Diary of Jane McClure

The following has kindly been provided by James Kernohan, a family member. It is believed that Jane was in fact a Sunday School teacher at the church. It gives us a fascinating insight into daily life into the area in the 1902/1903 period.

4th August 1902

It has become fashionable in our family to keep a Diary, take notes and write poetry. So having a strong notion that I can do anything any other body can do I have gathered up a book; what to put in it is the next question. I have waited for some great event to happen to start on but nothing has come so I’ll just begin. I can’t find any subject grand enough to make into poetry or of course I would do it (but in the meantime I must go and put in the pig.)

It is easier getting up from your writing in this house than getting down again and my poetry will be well mixed with prose I was reading the other day, (that sounds very literary) of a lady asking Annie what was meant by the poetry of life. She concluded after thinking it over that it was all the nice pleasant things that happened every day, little and big, and I suppose all the funny things too the question is if I write down all the nice things I meet, when my book is full will I have written a volume of poetry?

The first nice thing I met today was a nice morning, if I had been very anxious about it I might have met it an hour or two sooner that I did too; but then I was having a nice sleep and pleasant dreams-that’s two or three nice things. One of the funny things was clocking duck that I had lost for two or three weeks appeared with two chickens at her tail. That was fun to me but I don’t think they were enjoying it and I think the poetical past was too deep for the duck, she looked rather perplexed over it.

We had a rhubarb dumpling for dinner and go up seven ricks of hey which was all the nice things I can remember.

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August 5th

Another dry day and I hadn’t to go out so I washed the floor and had a general clean up and put oilcloth round the parlour; it looks very well. Uncle David was up and helped to mow the fourth meadow, Pat was over helping them. I believe Aunt Rebecca has been lying these two days; that is not very poetical or pleasant either. Nothing funny happened today, I read David Copperfield over again.

August 6th

Was wet and I got a pair of trousers and a petticoat patched and some other odd jobs done and I went to see Aunt Rebecca. She is not much better and is worse than I thought and is afraid it is influenza. I’m sorry for her lying sick and not having herself to attend her for she is the only one that can do it right. Pancakes for my tea was about all all the nice things I got today.

August 7th

A dark dull day and I had twice to churn and was very busy. I heard at dinner time that the Dr had been up twice to see Aunt Rebecca, she has influenza and I can’t help thinking she won’t get better. She is just one of the people you would think couldn’t be wanted and I have come to think they seldom get better. Poor Grandma is in great trouble and no wonder. I was down before dark and the thought her better. If she lives as I hope she may I think it will be good for them all and herself aswell for she had got to have the whole care of both inside and out. Somebody else will have to take it now for a while and maybe they’ll learn to keep it and stop growling at one another. David was up from home to hear from her and likely Ma will come tomorrow. We had new potatoes for our dinner and they were very bad.

August 8th

Was up at quarter past six and fed the hens and pigs and put calves milk on to warm and went to the byre; came in and strained the milk, made the breakfast and ate it and fed the calves, put on a pot of water and a fire and swept the floor and went down to see Aunt Rebecca: took Grandma the two chickens that the Duck brought out to put along with three that she had. Aunt Rebecca is improving and had a better night. She gave me share of her medicine (which gave me a headache and a bad stomach that didn’t get better till I ate a good plate of Rhubarb Dumpling at dinner time). After I came home I went up the back leaning to look if I could see the ducks next and gathered strawberries a while. When I came home I washed the dishes and drooked a bucket of meal and put more water onto warm. Then started and spring cleaned my bedroom and washed the floor and baked the dumpling for the dinner and put it on to boil. After that I lifted the upper room carpet and laid it on the hedge to sun and took out the bed as well and swept and dusted and pulled till I broke a leg of the bedstead which ended cleaning until I got help. So I left it and dished up the dinner and called Pat for his and we ate it. After this I had half an hour at David Copperfield. Then I cleared up the table and fed the sow and pigs and dogs and drooked more meal and put on a fire for the gridle and went out and turned the bed tick and shaked and beat the carpet. Then came in and washed my face and put on a clean apron and baked the bread before I had done George up, he had brought Ma the length of Grandmas, so I baked a gridle of pancakes and we tried putting strawberries in them but it was not a success. Put on the kettle when I had done and made the tea and drank it, got Pat’s ready for George to take out and cleared up the table. Next I went out and let out the pig and got a piece of a rafter and sawed it to make a bed foot, proped up the bed and brought in the sheets and made it up. Put on another pot of water and a fire and then Ma came in so I sat down and rested for half an hour then we went out to see the garden and the pigs and went away up to the see the cattle near Mrs Crawford and wandered around a while and came home again., rested a while longer and went down to Grandma’s. Stopped with Aunt Annie in the hayfield awhile and then went in I went up to see Aunt Rebecca and she was keeping better so I came away. When I came home I fed the hens and pigs and put on more fire and brought in the carpet, the rain came on as I came in. Drooked more meal and put on water for John’s tea and laid the table, put on calves milk to warm and when it was warm put on the supper then helped to feed the calves and made the supper and went to the byre. Came in a strained the milk and emptied the supper brought in sticks for the morning and forgot to bring water. Supped my porridge and put in the ducks and pigs and read the Witness till bed time.

Now whether that’s prose or poetry is more than I can tell. It was all brave and nice and nothing went wrong but if I had to write them all down every night I would wear in to doing less, for it is a good while past my bed time now and I’ll maybe not start the next day so early. I should have had fed the hens and ducks and chickens and turkeys and chickens and ducks and hens… mixed in between every two or three jobs.

August 9th

I didn’t half sleep after writing so late last night so i’ll make less do tonight. Nothing particular happened I was down in the morning to see Aunt Rebecca she had been very ill all night but has been batter all day. I washed the runlets and laid the carpet.

March 1903

Well I did not stick to my journal long; kept it for two r three days and then stopped it for six months. It wouldn’t be easy it join it up sensibly now for there isn’t anything to start on. It was summer then and it is winter now or spring. We have had some snow storms and some wind storms and have gotten our house badly stripped. There have been births, deaths and marriages and other changes. William D Maxwell has died and left Annie a widow which is the saddest thing that has happened in our connections. Mrs Kennedy has died too and will be badly missed but if any of us had lived as good a life we might be ready to die-for she has been my ideal of a good woman since I had the sense to know her and old age needn’t be dreaded if it was as pleasant and cheerful as hers was; and I suppose it might be for she had no more blessing outwardly than other people, only she took everything that came to be right and a blessing; We have had a mission in Ballyhill and a great a revival that has done much good and another in Stonyford as well; and an election that threatened to stir up strife and bad feeling but has been got over and people are beginning to come round again.

I read an advertisement in home notes about two months ago of a Professor Adkin who professes to have discovered a new means of curing disease which he has named Vitaopathy. I don’t know wat it means but he professes to cure at any distance, sometimes with and sometimes without medicine along with the Vetaopathic treatment. I was very curious about it and wrote for his advice and he sent me a journal of testimonials and a book and guaranteed to cure my hand in a months time for a guinea. If the testimonials and the half of what he says is true it is a great discovery and I was naturally very anxious to try it being so much upset that I could think of nothing else in the day time and dream about it at night. I showed it to Aunt Rebecca but she wasn’t hopeful and said his portrait looked devil looking and that all the patients were a bad looking set, which cooled my courage a bit. But after shedding a few tears of disappointment I read them open again and decided that I couldn’t settle down contentedly without giving it a trial that she looked at it from a different point of view and didn’t realise the grand benefit of a cure; which does seem too good to be true. I filled up the order and sent it on Friday anyway. Hit or miss and dreamed that night that he sent a man over to me who gave me a bit of something like a bad pencil to hold in my hand and wrought some mummery over me and gave me a pill and then went off without telling what more to do; and I wasn’t a bit the better. I was very downhearted all day after it and looking over the books again I found that all the testimonials are dated a year ago and I am afraid that if it was so very wonderful there would have been more word of it before this time. My money is away now anyway and I’ll have to take my chance, I only hope he can do me no harm a thing which I never took into consideration at the first but though it seems impossible at such a distance (for he lives in America) yet it is no more impossible that to do good.

April 9th

Well I had an answer from the Prof. And he is to commence treatment tomorrow. I am to go into a dark room and lie down and think about nothing but the cure that is to take place, for twenty minutes “at a time convenient for me”, which is the greatest object to my faith in a cure, for if he had set the hour I could have believed in it more, but maybe he’ll have the ‘power’ turned on all day. It sounds a bit comical to do such great things and looks a bit like as if it was all imagination but time will tell if it doesn’t tell well it needn’t tell many that’s one comfort buts it is a poor one and I’ll be badly disappointed if I feel no difference.

April 17th

I see no apparent results of the treatment yet and can’t always feel very enthusiastic over it, which is one of the directions. But he will surely not fail me when he has cured so many. Yesterday was Easter Monday and David and Maggie and Rebecca and I were invited up to Mr J Anderson’s to go to Divis. The ground was white when we got up in the morning but the snow soon melted and the day was bright and cloudy so we went. And we got to the top though we had to sit down in shelter about half way from a snow shower. It is a good long walk but wasn’t as big a job as I expected and was well worth the trouble. There is a fine view of Belfast and the Cave Hill and Belfast Lough out to Blackhead on the one side (as we supposed) and past Bangor. On the other we could see the quay and the boats very plain and the Shankill Road. Then to the right you can see Strangford Lough and on round to Lisburn and beyond towards Moira and on to Lough Neagh with Rams Island and Poetmore Lough. Budore Hill looks like a wee round hump. We ought to have seen round to Forescore but it wasn’t so clear that road and there was a strong cold wind in our faces. Besides we went first to the far side and sat down in shelter to rest and by the time we had kooked and rested a while a great snow shower came on, the worst of the day and it grew foggy and dark that we couldn’t see far. We sat till the snow went over, but the mist didn’t clear so we had to come home without seeing any more. Divis is very rough on the top and weatherworn looking as if great floods had worn it out into tracks and gulley. There is a cairn of stones on the top with a post like for a flagstaff in it. I could have stayed longer if the weather had let us and would go back very fast. There were eight of us went. We had a good evening when we came back. Though it was more like Christmas than Easter and snowed on us the whole road home. The ground was white this morning but it has turned to rain and rained nearly all day and the down rain is coming in finely where the thatch was blown off.

April 25th

Well I have been using the cure for a fortnight now and I do believe I am improving I reached that conclusion today and have been on my tiptoes ever since. Won’t it be grand if it is true and I can recommend it to other people. Ma was up this week but I haven’t told her yet, and won’t till I see how I come on.

Margaret and Jeannie McClure

Photograph taken at the wedding of
Margaret McClure (extreme right).
She emigrated to Canada.
The lady second from right is Jeannie McClure.
Copy kindly provided by members of the family

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