"My dear late mother spent many of her childhood years in the town of Clonmel, which is the largest town in the county of Tipperary. She told me many tales of her childhood. There was the daily six mile return walk to fetch the milk before going to school as she was the eldest of seven children. If she was late back home, her mother would hit her with a brush. Then if she arrived at school later than roll call, the strict nuns would cane her with a partly curved twig that made a swishing sound as it cut into the palm of her hand. It used to be said by the other pupils that the canes which the nuns used were only considered to be broken in after they had broken the spirits of at least six pupils!
Being the eldest in our family of seven children, I was always best placed in the family hierarchy to hear mum's tales, which I would then retell to my sister Mary, the second eldest. It was her responsibility to pass it down the line and so forth, so if any sibling never heard any of mum's stories, someone obviously broke the chain of family communication and it is they who remain subject to blame!
From all the tales my mother used to tell me, not all were about hard times. I remember the one about the priest's walking stick which would be left outside a parishioner's house whenever the parish priest visited their home. The waking stick was seemingly a signal for anyone else in the village not to disturb the priest in his churchly duties by visiting their neighbour if they saw his walking stick propped up by the wall outside the front door! My mother also told me that there was one particular priest who should never have joined the priesthood as chastity was never a virtue with him. He was said only to visit widows and good looking female parishioners during early afternoon hours when the man of the house would be at his work and he never called on ugly ones!
Her sweetest tales however, was obviously her unvarnished ones. She told me that Clonmel derives from the Irish Cluain Meala which means 'Honey Vale' and if anyone should ever doubt that, all they need do was to look at the season of Autumn in Clonmel which endorsed its Irish name.
For anyone who is interested in Irish folklore, the section on my website entitled, 'Tales from Portlaw' include the germ of some of my mother's stories about her homeland (freely accessably), which I have used my writing skills and imagination to elaborate. The stories can also be bought in e-book format from www.smashwords.com or in hard copy from amazon and www.lulu.com with all profit going to charity." William Forde: October 27th, 2015.