Blackberry Jam and Apple Tarts

This is a memory piece which I had published last year in  ‘Irelands’ Own’. Enjoy 🙂

CIE cap

My Das’ CIE cap is still in the wardrobe in my Mams room, on top of the overnight bag

he used to bring with him when he drove to Cork or Limerick. He loved Cork but

Mam said he hated the Limerick trip. I often helped Mam pack his bag. He brought his

dinner with him and cooked it down there in the kitchen provided for them. Ma always

had the same list for Da’s bag. Tea, sugar, butter, eggs, milk, bread, potatoes, small tin of

peas and a chop. He must have had a pain in his face eating pork chops.Imagine having

to bring your own milk sugar and tea. No such thing as teabags back then either. Ma

put a few spoons of loose tea in brown paper and screwed it up tight.’The drivers

today don’t know they’re born’ my Ma says,’with lovely bedrooms of their

own and a canteen.’I still think of Da when I see the small tins of marrowfat peas in

the supermarket.Even now when I’m writing my shopping list, I start with…tea, sugar,

butter, eggs, milk, bread ,potatoes ,peas, chops.

At the back of our house, accross the fields, ran the train line. When Da passed on his

way to Cork or Limerick he would beep the horn and we’d flash the light on and off to

let him know we heard him. On his way home, he’d beep again to let Ma know he was

on the way. She’d put her coat on and drive down to pick him up at the ranch in

Ballyfermot where he came out of the Inchicore CIE works. Da didn’t drive a car,only

a train.

CIE train

We weren’t allowed go near the railway line, but we were always up there. Ma and Da

would go mad when they found out. We went to pick blackberries, and the best ones

were always along the railway. One day, Da passed on the train and saw us. He

beeped the horn and put his fist up at us. We knew he was going to kill us when we

got home so we stayed out for ages ’til we thought he’d be gone to bed. He always

went to bed when he came home if he’d been driving through the night.

He was still up when we got home and there was murder.

Ma gave out to us too .She said Da was so angry, he couldn’t go for his sleep and now

he was going to be knackered driving that night.’It’s stressful enough driving that huge

train and being responsible for all those passengers’ she said.’without you lot

worrying him by hanging around the tracks when you’ve been told time and again to

keep away.’We couldn’t understand what the big deal was. Sure we were only

collecting blackberries like all the other kids. When Da went to bed for a few hours

Mam still made jam with the blackberries we collected. My Ma made deadly jam.
Blackberry jam

A boy off our road was killed crossing the railway line one day. Some of the lads said

his head was knocked off his body.We were terrified and didn’t go back up the railway

line for ages.Instead, we went up to the orchard for apples. We always had to be on

the look out for the farmer with his dogs. When we saw him we’d leg it across the

fields with the apples wrapped up in our jumpers.Climbing walls and squelching

through ditches,dropping half the apples on the way, but not daring to go back for fear

of getting caught by the farmers dogs, or shot in the leg by his shotgun. When we got

home we’d be covered in cuts and bruises. I thought it was much safer up by the

railway tracks than in farmer Browns orchard.

We always told Ma that we got the apples in my friends grannies back garden.’Your

granny must have a huge back garden’ she said to my friend one day, but I could see

the twinkle in her eye. My friends ma’s didn’t bake. They used to hang around at the

back door when they got the smell of the apple tarts coming from our oven. My Ma

made deadly apple tarts.

apple tart

About trishnugentwriter

A wife and mother of four who writes and acts as much as she can in between the housework and shopping. I have been published in 'Irelands Own' 'Intallaght' and 'Tallaght Echo'. I have won prizes for poetry including 1st place in The Bealtaine Writing comp in 2012.I'm a member of drama group in 'An Cosan' in Tallaght and also 'Platform One' Writers group in Rua Red.
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One Response to Blackberry Jam and Apple Tarts

  1. writerlyderv says:

    Enjoyed that. Could taste the blackberries and apples. Could hear you speak the way you might have spoken then. The idea of your Da beeping at ye as he passed was very touching; expressed a lot without spelling it out.

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