The Rambling Houses
By Michael O'Connor
The Rambling Houses.
These houses were ordinary farmhouses, occupied by farming families who opened their doors at weekends to anybody wishing to enter and partake of the music and dancing, the music provided by a gramophone playing vinyl records of various musicians playing accordions, fiddles, tin whistles individually or in Ceili Bands. The house that I was born in was a Rambling House for many years. It was know as Peter Johnny’s Cottage and those “RACKETS” as the dances became know were held there every few weeks. There were seven other houses involved in these “Rackets” so they rotated evenly around. It was really enjoyable for everybody having so many dances to choose from. There was the Barn dance, Half – Sets, Polkas, Haymaker’s Jig and plenty of Waltzes. This usually went on till the “small hours”, as a break from dancing there was time allotted to singers, and there were always fine old ballads to be heard.
At that time most of the floors were of concrete and maybe the odd flagstone here and there, so coming to around midnight there was quite a lot of dust in circulation. The local remedy was to “douse” the floor with buckets of water. So the end result was a big splash – A wash out!
The light was provided by an oil lamp hanging on the kitchen wall. Later on the paraffin oil was rationed, so that light was provided by the “BOG OAK” – timber found in the bog, which gave out a wonderful, warm glow all night. So everybody enjoyed themselves and went home “as happy as Larry” as the old saying goes.