Biddy Collins, Dublin
Biddy was born in Mullingar to a family of five brothers and three sisters. Losing her mother when she was six years old, Biddy spent much of childhood on the road with her father and siblings. Some of Biddy’s favourite memories come from this time living on the road. Travelling the whole of Ireland, she remembers living in tents and caravans and singing the old songs at the fireside. These songs would mostly be sung at gatherings at special times of the year, such as Christmas or weddings. Biddy’s father used to sing to her and this is where she learnt many of her songs from.
As a young person, Biddy remembers working on the fields picking turnips. She describes her father as a talented tinsman who was very good with his hands, making buckets, and corrugated iron. Following in the family trade, her brother James now lives and works making copper buckets. Biddy met her husband when she was travelling on the road, marrying at 17. They left the road when she was aged 22, spending 7 years living in England before moving back to a house in Ireland.
Biddy describes living on the road as a very special time in her life. She says that times have changed but the old songs take her back to some of her fondest memories. Biddy would sing to herself as a child from as young as eight or nine. When asked ‘what does it remind you of when you sing those songs’, Biddy says:
Ah, sure you’d think of years ago wouldn’t you. You think back to the good days. The good homely days […] different times […] good old memories