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  • A Natural Order
    A Natural Order

Life in times past followed a natural order. The ‘sustainability’ we search for today was a simple fact of life. Food was local, seasonal and produced without artificial fertiliser, pesticides or herbicides.

Consumption was limited. Most waste was compostable. There was no plastic. Houses were built of local materials and they ‘fitted’ the landscape because they were shaped from it. Furniture was locally produced and had a simplicity which we envy today.

Who can afford handmade clothes and shoes now? Yet this was the norm, especially for poorer people. It is ironic that as we have become richer, we seem to want the things that our less well-off grandparents and great grandparents took for granted!

Bhí ord nádúrtha leis an saol fadó. Ba chuid shimplí den saol a bhí san ‘inbhuanaitheacht’ a bhíonn á lorg againn inniu.

Bhí bia le fáil go háitiúil, bhí sé i séasúr agus táirgeadh é gan leasachán saorga, lotnaidí nó luibhicíde. Ní raibh bia

fairsing. Bhíothas in ann formhór den fhuílleach a chur i dtalamh arís. Ní raibh aon phlaisteach ann. Tógadh tithe le hábhar as an áit agus d’fheil siad don tírdhreach mar gur ón tírdhreach a múnlaíodh iad. Rinneadh an troscán go háitiúil agus bhí simplíocht ag baint leis, rud a mbeadh an-tóir air inniu. Cé atá in acmhainn éadaí agus bróga lámhdhéanta a cheannach inniu? Ach b’shin é an saol, go háirithe do dhaoine bochta. Is barúil an scéal é cé go bhfuilimid níos saibhre anois, tá rudaí uainn anois a bhí ar a dtoil ag ár seanmhuintir agus a muintir rompu nach raibh leath chomh rachmasach is atá muidne!

‘Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion

has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening’

Coco Chanel

‘Ní i ngúnaí amháin a fheicfidh tú faisean. Tá faisean sa spéir, ar an tsráid, baineann faisean le smaointe, an

chaoi a mairimid, an méid atá ag tarlú’

Coco Chanel

Today, children enjoy quite a long ‘childhood’ but that was not always the case.

Sa lá atá inniu ann, bíonn ‘óige’ sách fada ag gasúir ach ní mar sin a bhí an scéal i gcónaí.

One thing which all children have in common is the pleasure they take in play and in toys.

Baineann chuile ghasúr sult as a bheith ag spraoi agus as bréagáin.

In the 21st century, gender-equality is pushing the boundaries of what play means to a new generation of children and their parents.

Sa 21ú haois, tá an comhionannas inscne ag dó na geirbe agus an bhrí atá le súgradh do ghlúin nua gasúir agus dá dtuismitheoirí.

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Childhood WorkA Natural Order

Life in times past followed a natural order. The ‘sustainability’ we search for today was a simple fact of life. Food was local, seasonal and produced without artificial fertiliser, pesticides or herbicides. Consumption was limited. Most waste was compostable. There was no plastic. Houses were built of local materials and they ‘fitted’ the landscape because they were shaped from it. Furniture was locally produced and had a simplicity which we envy today.

Who can afford handmade clothes and shoes now? Yet this was the norm, especially for poorer people. It is ironic that as we have become richer, we seem to want the things that our less well-off grandparents and great grandparents took for granted!

Their society was largely self-sufficient, producing its own food and supported by a range of specialist craftspeople. Skilled carpenters could produce anything from a butter churn to a wheel-car, like the one above your head, or finer work like the ‘apprentice pieces’ on display here. The blacksmith could shoe a horse or make a gate – he could even pull your tooth! Basket-makers collected sallies and rushes along the rivers to weave containers, creels for turf and eel traps. In the right hands, straw could be woven into hens’ nests, chairs or mattresses. There were skilled boatwrights too– look at the Davin Boat, built completely by hand.

In this current climate children and parents know all too well what it is like to ‘home school’ but at the beginning of the 20th century, for many wealthy families’ home schooling was very much the norm.

Petronell Grubb, a little girl from Cashel, was one of these home-schooled children. Petronell was born in 1908 in Cashel, Tipperary. She was the youngest of four siblings and was the only girl. She received her home schooling education from her Governess who followed a curriculum assigned by the ‘Parents National Educational Union’ (PNEU) in England.

The PNEU was founded by Charlotte Mason in the latter quarter of the 1800s and was the first ‘Home School’ organisation. She was also headmistress of the ‘House of Education’ which was a teacher training College. The parents of each child would pay a quarterly subscription and the curriculum guidelines would then be sent to the household via the post along with an exam at the end of the term. The completed exam would then be sent to England for grading and comment. The curriculum covered various subjects such as English Grammar, history, music, art, mathematics, sewing, singing, French and many more.

This curriculum was also quite unique in its ideologies. Charlotte Mason was of the opinion that each child should be treated as an individual and that it was important that the whole person was educated, not just the mind. The Children of the British Empire, which is what Petronell was, learned what it meant to be British and be part of an Empire. One of the PNEU’s core modules was entitled ‘Citizenship’ and gave the students the means to focus on what it meant to be British and to solidify their British national identity. The children born and raised in England had this status secure, but those living outside of England had certain pressures in regard to their British citizenship. The idea of being a ‘Good’ mother meant you had to send your children away to England to be educated, which was the case for Petronell’s three older brothers.

100 years previous to this, education for young girls from wealthy families was quite different.  It was assumed that young girls would go on to marry therefore extensive formal education was seen as non-essential and reserved for the males in the family. As long as the women could run the household, arrange flowers and play the piano to some degree- the need for schooling was unnecessary. Over the following years the increase in formal education for girls results in renewed demands for votes for women. The rest, as they say is history.

Pictured below is an example of some of her work. Unfortunately Petronell died on the 13th of October 1919 from Typhoid. She was aged 11 years. Why not pop into the Museum when we reopen to see some more of Petronell’s work, as well as some of her personal belongings- a great time capsule of the life of a wealthy young girl at the beginning of the 20th century.

 

One of our most popular displays here in Tipperary Museum is this late Victorian wedding gown.

It consists of a jacket and skirt and was worn by Eliza Fenton Downey. Eliza,originally from Cahir moved to Clonmel after she married. Her Husband owned a grocers in the present day location of Daly's Pub, Clonmel.

A lot of people ask the question ‘well, if it’s a wedding dress why isn’t it white?’

We live in the age of disposable clothing; we can pop into the high street shops or online and purchase whatever we require instantly. This was an era of fine dress making and tailoring for those that could afford it. Clothing was made to order. The idea of buying a dress and only wearing it once was completely foreign and absurd at the time. Clothing was used until it was worn out or until the fashions changed beyond the point of alteration. There is in fact evidence that this skirt was indeed altered and expanded at some point. More often than not, a woman got married in the best dress she already owned.

This resulted in such dresses being an array of different colours, so they could be worn again. The white wedding dress became a popular option after Queen Victoria wore white when she married Prince Albert in the 1840's. White was a hard colour to keep at that time so coloured dresses were more popular and far more practical particularly among the lower social classes. A very different situation than today!