With Easter fast approaching I thought it would be nice to catch up with a local resident of Quigley’s Point and see how her Easter days were spent many years ago. May McLaughlin (nee Rutherford) turned 93 in January. She regularly tells me stories of days gone by and of people who are no longer with us. I visited May earlier this week for a cuppa and a chat and she filled me in on how her Easter was spent as a young girl.


May tells me that the Church and its celebrations were at the fore of Easter. Chocolate eggs were unheard of. She says that ‘on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we had to get up early for mass. We weren’t even allowed a cup of tea and had to fast from midnight the previous night.’ They returned home from mass and then went to school. Holidays were only a few days back then and the main holiday was kept until October when schools would close for two weeks for the potato gathering.


Lenten fasting was paramount at this time. May says she remembers that during Lent they were allowed three meals a day and nothing in between. Every Wednesday and Friday were fast days and you never questioned it. She tells me that before the mass on Easter Saturday night, the Easter fire was lit in the chapel yard. After the ceremony everyone took a piece of turf and used this to light their own home fires on Easter Sunday morning. This was to keep the home safe from fire throughout that year.


May recalls how on Easter Sunday after mass herself and her siblings and neighbouring children would gather at a garden just below their home house in Carry, Iskaheen, and light an Easter fire. There they would boil eggs and enjoy their Easter picnic. She says ‘we had a wee bite of whatever ye took out wi ye’. Lemonade was a treat if it was available and tea was a luxury as it was non existent during the war years. A simple day with siblings was luxurious. The older boys would go down to the garden earlier and build a slab hut. The same boys would then burn the hut later in the day. May says ‘we always looked forward to Christmas and Easter because we knew we would get something of a treat. The remainder of the year was always tough and we just muddled on’.


May lost her younger brother Dan just a few days ago. Dan was 87 years old and died inScotland. While talking about Easter she incorporated Dan into a lot of her memories.

Whilst telling me about fasting during Lent and the lack of food in general throughout the year, she told me a wee story about her late brother Dan.  Dan would eat his bread which was meant for lunch on route to school in the mornings. He always had a lunchtime date for a fight with a rival young man on a daily basis. It turns out the two men were in fact related! She laughs heartily on remembering the day the fight continued on the way home and Dan threw a stone at his rival but missed and instead ‘killed the old rooster’. As May says, Dan’s rival got off lucky that day!!

This young at heart 93 year old has fond memories of Easter time in years gone by but never forgets the hardships they endured. Family always was and still is the centre of her world. Even at 93 she clearly misses her late brothers. Another brother Vincent is still very much a part of his community and family life inLargs,Scotland.

May is a real inspiration to us all today and unlike most of us, always has time to sit down with a cuppa for a chat.