Friday, May 30, 2014

AN SPAILPIN FANACH

Something quite different from NAUTICAL LOG this time.  My mother always had a camera with her when we went anywhere.  It was a "box" Brownie Kodak camera and she had been taking photos since childhood.  Going through some of them to build an album NAUTICAL LOG came across a rather unique photo of one of Ireland's wandering workmen a "spailpín  fánach" in our Gaelic language.


 
Life in Ireland when my mother was growing up was quite difficult and not made any easier by the rather vicious laws imposed by the British Administration.  The life of an itinerant farm worker into the 20th. Century was particularly harsh.  Hard physical work, low wages and maltreatment by landowners (not always the British ones unfortunately) had to be endured.  Even the word from Gaelic "spailpín" means a low person or one of poor character.  Both men and women could be found wandering the countryside looking for work and carrying a collection of tools with them to do it.

They were most often people who had been evicted by the British Laws from their farmhouses and labourers cottages which viciously were then torn down to the four walls and can still be seen in parts of Ireland today.

The eviction battering ram used to destroy the home
 
One such man finally gave it up and went to France to join the French Army most likely the French Foreign Legion.  There is a poem in Gaelic and English at  **(www.irishpage.com/songs/spailpin)** which tells his sad tale.

While the quality of the photograph is not very good please remember it is around 100 years old.  NAUTICAL LOG would be very interested to hear from you if you have any similar information.  Please contact  me at  dpeterboucher@gmail.com

**  It appears this link is not working.  If you do a general Google® search under "spailpin fanach" you can get in to the irishpage website.


Count D. Peter Boucher, Kt. SMOM

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