She Married one of the Rockybottoms.

Nov 26, 2012 by

My mother came from a large family in Castlebar Co. Mayo.  When we were children we loved nothing better than when she and her siblings got together (mainly after funerals or weddings) and told stories about Castlebar in the past.  All were blessed with a great ability to tell a story. I was firmly convinced when I was a child that everyone was completely mad in the town.  However, now I think about it maybe people were better accepted for eccentricity then and not labelled as they are now.

One of the characters often spoken about was a lady called Maimie Graham. To this day I have a picture of her in my mind.  Considering I never saw her or met her, this has to be attributed to my aunts and uncles’ ability to create a picture. 

Maimie and her sister Annie used walk into town from a neighbouring village, to sell milk in old-fashioned churns.  For some reason they only did this after dark.  When my mother was a child she was terrified of the shadowy Maimie, walking outside on the road; visible from the driveway of my grandparents’ house.  She used wave a torch and as there was little or no street lighting then, my mother was convinced she was a ghost as the light danced about through the trees. The fact that her older sisters perpetuated this myth did not help her fear either. Maimie wore a hat pulled down on her face and grey or dark coloured clothes.

My mental image is of a slightly mad old lady with straggley, grey hair and a dirty face wearing layers of petticoats and an old overcoat.  The hat pulled down over her face and dark sturdy mens’ shoes with streaks of dirt on her bare legs.

My grandmother was very fond of saying to us we looked like Maimie Graham particularly when we wore a certain type of hat. Recently I heard myself telling my daughter the exact same thing when she arrived home wearing a hat.  I then had to try to explain to her what I meant.

The Cobweb today

I was talking to my mother on the phone when the subject of the Rockybottoms came up.

My sister had met someone recently who came from Castlebar. She told my mother her name.  My mother trying to place her said that she thought this woman’s mother had married one of the Rockybottoms.  When what she had said sank in, I started to laugh and asked her what she was on about.

Apparently the Rockybottoms owned a shop next door to our family pub- The Cobweb (in Irish An Greasan an Damhain Alla) which at that time was a pub, grocery, undertaker and my great grandmother held court there as the local matchmaker. The Rockeybottoms sold furniture and other various household items.  The proprietor used to stand outside on the footpath shouting “come on in – rock bottom prices” and so the family became known as The Rockybottoms.

They understandably did not like this nickname and apparently there was war if they were called the Rockybottoms. 

Ironically the shop is still there and is called Rocky’s.

In the same conversation she then started to tell me about another pub further down the street called Bucko Sheridan’s. They had cows and walked the cows through the town and in through the bar for milking, twisting their tails to prevent the inevitable.  My mother said that the locals sat up at the bar never blinked when this procession occurred at the same time every evening. 

This pub is still called Bucko’s today.

Sadly, characters such as these seem to have all but disappeared from towns in Ireland or else they are not spoken about.  I really wish that I had had the foresight to record the stories at the time.  Most of my uncles and aunts are now dead and the three that are left are well into their eighties.  But I am so grateful that I got to sit spellbound as a child and listen to all the stories.  It was magic.

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