I was Granny reared; an Irish country childhood

Image 1 - Dromore Street Ballynahinch Co Down Ireland c1900 OLD PHOTO

In my last post, I talked about the Christian principles evident in Anne of the Island and it got me thinking of my own childhood being brought up on these principles and other moral principles by my beloved maternal grand-mother. My grand-mother, or Nanny as I called her, as we say in the country in Ireland ‘Granny reared’ me for most of my young life.

I was looked after by my Nanny and maternal great-aunts and great-uncles (who came from Dromore, County Down pictured above) from a very early age; from the age of six months! As we say in Ireland we were ‘reared’, though pronounced as ‘rured’ in County Down dialect, which was and still is common in Ireland as parents had to go out to work when children were still young to pay the mortgage, bills, childcare, and other costs.

It was according to County Down speak, ‘a quere, grand rearing,’ and not uncommon amongst my friends either as close friends had the same rearing as myself and remain very close to their grandparents to this day. From my maternal relations I learnt a lot about life and how to treat people and animals with decency and respect. I also learnt how to cook, bake, sew, knit, hand washing of clothes, how to run a household on a tight budget, how to apply red lipstick, and very importantly how to make sure your stocking seams were straight!

When my relations were busy and not teaching me a plethora of skills I was parked in front of the TV with my Hollie Hobby mug of tea and watched Sesame Street and then an old move on Channel Four. In the 1990s, Channel 4 had the best afternoon TV line-up Sesame Street and then an old Hollywood golden-era movie! Is it any wonder I’m obsessed with vintage clothing, hair, and make-up? I was transfixed from the start with old movies, both colour and black and white; Rita Hayworth, Jean Harlowe, Katherine Hepburn, and Ginger Rogers were and remain my favourites!

1930s women knitting Stock Photos - Page 1 : MasterfileThough I did learn from my relatives how when they reared their own children life wasn’t as easy for them as it was for them rearing me and their grandchildren. The weekly wash was at first done by hand, the floors swept manually, and food bought daily. ‘Make Do And Mend,’ were daily watch words and their frugality remained with them their whole lives and was passed onto me. Notwithstanding, they did indulge themselves from time to time and weren’t scrooges when it came to food and other items; they simply made do with what they had and mended what didn’t need replaced.

Despite these hardships, family, Church, and friends remained central to their happy lives. The importance of maintaining friendships and familial relationships was passed down to me so that I would have the same happy lives as my maternal relations. All these lessons I have learnt from having been ‘Granny (and Great-Aunt and Great-Uncle!) reared.’ Something very special indeed!


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