Tom Stokes was a tinsmith by trade and remembers the old days singing at fireside gatherings with relish. Still blessed with a strong voice, Tom remembers and still sings many of the old songs. Tom and his wife, Mary, were married for almost sixty years before she sadly passed away in 2014 and they reared nineteen children. He was eleven years old when he started singing in the campfire sing-arounds, he remembers, and learnt many of his songs from his mother, who was a great singer, and also from two of his aunts on his father’s side. With a drop of tea brewed in a can over the fire and no other entertainment except the conversations and songs, the sessions would go on into the early hours of the morning. It’s fifty years since he left the travelling life behind to settle but Tom says he’d still love to go back to the old ways again, to take his pony and spring cart and take off to the road. He remembers the caring, generous nature of the travelling community in those days.
We had no such thing as a watch or a clock or no radio or anything, there was just the old campfire outside and there may be a wee drop of tea made in a wee can […] and we made our own entertainments.