- 26 February 2002
- Cill Mhuirbhigh
- Maeve Uí Fhlaithearta
- Bridget Hernon
- Archival information
- MD 46 Bridget Hernon. Clann; Obair Bhanaltra; An chéad turas go hÁrainn; Ag bogadh go hÁrainn; Teach Cill Mhuirbhigh; Taisteal agus Cuairteoirí; Clann.
- Additional information
- MD 46 Bridget Hernon. Family; Nursing; Her first trip to Aran; Moving to Aran; Kilmurvey House; Travel and visitors; Family.
- Archival Reference
- Bailiúchán Béaloidis Árann, BBAF.00040
- Recording & metadata © Bailiúchán Béaloidis Árann.
- See copyright details.
MAEVE: Mise Maeve Uí Fhlaithearta anseo ar an séú lá fichid de Feabhra 2002. Tá mé anseo i teach Cill Mhuirbhigh le Bridget Hernon. Hello Bridget.
BRIDGET: Hello Maeve.
MAEVE: How are you? And thank you very much for agreeing to chat with me here this morning.
BRIDGET: Not at all.
MAEVE: So we’ll start at the beginning, I’ll ask you about what part of Galway you came from and a little about your, your family, and did you come from a farming background?
BRIDGET: I came from a farming background, I came from a place called Ballintemple in County Galway and my father was a farmer and I went to school in Briarhill and
MAEVE: You had brothers?
BRIDGET: I had four brothers, one in Africa and one is the County Engineer in Ennis and two other brothers are farmers.
MAEVE: They’re farmers. Your brothers come here, don’t they? Two of your brothers.
BRIDGET: Yes, yes. And I went to school as I was saying in Briarhill and then afterwards I went to college in eh the Dominican College in Taylors Hill and then afterwards I went nursing in the Regional Hospital, the Galway Central Hospital as it was known then.
BRIDGET: And afterwards I went to the hospital in Croom in County Limerick.
MAEVE: Oh is that right? Yeah. Do you think there were much change in, in the nursing profession today and as it was when you were training or nursing?
BRIDGET: Well I suppose the profession is still the nursing profession but in certain ways it probably has changed, in certain ways. But we haven’t as many nurses now
MAEVE: There seems to be a shortage.
BRIDGET: There’s a shortage of nurses and that and, well back in my time we had beds for all patients. Nowadays we have patients in corridors.
MAEVE: Yeah that makes it very difficult.
MAEVE: Doesn’t it, yeah, you know. Did you ever have any emergencies in the house that you had to use your nursing experience?
BRIDGET: Yes, guests in the house might get sick and that ....
MAEVE: …. Guests yes ….
BRIDGET: .… and I’d get the doctor and maybe I’d have to go out in the Lifeboat with them.
MAEVE: Yes, yes.
BRIDGET: Yes, that was very seldom.
MAEVE: Very seldom.
BRIDGET: Very seldom.
MAEVE: But I’m sure it was a help that you had a ….
BRIDGET: …. Yeah, yeah ….
MAEVE: .… the training, if you needed to.
MAEVE: So when you first came to Aran did you come as a visitor?
BRIDGET: I came in to learn the Irish language back in the, back in the old days and I stayed in Joe Dirranes.
BRIDGET: Over in Eoghaill.
BRIDGET: There were other students there as well.
MAEVE: Were they? Was there an Irish college there at the time?
BRIDGET: No, no, no there wasn’t but we just visited all the people and we spoke nothing but the Irish language.
MAEVE: Oh yeah, so Irish was spoken everywhere then?
BRIDGET: Oh definitely, yes.
MAEVE: Yeah, so you just mixed with the
BRIDGET: Mixed with the, yeah
MAEVE: Oh yeah. So then do you remember when you first came to live in Aran?
BRIDGET: I came to live in 1947.
MAEVE: Did you? Yeah.
BRIDGET: 1945 rather, sorry. 1947 I opened the guest house.
MAEVE: Did you, did you? And how many people used you keep then or ?
BRIDGET: Twelve or, twelve or fourteen.
MAEVE: Did you?
BRIDGET: Back in those days.
MAEVE: And was there, was there a big change coming from the mainland to the Island at the time?
BRIDGET: No not necessarily.
MAEVE: Was it not?
BRIDGET: Things were much the same on the mainland. We didn’t have running water on the mainland and we didn’t have running water on the island.
MAEVE: So no major ….
BRIDGET: …. We didn’t have electricity.
BRIDGET: Or any of the “___+” we have today.
MAEVE: Yes, yes, so no, no, no major change.
BRIDGET: No major change indeed.
MAEVE: Except travel?
BRIDGET: Except travel, that’s right.
MAEVE: How difficult was that?
BRIDGET: Yes, it was very difficult. We had one boat a week in winter and two in summer and I remember one time boarding the boat in Kilronan with twenty cattle on board – the old ‘Dun Angus’ and we rocked and we rolled and I was going in to the Docks in Galway and I saw my brothers waiting for me and we started going in and we started to move out again and I said to one of the crew “what’s happening” and he said “we cannot dock, there’s a storm force ten” so we ploughed the Atlantic again and sheltered under Black Head. I left Kilronan today at two and I got into Galway tomorrow at four ….
MAEVE: ….Wasn’t that ….
BRIDGET: .… with cattle roaring on the boat.
MAEVE:` So travel is nothing to you now, I’d say. (Laughs)….
BRIDGET: …. Yes, yes, yes….
MAEVE: ….When you compare it with that.
BRIDGET: The changes we have now.
MAEVE: Wasn’t it amazing, wasn’t it yeah, I mean even if it’s rough now we’re only, what, three quarters of an hour….
BRIDGET: …. Look at the amount of boats we have a day.
MAEVE: I know.
BRIDGET: And look, we have a plane every hour.
MAEVE: Isn’t it amazing the difference. If people thought that .…
BRIDGET: …. That’s right ….
MAEVE: .… in those days they wouldn’t believe it. So when you came then did you get involved in any farming or gardening or any, that type of thing.
BRIDGET: I married a farmer
BRIDGET: Then I opened the guest house in 1947.
MAEVE: Yes, so you were more involved with the, with the guest house.
BRIDGET: With the guests, more than, yeah.
MAEVE: Than with the outside, yeah. And used you have many people working for you?
BRIDGET: Well I’d have two or three back in those days.
MAEVE: Would you?
MAEVE: And can you remember any of them?
BRIDGET: Katie Cooke yes, she’s dead now. She lived in the village, and another girl from the West.
MAEVE: Yes, that was nice, yeah.
MAEVE: So used they stay with you then when they’d be working?
BRIDGET: They used to go home, well sometimes they would stay, maybe summer time and sometimes they’d go home.
MAEVE: Would they? It depends.
BRIDGET: Yeah, it would all depend.
MAEVE: Yeah. Eh did you have any kind of interesting people staying in the house, can you think of any?
BRIDGET: Well back in those days, when I first opened I had William Power Taff’s son, who was then the President of the United States. Ah yes we used to get lots of people, people that used to want to get away from the media and ….
MAEVE: …. Oh yes.
BRIDGET: And from public life in general.
MAEVE: Is that right?
BRIDGET: They’d come for the peace and quiet.
MAEVE: That’s it, that’s it. And I’m sure nowadays people would, visitors would probably like to feel that sort of ….
BRIDGET: …. Yes, yes ….
MAEVE: .… would be maintained.
BRIDGET: Lots of, lots of people wouldn’t like the Aran Islands, like we’re not the Seychelles nor Miami Beach in Florida.
BRIDGET: Like it’s always simple living.
MAEVE: Isn’t it?
MAEVE: This is it and I mean, but I think that’s what people are coming for really.
BRIDGET: More or less, that’s right.
MAEVE: Isn’t it?
BRIDGET: Yes, and they get away from the maddening crowd.
MAEVE: Isn’t that it, and that’s what we should be maybe, maintaining.
MAEVE: Yeah. Eh I forgot to ask you what year you started to keep visitors, Bridget?
MAEVE: Did you have Brendan Behan staying with you?
BRIDGET: No, Brendan came to the door this particular night and I opened the door and this man was in it with his trousers all torn and he said “an mbeadh lóistín a’d?” and I said “no” so I sent him down to Conneelys and Mrs Conneely kept him, and the next morning he was running around the beach half naked and he was packed off on the boat.
BRIDGET: But he came back again then as a writer ….
MAEVE: …. Did he?....
BRIDGET: .… and he used to visit us frequently.
MAEVE: Used he?
MAEVE: Isn’t that nice, isn’t that nice. Yeah, and would you find the same people coming back, kind of?
BRIDGET: Back in those days, yes.
MAEVE: Yes, and they’d stay, how long would they stay, about?
BRIDGET: Between a week and a fortnight.
MAEVE: And you’d have priests staying, would you?
BRIDGET: Yeah, the priests that would be staying then would, we used to have to be up in the morning at seven o clock because the priests staying with you would have, would be saying Mass at about eight.
MAEVE: Would people from around locally, would they come?
BRIDGET: Well no, only just the guests in the house.
BRIDGET: That’s all.
MAEVE: If I can remember, because I used to come myself as a visitor, they wouldn’t say Mass on a Sunday, sure they wouldn’t? People would have to go to Mass in the church.
BRIDGET: Yes, that’s right, they’d have to go to Mass in the church.
MAEVE: In the church on Sunday. Only during the week, that’s right ….
BRIDGET: …. Only the week days, that’s all.
MAEVE: Yeah. Some friends of mine used to stay here too….
BRIDGET: …. Oh really? ….
MAEVE: …. Bernie Kenton still comes. Do you know Bernie?
BRIDGET: Oh yes.
MAEVE: She comes every year….
BRIDGET: …. That’s right ….
MAEVE: …. That’s right, yeah. And I was wondering then how would the people, the visitors come from Kilronan? If they were staying with you, how would they travel over?....
BRIDGET: …. Well there used to be side cars back in those days and they used to bring them.
MAEVE: Were there many side cars?
BRIDGET: Not, no, very, very few.
MAEVE: Just a few.
BRIDGET: Just a few, yeah.
MAEVE: And that was it yeah, yeah. And what sort of visitors, were they very demanding or ?
BRIDGET: Well not, not necessarily, they were only more or less part of the family, actually.
MAEVE: Were they?
BRIDGET: Yes, you know.
MAEVE: That’s what they enjoyed ….
BRIDGET: …. They weren’t demanding, no.
BRIDGET: You see, back in those days we didn’t have running water.
BRIDGET: Or indoor toilets, and that. Toilets were on the outside.
BRIDGET: And water was brought from the well.
MAEVE: I know, so was there a lot of work involved?
BRIDGET: A lot of work involved, yes definitely.
MAEVE: Yes, yeah, yes.
BRIDGET: Washing, you’d wash by hand.
BRIDGET: You’d put all the clothes out on the line to dry.
MAEVE: I know, I know. And there were no restaurants, or were there restaurants as well or?
BRIDGET: No there was no restaurants, guests were fed in the house.
MAEVE: Fed in the house….
BRIDGET: …. Where they stayed.
MAEVE: Yeah, so that meant ….
BRIDGET: …. There were no restaurants then.
MAEVE: You had three meals to sort of ….
BRIDGET: …. That’s right, yes.
MAEVE: So it was ….
BRIDGET: …. You had dinner then at two o’ clock in the day.
MAEVE: Is that right?
BRIDGET: Yes, not evening meals like you have now.
MAEVE: And tea then in the evening.
BRIDGET: Tea in the evening, yeah.
MAEVE: Oh yeah, oh yes. And so, you’re still very involved aren’t you, with the, with the guests?....
BRIDGET: …. Well yes as such, yes.
BRIDGET: But my daughter runs the whole set up now.
MAEVE: Yeah, she, she’s very, she’s a lovely way with her, Treasa, hasn’t she.
BRIDGET: Yes, well whatever job you have, if you don’t like it, don’t have it because you’re a penance to yourself and all around you.
MAEVE: If you don’t ….
BRIDGET: …. So I mean I liked the guests and I like people.
BRIDGET: And she likes people.
MAEVE: Isn’t that great.
MAEVE: Yeah, as you say, if you don’t enjoy people
BRIDGET: And enjoy, yes true.
MAEVE: But you enjoyed meeting people all the time?
BRIDGET: All the time, yes.
MAEVE: Isn’t that great, isn’t that lovely. That’s right. And then, this house here, it’s a, it has great character and great history. Can you tell me anything about it?
BRIDGET: It was built by the O’Flahertys. This house was a thatched cottage at one stage. When the O’Flahertys came from Aughnanure Castle, they were the ferocious O’Flahertys, oh Lord deliver us.
BRIDGET: And the first priest of the island was supposed to be one of them.
MAEVE: Is that right?
BRIDGET: Yes, knight of the chalice and “___+”
MAEVE: Is that right? Isn’t that lovely.
BRIDGET: At that stage.
MAEVE: Isn’t that marvellous, to keep that, to keep that sort of.
BRIDGET: It goes back a long way.
MAEVE: Doesn’t it, yeah. And you’ve retained, you’ve retained the character, in the house.
BRIDGET:` Well as such.
BRIDGET: As such.
MAEVE: Yeah, you have really you know. And then, when I asked you about tourism, do you think it has changed over the years?
BRIDGET: Well there’s much, much, much more tourists, you see we, you see we have so many boats a day now.
BRIDGET: And a plane every hour.
BRIDGET: During the season.
BRIDGET: So that you have, the day people as well as people staying. You have an awful lot of day people.
MAEVE: Yes, yeah.
BRIDGET: As well as people staying on the island.
MAEVE: Staying on the island as well, yeah. Oh yeah and you have a, you have a coffee shop now as well.
MAEVE: Which is nice.
BRIDGET: At the entrance going up to Dun Angus.
MAEVE: Yes, that’s great too, yeah. So you have three lovely grandchildren now.
BRIDGET: Three grandchildren, that’s right.
MAEVE: That’s lovely, yeah.. What ages are they now, Bridget?
BRIDGET: Ailsa is twelve, and Noel is nine and Ciarán is four.
MAEVE: Oh isn’t that lovely, isn’t that lovely. So they have a nice, a nice lifestyle now.
BRIDGET: Well they have. The children of today have a great lifestyle, everywhere.
MAEVE: Yes, yeah.
BRIDGET: It was different in the old days. I mean they have a bus to take them to school now and take them from school.
MAEVE: Yes, yes.
BRIDGET: Back in the old days they’d have to walk to school.
MAEVE: And how far used you have to walk to school?
BRIDGET: Oh I used to have to walk about a mile.
MAEVE: A mile.
BRIDGET: In my young days.
MAEVE: And you walked, you weren’t, no cars ….
BRIDGET: …. Oh no cars, no.
MAEVE: And how (--) did you wear shoes or did you ?
BRIDGET: No, we went in our bare feet in the Summer.
MAEVE: They did that here too but they did it on the mainland too.
BRIDGET: They did, yes.
MAEVE: Isn’t that something, you know. Well that’s very nice Bridget and thank you very much for talking to me.
BRIDGET: Not at all, not at all Maeve.
MAEVE: That was great, thank you very much Bridget.