Olden Days

Kay Cullen's First online Exhibition

Welcome to my First ever Virtual Online Exhibition; Olden Days! 

These Pastels and Watercolours take you through life on the farm in the mid-20th Century and my experiences whilst growing up as a young child.

A Well-Earned Cuppa

An early memory:

When the mown hay had been tied into sheaves and put into stooks, the men were all ready for a well earned cuppa. The tea was put into two lemonade bottles, with milk and sugar added, and carried in a shopping bag with great big slices of homemade wheaten bread and cheese. Occasionally, a good slice of ginger bread would be an added treat. The tea came wrapped in a tea towel to keep it warm.

Making the Stacks

These pastels of the mountains show one of my favourite views. It's from Henry McManus's field, near where the Tory Bush Cottages now stand. The composition was drawn from an old black and white photograph from about 100 years ago at a farm in our locality.

Feeding the chicks

Every spring, my Mum always looked out for a broody hen. She would incubate the eggs in a nice cozy nest made of hay. Sometimes, to give the chicks a good head start, my Mum would put them in a cardboard box, and would keep it near the range indoors, until the chicks were ready to hatch.

Feeding The Hens

On the farm, the hens were fed once each day with oats or "corn" as it was commonly known. This corn was saved at harvest time during the threshing process, and the remainder was kept as bedding and fodder for animal feed indoors during severe winter weather. The hens roamed free all day scratching for insects etc. and were locked up safely at night lest a fox come along.

Collecting the Eggs

Growing up in the country, free range eggs were always available. Any surplus were gently cleaned with a damp cloth, ready for sale to our local mobile grocery. Most of the eggs were used in everyday meals. Baking homemade treats like cakes and buns was our number one favorite pastime on a cold wintery afternoon (number two was eating them!). Before long, I was allowed to feed the hens, and the older siblings were allowed to collect their eggs.

Looking for New Lambs

I remember my brother waking me up very early on a spring day. We got dressed very quickly, then out the door and up the lane. The whin bushes heavy with yellow blossom, smelling strongly of coconut and having little cobwebs draped between their thorny leaves, were sometimes sparkling with drops of dew in the sunshine. Just as my brother had predicted, the yearling had just produced her first lamb! She gently licked around it's mouth and nose, and nuzzled it softly until it stood on its shaky legs. Every few days, we would shepherd the sheep and lambs across the lanes to a fresh pasture for them to graze.

The Horse and Cart

Learning to Plough

Ready For Fodder

New shoes from the Blacksmith

Saving the Turf 

In the shadow of Ben Wiscan, Co. Sligo, with the famed Ben Bulben in the background, I watched the two old brothers working hard to foot the turf. They stacked it carefully to dry in the wind, and eventually loaded up their little barrow to bring home for winter fuel. Brown Coal! 

Bringing Home the Catch

A few years ago in Donegal, near the Téilann Harbour I looked at modern fishermen coming home with their fish in yellow plastic boxes, and I had a memory from my teenage years. Back then, the fishermen in coracales packed their catch in wooden boxes, and the lobsters were kept in seawater with their claws tied so they couldn't escape. This prompted me to paint this scene from days gone by. If any of the men were lost at sea, the pattern of their home knitted Aran Jumpers were used to identify the individual. Each family had their own particular design.

Gathering Spuds

Long before there were big industrial machines to bring home the potatoes, the children often got a week or two off Primary School to help with the harvest. On small farms, there was a horse drawn hoker which spun forks along the drills under the potatoes to leave them on top of the ground, for easy gathering. At the end of October, through bitter cold winds, the most backbreaking work could start; taking the potatoes to the pit. There, they were covered with a thatch of rushes and earth to be stored until needed.

Milking Daisy

Clipping the Sheep