Living in Interesting Times

Ellen Sammin was born in Carramore, Louisburgh on the 10th of April 1912, two days before the Titanic sank. She was the youngest child in a family of seven, four boys and three girls. Her parents were Patrick and Bridget Sammin. The Louisburgh she grew up in seventy years ago was a bit different from the Louisburgh we know now. It was an agricultural town where nearly everybody earned their living on the farm and the Sammin family was no different. They had an average farm for their time although today it would be considered small. Everyone in the family had to help out on the farm. Ellen’s jobs were to help feed the cattle and to collect the eggs each morning. She also helped save the turf in the summer. It was a hard life and work went on around the clock although the earnings were not great. The Celtic Tiger obviously hadn’t been born yet!

When Ellen was sixteen she got a job in one of the shops in town. Although the pay was not great, she was glad of the job because it gave her a chance to meet people and exchange news and gossip! The fair day was a day she really looked forward to. Not only was it a day for buying and selling, it was also a day for meeting people whom you might not have a chance to meet at other times. It was actually on such an occasion the she met her future husband, Thomas Gibbons.

In 1939 World War Two or “The Emergency” broke out. Rationing was the hardest change to get used to. They had to eat less than usual and some foods could not be got at all. Ellen can remember one incident very well. She was carrying a tin of tea into the house when she dropped it and split the tin in half. Although she managed to pick up most of the tealeaves she still got a severe giving out to. She made sure to be a bit more careful in future. She also remembers that at night some if the neighbour’s would call around to the house. They would listen to the wireless for a while and then they would discuss the day’s events. She was relieved when the war ended in 1945.

A year later Ellen married Thomas Gibbons. She moved to Cloonlara. Thomas owned a small farm and as she had been living on a farm already she settled in easily enough. In 1948, she gave birth to their first child, a fine healthy boy and they called him John. She loved being a mother and wife and was very content having her own home to look after. They became a very popular couple and started holding weekly card-games. The couple had five children in all, two boys and three girls.

In 1955 the Rural Electrification Scheme came to Killeen and they were one of the first families to have it installed. It was the biggest change she had seen in her life and it certainly took a while to get used to. In 1973 Thomas died. Ellen was now a widow but she coped admirably. In 1981, she made her first trip abroad to visit her sister Mary in Boston, U.S.A. She remembers well her first trip on an aeroplane. She was somewhat reluctant to board the plane at all. But once she was in the air, she forgot her fears of flying as she looked down on all the tiny people below.

She really enjoyed her visit and thinks that everybody should make a trip abroad at some stage in their lives. She has been back to the States a few times since.

At present Ellen is living in Cloonlara with her son, his wife and their three children. She is eighty-six and has never smoked or drank in her life. It just goes to show that resisting the temptations in life has its reward.

Comments about this page

  • Elen sammon is my great aunt. It was such a joy finding this article and all this information as I was born in england and know very little about my Father (Dermot Sammon – Elen’s nephew)’s side of the family. Elen would now be 111 years old!

    By Maria Beadell (08/07/2023)

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