My mother at around eight years old. That would have been in the early 1930s. She looks feisty.
It is her anniversary today, and she's dead nine years now. She would have despised lockdown. No callers, no runs out in the car. I'm glad she missed it.
Matty would have been pleased to know that we were all thinking of her today. And as staying at home and baking is the new going out I am happy to be able to share (courtesy of Kerry Sister) our mother's recipe for boiled cake.
And this is Mum's recipe for wheaten bread which comes (I think) via Ganching.
I haven't got a recipe but I do have this piece of writing. I am certain that if Matty had ever got to grips with social media she would have had her own blog.
OUR DOG JESS
I was born on a farm near Cullybackey and when I was seven weeks old I was taken from my mother. A girl called Mary lifted me and put me in a cardboard box. She was taking me to her Dad as a present for his birthday now that he was retired. We arrived at Drumkeeran Road and Mary took me into the house and sat me down on the floor. The first thing I did was a piddle for I was very scared.
The big man looked at me and said,
“You are not exactly the kind of a dog that I would’ve wanted but now you are here Matty and I will look after you.”
Mary went back home knowing her Dad was pleased with his birthday present.
Matty made me a good place to sleep in the wash house and that place was called “bed”. When the big man shouted “bed” I ran and jumped into it. That was the first word I learned and next was my name “Jess”. I was happy enough with that name because before I was just called “pup”.
My favourite thing was a hand brush and I gave it some abuse and before long when I had finished chewing it you would not have known what it was. I think Matty had to buy a new one and keep it hidden from me.
A lot of things were not allowed in this house like jumping up on armchairs or sofas but I got lying on a mat in front of the fire and it was very cosy.
The big man Seamus, who is Matty's husband, thinks I am a very clever dog but then collies are well known for being clever. When I was put outside to go to the toilet I would let them know I wanted to come in. I would go round to the front window and tap it very hard with my paw and they would open the door and let me in.
My first winter I saw snow for the first time and I was scared for I lost my sense of direction. I was glad to get back into the house for my paws were frozen.
One morning the big man and Matty went off shopping and left me alone. I slept for a while but when I woke I got bored and lonely. Now if I could open that back door I could go and look for them for I missed them. I jumped and banged against the door but it did not open but what I did do was push the bar across and the door was now locked from the inside. When they came back they could not get in. Matty had to come in through a window and get the door unlocked. I made them feel so welcome they forgot to be cross with me.
Sometimes Mary would bring her dog with her when she came to visit. To me that dog was an intruder and I showed it no friendship. I was also scared the big man and Matty might like it better than me.
One morning when I went outside and looked into the field beside us it was full of woolly animals that I had never seen before so I went to investigate. They started running up and down and I ran after them. I was enjoying the fun until Matty came out and shouted at me to come in. I knew she was cross. She went on and on about me chasing sheep until my head was aching. It did not happen again and for weeks after that if someone mentioned the word “sheep” I hid behind the sofa. It was a sad affair and me supposed to be a sheepdog!
Sometimes when the big man had some work to do in the fields he would take me with him and I would lie with my head between my paws watching what he was doing or sometimes I passed the time hunting for rabbits. We would both come home tired.
There is a very noisy road near us but I am not allowed to go there. One day I took off up the road and the next thing I heard Matty shouting and she brought me back. Her friend Agnes, had rung to tell her what I was doing and that put an end to my adventure. I will maybe try again sometime.
If Mattie and the big man were going away for a few days they took me to Mary and Bert’s to stay. I would follow Mary about and she was very good to me but I avoided the other dogs as much as possible. When the big man and Matty came back to collect me I got so excited I was barking and whining at the same time and I jumped up on them. They would bring me home and everything would be back to normal.
One night I was put out for my usual turn before bedtime and I thought I would go to that noisy road where I am not allowed to go and I had an accident. I was told later I was hit by a car. When I came round I was lying in the ditch with a very sore leg and feeling very frightened. I limped back down to the house, crept in the back door and got into my bed a very sorry dog. The big man and Matty took me to the dog doctor who stitched up my leg and then put some kind of plaster onto it. The people who work in that place were very good to me and told me I was lovely. I was that pleased I was all over them!
I don’t think I will ever want to go back to that noisy road again. Matty was right when she warned me against it.
Matty would take me for walks around these roads that have a lot of traffic and I would have to wear a lead. I missed the freedom of doing my own thing and running where I pleased.
I liked when some of the family came to stay and I got so excited when I saw them for I knew they belonged to the big man and Matty, even if they had not been home for some time I still knew them.
Some of the younger people who called would be a bit rough with me treating me like a toy. They maybe pulled at my tail or my ears. Many a time I was tempted to give them a sharp nip. Children should be taught by their parents to show kindness to all animals for we are not all vicious.
I have lived eleven years with the big man and Matty and I have always been loved and cared for but of late I get tired very easily.
Matty tells the rest of the story.
Early one winter evening Jess lay down at the front door and breathed her last. We were very sorry that Jess had died and we tried not to cry about her for she had gone so peacefully. She had given us so much happiness and she had lived a very happy life with us. No other dog could replace her. She was the greatest, our dog Jess.
I wrote this poem about Jess when she was here with us.
When the children had grown and flown the nest
And we thought it was time to be having a rest
But the days were long and the callers were few
So we decided that what we would do
We would get a little pup just a few weeks old
That would keep us company so we were told
Now this wee pup is fully grown
And many's the bad thing she has done
But we do not love her any the less
For she is the greatest, our dog Jess
She gives us all her love and devotion
But for good behaviour, she hasn’t a notion