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GUEST,Donal Strange words in Irish and Scottish songs (26) RE: Strange words in Irish and Scottish songs 23 Oct 11

I'm not sure where a couple of the previous posters got their information from, but in North Antrim where I grew up in the forties and fifties I never heard of a bleach green that had anything to do with the actual lint as opposed to the finished linen. That may have been the usage of the term in other areas but NOT in mine. The ponds where the lint was soaked were called 'dams' as they were usually damming an offshoot of a small stream or 'burn,' the lint in
sheaves 'beats' was left in there for some time to rot the hard outer part of the stalk in a process called retting. After that, in our area at least, the sheaves were taken out and stooked, (a number of sheaves together standing on end) still intact, for a period to let the water drain off. What good spreading it would have done I don't know, the outer layer was still so hard that it had to be torn off by a toothed machine in the scutch mill. Everything to do with the process of reaping, retting and scutching was hard and, yes, often smelly work. The reaping was the part of it that I was most involved with, the lint was pulled from the ground by hand, hard enough in itself, but often made worse by having been wetted by a shower before one started work, so naturally as the stalks were about three feet high, your clothes got very wet and uncomfortable. The pay for such casual work was not very high but it usually was enough for new shoes or something like that for the coming winter.

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