by Dan KeaneCoopers:
To trace the origin of the Cooper trade in the parish we must go back to two brothers and a sister who came from Cork and settled in Kilbaha. Their initial residence was in the farm owned later by Bill Shine (a direct descendant) and later by his son known as Connie Bill Shine, the farm was later sold and is now the property of Patrick Kearney also of Kilbaha.
It was from this farm, Con Shine (grandfather to the present Connie and Jack in the Glin Road) came and married in to the farm where Connie now resides, he married a girl by the name of Mulvihill who owned the farm.
I don’t know anything of his romances or if the girl had any influence on him, but he was in a coach with his brother on their way to Cobh, he leaped from the coach and came back to work as a cooper.
Strangely they are the only branch to be referred to as the “Coopers”, the Dirreen and Athea Shines can be traced back to the same roots. Dan Shine (brother to Molly Shine the teacher) was also a cooper, his residence and work- shop was where Bobby Stack and family now live.
The Cooper Trade goes back generations and generations, cows had milk long before creameries were heard of, home-made butter was a big business and chums had to be provided for the making, and firkins for the transport, plus tubs and barrels for other purposes.
The wood used for barrel making could be teak or oak, depending on what it was being used for; the butter firkins were always made of oak, as the teak would taste in the butter.
The only cooper I ever knew was O’Donnell of Abbeyfeale, he worked at the trade up to the 1940s. It was there I learned of the many tools required, their names and functions.
The mare was the wooden bench, rule, saws, hammer, pincers, hoops, rivets, planes Gack or jointer and smoothing plane), maul (a mallet), brace and bits, spoke-shave vice, rasps, all as we know to day. The vice was small gripped on to the mare, the spoke-shave longer than the modem one, compass to mark circle for ends, anvil small bolted to mare for clinching rivets, driver or drift wedge shaped with timber handle, struck by mallet for driving on hoops, bot- tom was iron with groove to catch hoop, it was about two inches wide. Borer was making holes in hoops, in-shave was to clean out after burning shavings, when barrel was made prior to putting on hoops, shavings were burned in the barrel, this dried the wood and hoops were then put on and then the moisture would later swell the wood and make it water tight.
Hallowing knife was for cleaning and shaping, cooper’s chalk for marking, edging stones generally got from river, clefting asee, axe with arched blade like an adze. Crumbling knife for shaping inside edge. Croze for cutting grove for bottom or top to fit into, trestle for rounding hoops,1)1e cresset was an iron frame used when barrels or firkins were being assembled.
In the carpentry trade, the name Shine finds its place among those in the Parish. I could find no record of the jarvey or side-car being made in the Parish, though I can remember many being in use, from the 1930s on the trap took over. Traps were made at Shines in the Glin Road and for the purpose, old four wheeled coaches were bought for the axles and wheels as they were perfect. Some trap wheels were imported, and some were made in their own workshop.
The making of the wheels as in the same principle as the common cart wheel, though the timber was lighter and the stock smaller, but of course the decorative aspects required special brushes for striping wheels and body. Con shine, grandfather of Bridie Shine (nee Shine), Glin Road, worked at the trade for years, his sons Con and Dan carried on the trade.
Dan worked on in the home place, and Con eventually moved to the southern end of the village, home of Father John and the late Connie and Sheila and where Connie’s wife Bridie has her grocery business.
The Stocks of the wheels for the common cart were made of elm and were cut in Sallow glen and kept in a loft to season. The spokes and felloes were ash, with two spokes per felloe giving 12 spokes and 6 felloes.
The common relationship with the trap wheel was the reddening by fire of the iron band, this was a Smith’s job. The red band encircled the wheel and cold water was then applied to cool and contract the iron and thus to squeeze the wheel, smaller bands were on the hubs, one inside and one outside, and in the centre of the hub was the iron box in to which the axle was inserted, in the trap wheels the band was flat inside and the outside had a groove to contain the rubber band. There were two types of rubber bands, one flat, one round, round or flat they had to be coaxed and forced into position.
Paddy Shine lived on the Tarbert Road, he made all the butter boxes for the Newtownsandes Creamery, each box contained 561bs of butter. In later years those boxes were much in demand and are now almost a collectors item. He also made hay racks and had a special brace which made all the holes in the head in one go, thus all the racks were uniform.
John Shine went to Dublin where he worked as a coach builder, Tom shine used to make birds cages. I remember Tom sitting on his small chair, he was not a dwarf but for some reason his legs did not develop, knowledge wise he was a genius and was known to assist his brothers wisdom wise on complicated occassions.
On the same Glin Road was Roche’s workshop, Tom Roche (grandfather to the present Tom, Seamus and Joan) was the proprietor, he was brother to Mick Roche who lived at a spot that now bears their name “Roches Cross”.
The Roches were natives of Ballyline, Ballylongford. They came and settled in Moyvane, but Tom at least did not come by any short cut, he went to America and married a Foley girl and they came and domiciled in Moyvane, any- thing I have said about the trade in the Shine story could equally apply to the Roches, but one thing I did not say was that to make a pair of wheels for a horses cart was a good weeks work for a man.
The tools used were the usual as they are today, but a lathe was used to shape the stock and of course to turn out any well finished job edge was a vital neccessity, a large augur was used to hole through shaft axle case and supporting block. To ensure the hole was perfectly straight, the simple piece of twine was used to ensure head of augur was an equal distance from given marks and to keep the car in a proper balance the axle was slightly nearer to the back.
Both Roches, Tom and Mick worked seperately but carried on the same trade which included chairs and furniture, bins, dressers, kitchen presses etc. I saw Mick Roche making furniture up to 1950s but at that stage dressers were losing their popularity, that is until they became antiques and gained a new status when most of them were gone, there are still a few around.
The O’Connor family lived east of the village in Aughrim. John O’Connor was the first O’Connor to settle there, he came from Bothairfn Dubh, on the Listowel Ballybunion road. He first came to Shanahans of Inchamore as a house carpenter and worked on in the Parish, he eventually married an Enright girl from Dirreen and carried on his trade just as the Roches and Shines, making cars, furniture and coffins. Speaking of coffins, I am told the old Con Shine had his coffin made for years before his death and kept it covered with bran bags.
John O’Connor’s son Patrick and his brother Jerry carried on the business, Jerry eventually went to Knockuare and carried on the trade. He married NeIl Leahy and settled in the village, Patrick married Mary McAuliffe and lived and worked in the place of his birth, again all I have said about the Roches and the Shines were also common to the O’Connors.
Patrick’s son Denis also worked as a carpenter in the same workshop as his father but the world was changing, tractors were coming in, furniture was being factory made, so here I must link Denis with Mick Roche son of Tom of the Glin Road. I remember both moving out roofing houses and sheds. Mick Roche erected many hay sheds, perhaps nothing strange, it was Mickfs Uncle, Mick who roofed Moranis stall back in the 1920s.
Bill Buckley was a house carpenter, a native of Gortdromagowna, he lived in Moyvane Village where his family still live. His son Willie is now a carpenter but doing far different work to the old trade and like James Vaughan and the Moloneys, far too young to write history. Sean Ahern also is too young for the history of the bygone days, but was very capable in the field of carpentry which he followed.
Shoemakers & Tailors
Jack Manaher shoemaker is mentioned in another article, while Pat Bunce came to the Glin Road from Ahalahanna, he used to do shoe repairs while there. His wife (nee Buckley) was a native of the Glin Road, and while on the leather I must mention Tom Culhane, the only harnessmaker in the village. Tom came from a farming stock in Leitrim, he lived at the northern end of the village where he carried on his trade and reared his family, his wife was one of the Hanlon singers, already mentioned. Like the carpenters changing times rendered his trade obsolete. Going far back in to time, there was a tailor named Griffin who lived in the Coilagurteen Road. It’s from him the Tailor’s bridge got its name. In Gortdromosillahy there was the tailor Dore, he came from Asdee, his mother was Carmody from Knockanure but they also came from Asdee. His wife was Dunne, relative of the present Dunnes. Many of the descendants are still in the Parish. Down the Mail Road was the tailor Walsh, ancestor of the present Danny Walsh.
Back up the Glin Road we have Timmy Buckley who was a native of the area and was also a tailor. He was married to a dressmaker by the name of Catherine Foran, also an old name in the Parish. The Marion hall built on the same site as the old hall, was originally two dwelling house bought from a man named Foran. Up the street was Mrs Quinn nee Mamie Windle, one of the local family of Windles, her husband Stephen was one of the Quinns of Leitrim, while my sister Mary (Mrs O’Connor) and Ellen Moloney-Nolan (Jerry Nolan’s wife) were capital hands with the needle.
In the very old art of weaving, Mike Mulvihill of Tubbertoureen (grandfather to Willie Mulvihill of Clounbrane) was probably the last weaver around, he died in 1907, I never heard of my maternal grandfather Wllham Moore being a weaver until I read of him described as such in his death certificate.
Willie Mulivhill told me he heard of his grandfather walking to Killarney to get something he needed for the weav- ing. For the weaving the only things I ever heard of were the shuttle and loom.
There was once a quaint old village in the townland of Toomafloodig in the parish of Ballydonoghue where several weavers lived and flax was grown specially for the industry.
After growing, the flax was cut and covered over in the bog or place into water. I have seen evidence of where it was buried in Stack’s Bog in Carrueragh, the purpose was to rot the outer shell or at least render it capable of being removed to gain access to the thread like fibre within.
After removal from ground or water, the next process was to scutch the flax, this was done by pounding with an implement called a scutcher or by striking it against some surface that would break the timber without damaging the threads.
I once worked at Leahy’s of Carrueragh and got the job of scutching corn, this was done by striking the sheaf against the bottom of a large upturned pot, the idea was not to damage the sheaf, as that would impair its value for thatch purposes.
The flail was used for the same purpose. Father Pat Ahern told me that he once saw men flailing corn on a concrete
floor, he spotted the chaff and grain bouncing upwards at the stroke of the flail, it reminded him of Longfellow’s
poem, “The Village Blacksmith”
“and watch the burning sparks that flylike chaff from a threshiilg floor”.
Speaking of smiths, I don’t know if there were any spreading chestnut trees in Moyvane but its not so long ago since we had two forges, one in Aughrim on the Tarbert Road and one on the Glin Road. The one on the Tarbert Road was last worked by the late Billy Horan, but here again progress was the cause of decline, the horse was replaced by the tractor so horse shoeing was no longer a function of the forge. The electric drill and the welding machine were also a contributory factor in the decline of the forge as known in the past.
Billy Horan’s father Paddy Horan came from the Currow area. He came first to Ballyhahill where he had a forge, but later he married Mary O’Grady and took up business in O’Grady’s forge. Mary’s father Paddy O’Grady came to Moyvane from Clare, he married a Mulvihill girl and built his forge in Mulvhill’s land, that would be back in the late 1800s. I remember an old thatched house in Mulvihills land.
The forge in the Glin Road owned by the O’Connors is no longer there, the bellows and some forge implements are now in Teach Siamsa in Tralee. Tom, Jack and Maurice O’Connor all worked in the forge, Jack emigrated, Tom married a Glin girl by the name of Normyle, he built a new house in the Glin Road. Maurice was living on in the old home. Tom and his wife and family lived in the new house, but sadly Tom left his family to mourn him. Maurice carried on in the forge but Maurice R.I.P. has also passed on. They were sons of Con O’Connor who was also a smith, his wife was Bambury from Ballylongford.
The work in both forges would of course be the same, horse shoeing was a big factor and putting the iron bar on cart wheels meant a large fire out in the open.
Con’s brother Tom was also a smith and lived in the Glin Road in the old home with his sister Kate, Mrs Scanlon. Con had moved from there when he married. Tom did not marry, they owned “Danty Man” when he won the Irish Cup in 1930, the cup is still in the family.
Con was the first of the O’Connors to own the forge, the previous owner was a man by the name of McElligott of whom I have no record. The forge was built around 1850, having a life span of 150 years.
Also, at one time there was a grinding mill, it was in the farm now owned by Stevie Stack but at the time of the mill the occupant was a man by the name of Oliver Smith, Its motive power was water harnessed from a stream in Glenalappa which was crossing the road, just above McCabes height.
Progress has made many changes and no doubt as the old adage says:
“The mill will never grind again with the waters that are gone”.