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‘I’m sorry, it’s only creamery butter.’

MY mother used to apologies to guests at certain times of the year if she had only creamery butter

Compared with `the real McCoy', that is home-made country butter, the creamery product, which was relatively pale and bland in taste, ranked inferior.

During the war when I was fire-watching in Belfast one night in the HQ of the establishment which employed me, that was around the time of the German bombing raids, I shared my sandwiches with a city bred colleague. At the first bite his face lit up.

"Real country butter" he exclaimed, "Boys, it's years since I last tasted that. It is lovely."


Cows in calf tended to 'go dry' at this season and milk got scarce on farms. Neighbours helped each other over the shortage, and having to have recourse to creamery butter was rare. How things have changed! Although I was reared on it, I now give country butter displayed for sale a wide berth.

The bewildering array of dairy produce on super­market shelves reflect the progress which has been made by the food industry in the last half century.

  I have a nice wee story about country butter which I must tell you. Between the wars various old codgers knocked around rural areas on the scrounge.

  One such character, who was fond of the bottle, used to frequent a wee shop above Sales' Corner. The owner, an elderly lady, had a peep-hole from her living room to keep an eye on her stock.


She suspected 'oul Jammie' of 'nucking; things and one hot day she spied him lifting half-a- pound of butter, which was done up in the shape of a shallow pudding dish, placing it on the crown of his head and replacing his 'paddy hat.'

She decided to teach him a lesson and when he purchased his box of matches, or whatever was his excuse, she began mothering him. She quizzed him about what he had had to eat and talked soft. Then she asked him would he sup a bowl of broth. He demurred, but she wouldn't take 'No' for an answer. It was "nearly on the boil and wouldn't take a minute."

She made sure it took a very long minute and when she gave it to him she remarked "That's boiling, you may fan it with the peak of your cap," a local quip. To cut a long story short, very soon melting butter began to ooze down from Jammie's hat. He bolted, and as he left he shouted "Broth sometimes affects my bowels, I'll have to run home."

Ulster Star