By Kevin O’Sullivan
In the course of Ryan Tubridy’s RTÉ radio show one morning in November, the conversation turned to oral history and its importance in recovering histories otherwise lost (in this case of Irish women at war). Our grandparents and those of their generation, Tubridy said, were like ‘walking archives’. Not quite how they’d put it themselves I’m sure, but I think you get the idea. In that spirit, here’s a catchy little ditty about the wartime Irish government, relayed by my grandmother in west Clare this Christmas after receiving a gift of Tom Garvin’s Judging Lemass (reviewed here):
‘Bless de Valera and Seán McEntee,
They gave us the black flour,
And the half-ounce of tea.
They rationed the cocoa and all,
But they couldn’t ration the porter at all.
They brought starvation
To our little nation,
So cheer up St Vincent de Paul.’