Glorious hungry times of the 1940Ős

By Brendan Murray

Ah! Those were daysWith money to be madeIn lots of various ways An AdventureWe set off down the Kingscourt road, past the school, past Doctor Burke’s, Rosie Walker’s, and Felix Connolly’s lane. At Leavy’s well we stopped and turned left down Leavy’s Lane and walked quickly on until we reached the low stone wall on the right. We crossed over it and walked silently along the grassy patch between the dense whin bushes. We were now at the foot of the mountainy region of Lex Rocks and the ground was rising sharply. I ran ahead, full of excitement to look at the first one and when I reached the spot I looked down at the small grassy patch between the whins where we had set it; we had failed. He saw the disappointment in my face as he reached me. “No luck,” he said and looking down added, “it hasn’t been touched, might be an old run; and turning and walking quickly on, he said “ah well! Let’s look at the next one; we’ll take that one up on the way back”. Disheartened, I followed a step or two behind him; we crossed the next dry stone wall and hurried up the long grassy area between the whins. He turned and smiled “You might be lucky with the second one,” he said encouragingly. I caught up with him and we reached the spot together. “You’re successful this time,” he said as he stood gazing down. I looked down, my eyes searching the ground and in my excitement all I could see was the stiff white frozen grass; and then I saw it, camouflaged white with frost on the frozen ground, a snared rabbit, stretched full length, cold stone stiff dead, the snare wire stretched tight around its neck. My father stood there, hands in the pockets of his big dark uniform overcoat; he watched me hunker down and with cold numb fingers loosen the snare from around the rabbit’s neck as I chattered excitingly saying- “You were right, you were right; you said ‘twas a good place to set it, a second jump on a long run”. I held up the stiff dead rabbit. “It’s a big one” he said “it was running fast when it was snared; neck broken; killed instantly; didn’t know what hit it.” I looked proudly at the dead rabbit I was holding by the hind legs, imagining I was Buffalo Bill having shot my first buffalo, “I’ll get two shillings and three pence for it in Burns’s,” I said.“You’ll have to gut it first; I’ll show you how to do it.”“Okay, thanks! I know how to snare rabbits now; some people are very good at it; rabbits are getting scarcer; soon there will be none left.”More than half a century later, I recall those glorious achievements in the cold hungry war days of the 1940’s.

What the Celt said: Newspaper reports and advertisements of the period amplify the scarcity of basic commodities and the demand that existed for rabbits, pigeons and wildfowl both for the home market and for export; the following are some examples from the Anglo Celt of the mid 1940’s.

Anglo Celt-March, 1945“A young lad caught 22 rabbits in one week with the aid of a dog.”

Anglo Celt-March 1946. ---Bawnboy and Templeport News.-War on Pigeons“A farmer, who on observing a flock of pigeons in his cabbage plants, crept near hand and emptied both barrels of his shotgun into the bunch, accounting for half a dozen which sell at 4s 6d each.” Anglo Celt 20th Jan 1945.“Highest prices paid for all kinds of game, rabbits and poultry, rabbit skins, also horse hair. Prompt settlements. Price list on request.—S. Ferbenbloom & Company, 16 Back Lane, Cornmarket , Dublin. Tel. 52586” .October, 1945. Supplies by Passenger train or bus to theProduce Packing Co., Dublin- 4Island Street, Dublin.Rabbits and Poultry Wanted, all kinds of game. Anglo Celt-April 1948 ---------Apples Wanted.Windfalls, crabs etc, plumbs, Damsons, and Pears in season. Also eggs 2/8 per dozen and Butter.P. J McCaffrey & Sons 4th August, 1945.Rhubarb WantedAlsoApples, Blackberries. Unlimited Quantites, Apples, Crabapples, Windfalls, Plumbs, Damsons and Blackberries. Highest prices paid, Delivered to stores. McCormick Brothers, Exporters.

5TH May 1945.Rhubarb Wanted, Any Quantity, Buying every day, highest prices. F. Mc Entee, Shercock.9th March, 1946Market eggs 2s3d, butter2s2d, potatoes1s2s a stone, ducks10d, rabbits2s, and woodquests2s6d

20th Jan.1945.Advertisement by Dept. of Agriculture encouraging farmers to sow as much winter wheat as soon as possible.Market guaranteed. 700,000 acres needed; must be sown before the end of the sowing season. From now on no suitable day can be lost.

27th January, 1945--- Maximum Retail Prices. Department of SuppliesMaximum Retail Prices fixed for Certain CommoditiesFlour:Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.Less than 1 cwt------3/8 per stone; 1cwt or over28/4= per cwtElsewhere: Less than 1 cwt----3/10 per stone; 1cwt or over31/= per cwt.Wheatenmeal:Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford.Less than 1cwt-----3/6 per stone; 1cwt or over27/= per stone.Elsewhere: Less than 1 cwt-------3/10 per stone; 1cwt or over29/8==per stone. Batch Bread:At baker’s shop1/= per lb: Otherwise 1/1 per lb. 14th April 1945Protect your crops from crows, rooks, and all other vermin with Cropest—prices 3/= 4/6, 5/=, Fassett and Johnson, Crew Street, Dundalk.

Apprenticeships and Salaries:A young person contemplating an apprenticeship had to pay a fee to her employer; in the following advertisement in the Anglo Celt, the fee could be worked off by assisting in “light” housework.—

* 1945, 16th February.An apprentice wanted to Dressmaker, indoor, town of Cavan, can assist at light housework instead of fee. Box No—

* Nursing Salaries were not great for permanent nurses; but in 1945 it was great to have a permanent job in the auld sod-The following notice appeared in the Anglo Celt of 17th April, 1945. -- Leitrim Nurse Salaries The County Manager has accepted subject Minister’s sanction the following Salary Scale for permanent nurses— £75 increasing by annual increments of £5 to £90. -3 years on £90; increase of £5 to £95- 4 years on £95; then £5 extra.

Pest Control:Anglo Celt, April 5, 1947The following Advertisement for Dynamite Rat Paste was surely appreciated by rats - it purports to help the nation and, (and the manufacturers) and was harmless to children, fowl and domestic animals; great Stuff entirely! The rats must have enjoyed it and in their own interest may have become domesticated animals!

The Food which RatsConsumeCan be Saved for the Nation byUsing---Dynamite Rat PasteHarmless to Children, Fowl and Domestic Animals.Prices: 8d & 1/4- Boxes – ManufacturesDundalk Chemicals Ltd.

Anglo Celt 6th January, 1946.Great Husbandry.There was great husbandry in the 1940’s, little waste, items recycled several times from clothes to tea leaves; stewed tea was grand then.The following notice for waste paper appeared in the Anglo Celt on 6th January, 1946.-“The Irish Paper Mills are still in urgent need of Waste Paper even more so than during the war. Save every scrap of waste paper and turn it into cash. You will all be helping the home mills to keep in production. Every stone of waste paper sent to the Irish Mills enables the Country to import a stone of foreign paper essential to the printing industry. Highest prices paid by the Anglo Celt, Agents for Press Supplies Ltd, Waste Paper Merchants, Vianore Street, Dublin.”

Parody on “Song of Praise” A Parody of a popular song of those Days, Bless Them All, raised the spirits of young and old by “blessing” our leaders for the meagre weekly ration of tea and the non production of white bread. The first verse was as follows:--

Bless Them AllBless them all, bless them all, bless them all,Bless all the good men in the DailBless DeValera and Sean Mc EnteeFor giving us brown bread and a half ounce of teaAnd we’re saying goodbye to them all As back to the village we fallYou’ll get no promotionThis side of the oceanSo cheer up me lads; bless them all.