The Butterhouse,

a sequel to ‘The Inchigeela Cottage’


In this letter to the editor Fr. Gerard Creedon

relates his memories of ‘The Butterhouse’ in Inchigeela village.

‘The Inchigeela Cottage’ article appeared in the 2001 Journal,

written by Patrick McCaffery who’s people lived there at one time.





Dec 22, 2001


A Sheain Dhil,


‘Tadhg an dá thaobh’ used to be a derogatory expression, like someone who was walking both sides of the road. However I would like to ascribe the expression to you as a compliment. In your journal you have brought together both sides of the parish with stories from Ballingeary and Inchigeela.


I was always a bit uneasy with the nursery rhyme, "Eggs and rashers for the Inchigeela dashers, hay and oats for the Ballingeary goats". I assume you had a similar version west but the other way around. I was uneasy because my grandfather Con Creedon came from Ilauninagh, and that made me a quarter Ballingeary.


I was in the middle of liturgical and other preparations for the Christmas season when I received your journal from my sister-in-law Catherine Shorten Creedon and had to lay all aside to join Sean O h'Uigin agus é ag taisteal bothair mo dhuthaidh féin agus é ag cur síos go beacht , cruinniúl, ar cursai na Nollag taobh thiar d' Inse Geimhleach. Ach phreab mo chroí nuair a buaileas le "Inchigeela Cottage", an tigin aoil ban ar thon ár dtigh istigh.

Unlike Patrick McCaffrey I cannot go back to 1817 or 1821, since my memories of the Inchigeela Cottage only go back to the 1940's. Yet your article confirms rituals and legends that I thought were only part of my father Johnny Creedon's overly fertile imagination.


The Butterhouse


When we were growing up the cottage was called the Butterhouse. It was separated from the Post Office by the passageway into the mill. This passageway had corrugation in the cement deftly placed there by the great Scrahanmore builder Danny Hyde. It stopped the horses from slipping as they backed in for Viking Pig Ration, my father's original concoction. There each week Paddy Tim the Can would try to get his donkey and car to back in, refusing to believe the well-known fact that donkeys will not back. Not even the ‘cailithin’ in the rear moved the ass. Once Paddy was driven by the furies to bite the donkey's ear. Each week he would finish by untying the animal and sending her back home with a belt of the stick while he did the undignified task of carting the two hundred weight up the square himself. My mother never knew who was more stubborn, the donkey or Tim.

On the other side was a yard with a high galvanized gate. When the hurling ball disappeared over the wall it was gone for good. The yard connected the Butterhouse to Lil Ahearne's, but belonged to her. The best I can say is that she was not aging gracefully. However it always surprised me that she had a great scoraiocht every Sunday Morning after Second Mass. Fr O'Driscoll, Eugene Corcoran, Curly Riordan and sometimes Sean Corkery were regulars. Reddened by the glowing hob, the laughter that emanated from Lil's kitchen fuelled by boiling glasses of punch was not in character.


Jeremiah Cotter


The Butterhouse was the domain of our granduncle Jeremiah Cotter, the very man identified in your journal 2001, page 27. When I was a child I have memories of a great big churning barrel in the middle of the floor, operated by a Creedon woman from Rossmore. The water found a hole in the floor and the salty farmer's butter was laid out in a shelf by the side.


The Mill I remembered was also part of a butter and egg exchange. I imagine the exchange was less for money and more for grain and meal. The Inchigeela Dairy in Cork was the outlet and the lorries came home with maize and barley for the grinder. The outside room in the butterhouse was still used in my time for storage.


Jeremiah Cotter was the holiest man I ever knew. He was also a bit odd. There may be no contradiction between the two. He always had his meals with us for he never married. There were few male cooks in those times. His favourite expression was "Good, good, good!". He would clap after Seamas Ennis' dancers were finished on TV and once asked "Does he see us?" He took care of a vegetable garden and a cow. The cow died of surfeit from overfeeding. While Jeremiah could be sociable, he preferred the reclusive life. Only a few trusted friends were admitted to what we used to call the Summum Sanctum, his private quarters. Dan Jumbo was one of that privileged few. When I bought a bike, I protected it while away in boarding school from my nine brothers and four sisters by stowing it in Jeremiah's sanctum.


Patrick Mc Caffrey's article mentions that Jeremiah loved to pray before the fireplace for that is where Mass had once been celebrated. However, I often joined Mickey Cronin as we listened to Jeremiah pray out loud in his holy of holies behind a well-locked door. He would puctuate his loud prayers, in which he seemed to scold God for a variety of maladies, with negro spirituals and American gospel songs that he either learned form the radio or from the returned yanks. It was there I first heard "Give me that old time religion".


The night he died in the Butterhouse is forever etched in my memory. I had been privileged to share his care with my father the week before his death. We kept a coal fire going for the night for sterilization purposes as well as heat. There was a single bulb in the room. Connie Pa, Eugene Corcoran, Con Don and myself were already assembled when in arrived Curly Riordan at closing time. Jeremiah addressed us: "Light of Heaven to us all!" Maybe he was inspired by the electricity, or the way it shone on Curly's pate. Then he gave voice to his final words: "Don't give Curley any of it . He has enough of it". The "it" in question was a case of pint bottles of Guinness that was located strategically beneath the bed of the dying man. No notice was taken and all were supplied, the better to whet the tongue for stories about Brophy's cow going bogging and Jeremiah's facility with a twenty stone bag of bran. The stories gave way to singular decades of the rosary to the tune of the joyful mysteries. These would be concluded abruptly by Curly who had been a male nurse. He adroitly tested Jeremiah's breathing power with a mirror and more bottles were commandeered. It was the luck of God that Jeremiah expired at four am in the middle of a "Glory Be".


The 2001 Journal tells that "Butterhouse" was burned down around 1971. Shiela Dromey on seeing Tom Creedon removing the charred remains declared, "Tom, you are a great man for knocking things!" Well if he did, he replaced it with a store that resembles Lil Ahearnes, which is all that remains of the "Inchigeela Cottage", "The Butterhouse" and Jeremiah Cotter.


That is not true. The spirit of that white washed house and the faith and love that animated the Cotters and the Creedons, the Barrys, the Quills and the Mc Caffreys will follow us till our dying day.


May they have a bed in Heaven tonight. Air Dheis Dé go raibh a h anam.


Rev Gerard Creedon PP

Arlington Virginia, USA