Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sepia Saturday #190: Long before the Electric Picnic

We are fast approaching the end of August and the annual Irish music festival called The Electric Picnic. Although they may have had a singsong, the picnics pictured here were a long way from electric, but I am sure everyone enjoyed the simple pleasures of a picnic away from the work-a-day world in the company of family and friends.

In the first photo, with the men in suits and ties, the women in dresses, and their tea in china cups, they look as though they are having a lovely time. The small picnic basket belies the the full extent of what had to be packed for such a party. My mother used to laugh about how long it would take them to pack up such things as china plates, cups and saucers, forks, knives and spoons, and a primus stove for heating up the tea. All would be crammed into a large hamper and loaded into the boot of the car. A small basket such as the one pictured here might carry tiny sandwiches and small fresh baked scones with clotted cream.

You can almost hear the voices of the little ones in the second photograph shouting, 'Hurry up, take the photo, the sun is in our eyes'. When they were very young children my father Michael and his brother Patrick enjoyed many picnic trips and holidays at Rush with their Magee grandparents and Magee aunts, uncles and cousins. Although his grandfather Patrick Magee died in 1935, when my dad was only six, and his grandmother Mary Magee died in 1939 when he was ten, my father had wonderful memories of his time with them.

The third and fourth pictures are from the summer of 1949, the first year my mom Mary and dad Michael were courting. Mary was only just 18 and Michael was 20. Occasionally they would 'double-date' with Dad's brother Patrick and his girl. They enjoyed picnic trips to Glendalough, and to their favourite place of all, Ireland's Eye.

Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday Blog to see how others have been inspired by the theme photograph, and perhaps you'll be inspired too.

In the foreground my paternal grandaunt Mollie Magee Halpin; Mollie's husband Willie Halpin is pouring the tea. Behind Mollie is Willie's sister May Halpin Daly Barnwell. Next to Willie, the gent in the glasses is May's husband Dick Barnwell. The young fellow drinking his tea is one of the Barnwell sons. (1950s)
The large group of children in the foreground are Magees, with the exception of my dad Michael and his brother Patrick.
My dad is the little boy in the front far left, who looks as though he's being blinded by the sun.
Patrick is the little boy on the right who is turning away from the camera.
The adults shading their eyes are Mollie Magee Halpin and Willie Halpin.
The woman in the back far right is my paternal great-grandmother Mary Dunne Magee.
The man in the background wearing the hat is my paternal great-grandfather Patrick Magee.
(1934).
Michael (my dad), Mary (my mom), Patrick (dad's brother), and Patrick's then girlfriend whose name I do not know.
Altogether for a picnic at Glendalough.
(1949)
My beautiful mom Mary when she was only 18,
 taken that first summer at a picnic on Ireland's Eye,
the place that became one of their favourite spots for a picnic.

Copyright©irisheyesjg2013.

28 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos. They allow us a nice peek into times past!

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    1. Thanks Colleen! I especially love to look at photos of my parents when they were young.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. Great photos and I bet stove was behind the board you see in the first photo. Mary must have been a popular name in Ireland as my Mother was called that as well.

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    1. Thanks Bill! Bet you're right about the stove and you're definitely right about the name Mary. So far I have 26 women named Maria, called Mary, on my family tree, and one man whose baptismal name was Mary.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. Glendalough would be a lovely place for a walk, with a picnic to follow, and that's a beautiful photo of your mother too.

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    1. Thanks Jo! Glendalough is a beautiful place for a walk (and a climb as well), and I agree with you it is a beautiful photo of my mum, one of my favourites.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. Love the pictures, your mom would be about my mom's age, nice to see pictures of that era. Your mother was a very beautiful woman!

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    1. Thanks Rosie! My mom passed away last year on 14 May, one day after her 81st birthday (my dad died in 2000). They are both very much missed, so it's wonderful to have these photos of them. Hope all is well with your mom.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. I've been to Glendalough - what a magical place for a picnic.

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    1. Thanks Little Nell! It is indeed a magical place.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. I recall being concerned, when my husband & I were first married, about my in-laws going on long drives and picnics with cheeses and meats and other perishables packed into a simple wicker basket without any kind of cooling, so for Christmas that first year we gave them a nice attractive cooler packed with all sorts of picnic goodies. They used it whenever they came to see us, but I found out later they used the wicker basket all other times. Oh well. Somehow they survived. :))

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    1. Thanks Gail! I laughed out loud when I read your comment because I used to 'harass' my mom about the fact of picnic perishables, especially since when my brother and I were kids it seemed as though Mom wanted everything put into the refrigerator. As you say somehow they survived.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  7. My favorite is that second photo with everyone crowded up front shading their eyes, the willy nilly composition, the winding path off to the left and that building way off on the horizon. A great photo.

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    1. Thanks Helen! I love that photo too because in it my dad is such a little boy, only five years old. Whenever I look at it I think about the fact that his whole life was ahead of him and he knew nothing of it.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  8. I like the photo of your parents when they were still quite young, but no longer children.

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    1. Thanks Postcardy! Me too, and I like that my dad's older brother is in it. Patrick emigrated from Ireland less than 3 years after this photo was taken.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  9. It would be quite unusual to see someone pouring tea from a teapot on a picnic these days. Great collection of picnic shots, thank you.

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    1. Thanks Brett! So true, although it would be nice to see.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  10. When I first read your title I had so strange image of some kind of Facebook picnic via iPads in my mind. But such things could never compare with the real thing, as so admirably demonstrated by your selection of photos.

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    1. Thanks Alan! So true, and I'd much rather have a lovely old fashioned cuppa than an electric one.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  11. The tickets to the Electric Picnic seem quite expensive!

    Willie Halpins smile is very appealing.

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    1. Thanks Sharon! Too true, concert tickets are outrageous these days. Willie Halpin always had that smile and it well reflected who he was. He was one of the kindest, soft spoken, and gently funny gentlemen I have ever known.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  12. Picnics with china just sound so much nicer than ones with paper cups and plates --- well, until I got home and had the dishes to do. Still, seeing Willie pour the tea was very charming and old school. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks Joan! So true on both counts.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  13. I've just realised that I haven't seen one thermos flask in any picnic photo this week so the teapot tool me by surprise. Magical photos and even more magical memories, I'm sure.

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    1. Thanks Bob! The photos certainly are magical in my view. It's great to see my mom and dad when they were young and courting, and my dad when he was a very young child.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  14. Lovely photos Jennifer and very special memories. Everyone looks so relaxed even in their formal clothes...just shows picnics are good for our emotional health. I'd love to picnic at Glendalough...such a gorgeous place! The photo of your Mum at 18 is just gorgeous and so very precious.

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    1. Thanks Pauleen! I feel privileged to be the keeper of these images. My husband and I have recreated the picnic times at Glendalough; it is such a lovely place. The picture of my mom is indeed precious.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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