Our Farm Animals. Folklore from Co. Wexford

This early 20th century Irish folklore account details the animals found on a Co Wexford farm.  It is based on information supplied by Margaret Larkin of The Kyle, Gusserane in 1938.

Sheep shearing (source)
Sheep shearing (National Library of Ireland)
The horses, cows, cattle, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, ferrets, are the farm and domestic animals at home. The cows’ names are Rosemount, Whitney, Whelan, Carroll, Franco, Kelly, Sutton, Black, and Buzzer. When driving the cows home from the field, I say “chew up, chew up” and when calling the calves I say “suck, suck”. The cowhouse is a long slated building with a slanting concrete floor and a passage before the cow’s heads to enable us to feed them without being injured. It also has three doors and twelve separate stalls. It is called a byre. The cows are tied around the neck with a chain tie. In case of a roguing cow, she has to be tied from the horn to the fore leg. Some people tie them with jute ropes. St. Benedict’s medal is hung in our cowhouse so as to bring luck on the stock.
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Speckled Cow, Co. Galway (National Library of Ireland)
The horses names are: The Hunter, Bigbelly, Nellie Lyndy, Tom the Tug, Mollie Bawn, Fleshie, Castlewrath, Agadir, Brighter London, Kyle’s Son, Comet and Pollie. When calling the horses we say “come, come”. The stable is a slated building with a loft overhead, two half doors, and a shuttered window, with a sack and manger to feed the horses out of; the floor is paved and cemented; the horses are tied with a head collar. The fodder consists of hay, oats, and mangolds and they are bedded with barley, oaten or wheaten straw. The horses are clipped when the ploughing season comes or when they are housed for Winter and again in the Spring. The only famous horse we know of in this locality is Captain Stafford’s of Dunmain House, Co Wexford. He was able to jump a high iron gate with his owner on his back and a child under his owner’s arms. 
Horse and cart, Davidstown, Co. Wexford
Horse and cart, Davidstown, Co. Wexford
This account forms part of the Schools’ Folklore Collection, a large and important corpus of material, whose compilation occurred between 1937 and 1939.  This far-sighted scheme, run by the Irish Folklore Commission, saw over 100,000 schoolchildren collecting local folklore from their parents, grandparents and older members of the community.


1938 by Margaret Larkin, The Kyle, Gusserane, New Ross. Her informant was her father; her teacher Mrs Brigid Corish of Gusserane School. IFCS 871, 384-5.

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