Padlocks

Jesus that man Goode had a thing about padlocks. By the day he came to sell, when was it you came, 1998, there was not a door in the place that did not have its own padlock. By that time he had finished working and he had time to be here a month or six weeks over the summer. When they were here they spent most of the time at The Cottage and I heard him say, ‘The longer you are here the less reason there seems to be to go anywhere else.’

But when they left for a time then every door and gate had its own padlock and was shut up against the world.

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I had heard it that it started when he first bought the place from Mrs Rachel Leigh-White. Now she’d had it since 1945 and had bought it off a family called Boyle. She bought all of the land and then it was called Reenacapaul and it included The Butter House across the road and Jack’s Cottage down the road there and some of the fields that run up to the back. The Boyle’s used to farm them and they kept some cows. Mrs Rachel Leigh-White sold bits off over the years but she always kept The Butter House and there was a Mrs Boyle, who had been a daughter of the family, she lived there and she kept house for The Cottage.

Inside The Cottage there was feck to live on, there was no proper water or electricity and nothing to make your food on. I believe that Mrs Leigh-White liked the idea of her living rough knowing that Mrs Boyle was just across the road there to bring her her food. Feck it must have wet when it was raining and Mrs Boyle had to walk across the road keeping some plates warm for the lady.

And if Mrs Leigh-White was away then Mrs Boyle would look after the place and then there was no need for padlocks and there wasn’t a house here that had any sort of lock on its door.

But then there was a week when Mrs Leigh-White was away in Cork to sign papers and Mrs Boyle was called away into Bantry for a few days. She came back to open the place up and let in some air and there was a man asleep in one of the beds. She left him snoring and came up here for a man to sort him out. They woke him with a shout but they were gentle with him.

He was Mad Tom Tobin, he was one of those men who walked the roads back then, they would stop for a while in a place and play some music on a whistle and that might give them some beer and a shed to sleep in before moving on to the next place and after a few days they’d be off and it’d maybe they’d be back the following year.

Tom had been up in Kilcrohane for a few days and was then making the walk on to Durrus. He said the rain had come down and to get out of sleeping in a ditch he’d slipped through the front door into the empty place and it had been so many years since he’d seen a bed that he got into that. Well he went on his way and the sheets were cleaned and that should have been it.

But Mrs Boyle started to worry on those other times she’d been in Bantry for a night and Mrs Leigh-White had been away and the place had been left for the night and the different turns in the sheets on the beds after she was back.

She kept quiet on it but on her next trip to Bantry she bought a padlock for the door by the kitchen for those nights when she was gone. She must have told something to Mrs Leigh-White because she was dead by the time the place was sold. But John Goode would say that he had been warned about unauthorised visitors and he’d warn that it was best to keep a lock on the place.

But over the years he would worry on that story from Mrs Boyle and the man who had crept in and slept in one of the beds. He would think that if that could happen over a few nights people were away from the place what liberties could be had when there was no-one  for two months. So he was down at Wiseman’s buying more padlocks. He had so many that the bedrooms themselves had a lock on the door. All that for the one night that Tom Tobin wanted to keep out of the rain.

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