When John Thomas died in November attendances dropped by a third
The kettle still danced on the pot-hook but one of three cups never stirred
Into Winter he’d fetched and he’d carried, though in truth the ladies did more
But the habits ingrained in a lifetime can be soothing and hard to ignore
As the last verse leaned to the chorus, he bartered his peace for their word
The man of the house the protector, in tenderest whispers inferred
The widow and spinster McAuley still meet as they had done before
Though the comfort that came with a clatter be lost to the great evermore
The John Thomas McAuley I remember was a giant of a man. Made all the bigger by the high hat that we wore in my memory. I was only four or five when he passed away but I still remember him and his imposing presence.
As was often the custom back then he had ten or twelve years on his wife and she would see out the last twenty years of her life without him. Who she did have was John Thomas’ sister who lived next door.
It had long been a community of three with John Thomas running the farm that both houses were built on. That’s not to say that the ladies didn’t do their share and maybe more at times.
There were two sets of cattle, his cattle and his sisters cattle and they shared the couple of fields in the farm. When the hay was saved it was brought back to two hay sheds, one at each abode. There was two turf sheds as well though ownership of the turf was decided on a yearly basis.
Pretty much every evening that I remember being there John Thomas’s sister would call over to his wife’s house and there would be an hour or two spent supping tea and talking. Then she’s head back the thirty or forty yards back to her own place to spend the night.
His sister is still around today, heading for ninety and still living on her own in a prefab positioned close to the road. The old place is derelict back up the field.