The O’Sullivans of Ballycleave, Killorglin were renowned for their basket-making for the years. Pat O’Sullivan’s grandfather passed on the craft to Pat’s father, who continued supplying baskets to the farmers for potato-picking and for carrying the turf, and to the fishermen for lobster-pots. As a young lad Pat (pictured) helped his father, and recalls the days he would spend preparing his baskets for the local farms in Cahirciveen and Killorglin. He told me they would travel to the edge of the river near Castlemaine, to collect the sallies for the rods. Pat proudly described the technique of basket-making, and showed me samples of his work, explaining how he could get different colours into the rods by skimming them. Pat suggested that I should travel the short distance down the road to the old family home, where I would meet his brother John, which I did.
I arrived at the farm of John O’Sullivan, who brought me to the old thatched stone-built cottage which had been the home of Sean O’Sullivan, his father. He described to me the types of baskets he would make, including the puckeen, which was used to cover the calf’s mouth, turf-baskets, pigeon carrier baskets and picnic baskets. John’s own interest lies in the farm, and in growing cabbage, which has a widespread reputation for its excellent taste. This would be taken to fairs as far away as north Cork on a regular basis. People generally around Ballycleave were always better off because they could rely on cabbage growing and the turf cutting. People would come in their horses and carts, and later in their lorries, to collect the turf and the cabbage from the farmers.
Keywords: Ballycleave, village, Killorglin, basket making, crafts, community, basket weaving, thatched cottage, vernacular architecture, Fairs and markets, cabbage, turf cutting