Jeremiah Wholey, Bringing the Iron Wheeled Threshing Machine from The Mealagh Valley, West Cork from the 12th October to West Waterford in the 1940s and others in the area, 1910 Threshing Photographs, Coomkeen, Durrus, Jack Attridge’s home built Threshing Machine.
In the era of horses on farms there was an ongoing demand for oats so many farmers grew oats. After harvesting they were piled in a stack awaiting threshing which from the late 19th century was do by a steam threshing machine. This continued to the 1960s, in the Durrus area there was a threshing on the Shannon farm in Rossmore in 1965 and thereafter the use of the threshing machine petered out. By the mid 1960 the combine harvester had arrived in the area with the O’Donovan brothers from Kealties followed by Phil Shanahan.
The Wholey brothers from the Mealagh Valley threshed in the Bantry area and traditionally the last was carried on around the 11th October on the farm of Barnaby Deane, . That had been a Vickery farm since 1785 and is now owned by the O’Sullivan family. Barnaby had a particular requirement to mix light and heavy hay with the straw which involved a day long process. On occasion he was helped by the Reverend Doherty who was also adept as the use of the scythe in cutting corn while his wife Mrs. Doherty helped the women to cater in the kitchen. Oats was the crop generally threshed sometime barley or wheat. If wheat was used it involved a thorough cleaning of the machine to remove all traces of oats.
When Jeremiah Wholey was finished he would proceed with a three man crew to West Waterford. Progress with the steam engine was slow, the machine travelled through the night. The two crew members not driving would sleep in hammocks on the travelling machine. He was thorough on one occasion one of the crew had to cycle and back to Cork to get a machine part.
There was a long tradition of spailpíns going seasonally from the poor congested area of West Cork to West Waterford from the later 18th century.
In West Waterford an area of large farms the harvest was kept in large sheds out of the weather. Despite the use of reeks in the Bantry area the corn could deteriorate over a few weeks. On some farms the threshing could take week. This continued until almost Christmas.
Another of the Wholeys also had a machine which went to Waterford as did the Kearney family and Peter (Pete) O’Neill from Ballycomane. Pete was helped by among others Eugene Crowley, Ahagouna, Sonny Hosford, Kealties adn members of the Ballycommane Kelly family. Later in life he was a shopkeeper in Goleen adn ran a taxi he died in 1983 adn is buried in Moulivard.
McCartys of the White House in Kilcrohane did the western end of the Muintervara Peninsula..In the Scart area the McCarthy Sowneys had machines.
The Crowleys in Colomane, Parish of Caheragh, also threshed around their home area and then went to Waterford also until near Christmas. Their father was Jim ( Jim Peg) and mother was Margaret Mc Carthy. Names: Mary (Geaney), John, Joe, Jimmy, Madgie, Denis. They are all dead now.
They did threshing all around there and then went to Waterford, in the ’40s.
John Crowley still working at it around the Scart area in the 50s and into the 60s.
Threshing contractors included:
Michael McCarthy (White House), Kilcrohane.
Donal McCarthy (Sowney), Scart Bawn.
Jerome & Paddy Sweeney, Beach.
Jerome Whooley, Mealagh Valley.
Pete O’Neill, Ballycomane
Recollections of Peter O’Driscoll, San Francisco, of Aughaville in the 1950s:
My interest in the Threshing photos are when I was young I remember a George Ahern a farmer in the townland of Mullaghmore often visiting (Scoraiocting) at our home with others and my father Jeremiah O’Driscoll. This George Ahern often spoke of his sister who was married to a Dukelow west some area near Durrus. George was possible a couple of years younger than my father (who was born in 1893 George was born some time in the later 1890s) George’s parents were George & Hetty Ahern. George’s brother Johnnie Ahern about the same age as my father, Johnnie did work or help or work on his sister’s farm in the early 1950s.
In their time the threshing was a memorable occasion as meitheal gathered to help and when all was done there was an evening of entertainment and sometimes song lubricated by stout.
Courtesy Kinsale Historical Society:
Gashes of Tracton 1950s:
More Tracton, p.28, 1950s: