Thursday, 25 October 2007


Way back in June 1990 I informed my family that we would be moving to an island in Ireland. Fortunately my husband agreed, and we moved at the beginning of September. Before leaving I bought loads of underwear and socks for everyone, as there was no electricity on this island and therefore no washing machines or tumble driers.
I bought white socks for all five children (aged 12 years down to 5 years at that time)

Now, apart from no electricity, this island had no plumbing and no roads. Plenty of mud, though! Welly-boots were standard outdoor footwear, and they frequently filled with samples of boggy liquids. Once worn, the white socks rapidly changed colour. Wash-day was a nightmare until I got used to it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Water was carried from an outside storage tank, heated over an open fire, then poured into a tub made from a cut-down plastic barrel. Soap and wash-board cleaned some of the items, but the jeans needed the addition of the kind of scrubbing-brush usually utilised on floors. I used to be in such a bad mood that the kids vanished from the house - only to return with grass and mud stains (and worse, there were free-range cows on the island!) all over their clean clothes.

In good summer weather I could dry the clothes well - but we quickly ran out of water (the storage tanks filled from the roof when it rained.) In the winter we had plenty of water - but short wet days meant it was hard to dry the washing. Great fun!

Now we live back in "civilisation" I really enjoy my automatic washing machine and my tumble drier - but I must say that I don't enjoy the electricity bills!


Maggie said...

That's amazing! I can't imagine it. I only have two little ones and having to wash all of their clothes by hand seems a daunting task!

Colin Campbell said...

Not just wash, but dry. My mum used to wash all the nappies and hope for some dry weather, which is pretty rare in Scotland. I remember her struggling with the mangle. Getting a washing machine was a big step up and then a separate spin dryer. Luxury. Where are you in Donegal. My God Father was Derek Hill, who owned a very nice house in Churchill, which is now a state building. I was christened there and spent a number of holidays in Donegal. I always enjoyed the bleak landscape and Errigal when it was not cloudy or wet.

Dragonstar said...

Jamflam, I don't think I could have done it with younger children. Some friends stuck it for 2 years, starting with boys of 2 + 4, and a new baby girl. Much too much like hard work for me!

Dragonstar said...

Colin, I'm in Dungloe. Pass close to Churchill whenever I go to Letterkenny to shop.