Big thank you from

Signs still enamelled in my memory

By The Rambler 8/12/00

I CAME on an old advertisement sign this week which reminded me of my boyhood days.

It was an enameled sign for Pierce of Wexford dated 1920, vividly coloured and eye catching.

Seven farm machines were featured. viz: a mowing machine, a turnip pulper, a potato sprayer, a wheeled plough., a rick-lifter, a self binder and a swathe-turner, all of which I remember well.

Pierce must have had a near monopoly in the Ulster market for their name plate was on almost everything around our farm and neighbours' farms as well.

I referred to a mowing machine, as the one pictured had a swathe-board on the end of the knife-bar.

With a tilting table in lieu, the machine become a reaper.

An ancient jingle - said - "Ten men went to mow a meadow, :' The same team could have gone to reap a field of grain with an identical machine, except for the tilting table which enabled the operator to deposit the mown crop in sheaves for the tiers.

The pulper, I recall, was used to pulp potatoes, as well as turnips and mangolds for cattle feed.

Occasionally a stone got mixed up with the potatoes and damaged the knife. 

If that happened when careless cubs were pulping there was hell to pay.

There is a pulper mounted on a plinth on the edge of the lawn of a house at Ballinderry lower cross- roads. (Is it at Ballinderry House?) which I believe is a 'pierce' model.

Seeing the potato-sprayer took me back to the era when a local farmer, James Moffett, hired out those machines.

The basics were a farm-cart with 'the boxins removed and a 60-galllon wooden barrel mounted on the chassis. There was a manually - operated pump attached to the barrel and four or five pipes, with nozzles, protruding to the rear, nicely spaced to spray two drills of potato plants at a time.


Blue stone and washing soda were dissolved and blended to make the spray.

When a field was treated the whole crop was dyed a bright blue and immune to blight.

James Moffett was kept on the move clearing the spray lines of his machines.

He was constantly on call on his bike as they regularly clogged up.
Are there any readers around ('ancient mariners') who remember the joys of hitching rides on the tail of a rick/shifter?

It was a large flat wooden vehicle with a windlass mounted on the fore-bar for loading ricks of hay intact, to convey them from the field (meadow) to the haggard.

If the nomenclature puzzles anyone, I can only suggest they invest in a dictionary of Ulster English (Oxford 1996).

Enamel signs were in vogue from the early 1800s and about 100 years ago the 'Patented Enamel Co Ltd' was turning them out by me million. They were superseded by plastic versions some fifty years ago. An enamel one on a road side was far better crack in my school days When pelted with stones, they rattled much better.

Yes! There were vandals around when school boys dawdling home from school were referred to as 'scholars' by the older generation, and farm machinery was horse drawn. But there was no graffiti.

Ulster Star