £27.99.

Irish Independent

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