For the benefit of anybody outside the immediate family who may read this history, the author is the son of Bridget Doyle, second daughter of John Doyle and Mary Diffley. Bridget (Bridgie) married Tom Coughlan in 1956. Tom's origins and the Coughlan family background is intended to be fully documented later in this study, but for now it suffices to say that Tom died aged just 39 in 1961, leaving Bridgie to raise me, her son, Tommy[1], the author of this history.

Inevitably, perhaps, the result was that Bridgie and I spent much more time with the Doyles than with the Coughlans, and I have many happy memories of long summers spent in Clooncarne in the 1960s and 1970s.

If Dublin of the period was somewhat quiet and provincial in comparison to other major cities of its size and status internationally, it still felt decades removed from Clooncarne.

Electicity only came to Clooncarne sometime late in the 1950s and the 'wireless' on the wall above the settlebed in the kitchen was regarded with awe and suspicion, and had to be plugged out whenever thunder threatened. Water had to be fetched by the bucket load from the same well on the road that Eliza Reynolds fell into in 1933. The house still had the same layout as indicated by the 1901 Census. The roof was thatched until around 1970 when Bernie had it slated. There was even a half-door over which the author would lean and pretend to be a bus conductor collecting fares.

Cars were still so rare that when one was heard everybody would look to see who was driving. John Doyle continued actively farming until about 1970 and up to then the business of the farm was in Dairying. The cows were milked and the milk put in the creamery cans for collection in the mornings. Mary Jo was the milker and it was only after her marriage and departure in 1972 that Bernie switched over to beef farming.

While John and Mary lived hens were kept for their eggs, and there was a grey donkey who loved nothing more than having her chin tickled and ears rubbed for hours on end.

Turf was cut on the Cashel bog, and here too the Doyles had a couple of fields that had been, apparently, reclaimed from the bog, a task undertaken by John. And hay was cut by tractor, but then gathered up and made into cocks by hand. When all was complete, neighbour John Kane was paid to collect it all and bring it into the shed for the winter.

The Doyles was a very popular house for visitors; indeed the only blight on long holidays there was the amount of callers - it sometimes felt I could never get my grandparents or aunt and uncle to himself! John was very deaf but this did not stop him playing the accordion for the amusement of visitors until just a few years before his death.

John was a quiet man who had been well read and had an interest in words. He loved to sit with me and tell me little stories or riddles, and he'd talk about local and family history matters, but of course I was too young and busy to listen. Mary was, perhaps, more fond of adult company and was not demonstratively affectionate to children. Interestingly though, she had something of a reputation as a local genealogist of sorts. When there was some doubt about who was related to who - an important question in an area in which local marriages were still very much the norm - Mary was often the one asked to explain the ancestry of the parties involved.

I think it safe to say that John and Mary contributed more than just their genes to my character.


[1] From birth I was known as Tommy, to distinguish me from my father, who was known as Tom. On 29th of September 1975, I started working in the Bank of Ireland branch in Donnybrook where one of the officials was a Tommy Homan. As soon as we were introduced, he announced there could only be one Tommy in the building, and that henceforth I was to be called Tom. This name stuck to me for the next 35 years in Bank of Ireland, so much so that only those who knew me before 1975 ever call me Tommy today, and now Tom is the name I prefer to be known by.