Like most Irish mammies these women were tough! Women in Celtic society actually enjoyed a lot of freedom when compared to women of different societies. They could own land for one, and many actually had REAL POWER. If you remember the story of the brown Bull of Cooley you will remember that the heroine was a lady by the name of Queen Maedb of Connacht who was a warrior leader.
Not all women turned out like Maedb however, most women were in charge of the household duties such as cooking, cleaning, spinning wool, weaving cloth and bringing up children.
D’Unbelievables described the work of an Irish mammy in the countryside pretty well:
Jon Kenny (JK): Where’s me dinner?
Pat Shortt (PS): There’ll be no dinner this evening, your mother is not home yet!
JK: And where is she?
PS: She’s nailin down the last few sheets of galvanize on the cow house roof!…she’ll be at it a while!
JK: God Almighty she’s at that all morning. You’d swear she had somethin’ to be doing! Only milk the 30 or 40 cows, take the milk to the creamery, come back, wash out the churns. clean out the calf house, feed the pigs, then clean out the hen house, then pull the stones in the top field, then fence the top 3/4 of the 4 acre field and then hang a gate down at Danny Maloney’s bend!…..is she eatin’ proper?
PS: Ah ya..she is slowin alright!
But, and this is the big BUT! Men still dominated society during this time. The father was master of his own household and it wasn’t that uncommon for noblemen to have more than one wife! Children of noble families were fostered by other families who were charged with training the child to develop the skills they would need as an adult..kind of like what was happening also in the middle ages!
What was Celtic food like?
Food was produced on the farms where cattle, sheep and pigs were kept. Some cattle were killed in the Autumn and salted so they were preserved for the winter months. Cows produced the usual, milk, butter and cheese.
Wheat, Oats and Barley was grown and were used to make bread, porridge and ale which was drunk at feasts!
The grain was ground in a new invention called the Rotary Quern which replaced the saddle stone. The meat was cooked on spits and also the fulucht fiadh and the bread was baked in stone ovens
So there you have it, Celtic women were strong independent women. They had a lot of freedom compared to women of other tribes, but they were still tasked with household duties. Still…tougher than the thorniest of wire!!
For more on Celtic society, keep it here at The Áed