Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Coolaney Wake

One of the poems of mine included in Census 3 the Seven Towers Anthology is called Invoice. Some time ago a local historian in Sligo gave me a large account book from Coleman's business premises in Coolaney, Co Sligo since that was my native place. The shop was a typical Irish country store selling almost everything. The account book covered the period from the early 1900s until the business collapsed mid-century.

I found the two entries above fascinating (click on the images to enlarge them). They detail the goods bought for a wake - 4 lbs 2 ozs tobacco, 18 large loaves of bread! Though notice that 2 lbs 5 ozs of the tobacco was returned after the wake.

The date of the entries was 24 and 26 June 1923. Interesting to note that the son of the shop owner, Michael Coleman, had been very active in the war of independence and had taken the anti-Treaty side in the civil war. By June 1923 with the end of the civil war he was either interned or on the run.

I used the entries as a found poem as part of a sequence on events in Co. Sligo at that time and changed the date to suit my story. Here is part of it. If you want to read the lot buy the anthology.

Invoice 15 August 1922

Six pounds of tobacco: Three pounds one shilling.
Two gross clay pipes: Seven and ninepence.
Half dozen boxes of matches: Sixpence.
One gallon of oil: two and tenpence.
Eight ounces of snuff: Six and eightpence.
One bottle of whiskey: Sixteen shillings.

One dozen long wax candles: One and six.
Six yards of black ribbon: Two shillings.
One pair of black gloves: Two and six.
A dozen handkerchiefs: Six shillings.

Scarf and hatband for hearse: Five and six.
Hearse driver: Ten shillings.
One brown habit: One pound five shillings.
One elm coffin fully mounted: Six pounds ten shillings.

Total: Seventeen pounds two shillings and ninepence.
Paid in full.


Connie Roberts said...

This is fascinating, Michael. I love it! And I love your poem!

Who knew Jack Harte from the Irish Writers' Centre had a job on the side driving a hearse :-)

Val said...

How interesting. I love your blog especially the bits about Coolaney.