Christina Golden Biography (author of this web-site)
Christina was born the middle of seven daughters to Thomas Golden and
Teresa Langan in the family farm house in Doughlough (Dooclogh), meaning
two lakes, in Doonfeeny Upper townland, 2 miles west of Ballycastle,
Co. Mayo. Situated a few hundred yards from the rugged shoreline of the
Atlantic ocean, the single-storey house commanded a spectacular view of
Downpatrick Head with the mountains of Donegal rising up out of the
ocean in the distance. However, because of the obvious dangers, Christina
and her sisters were taught to fear the sea and stay away from the shore.
In addition to Christina's immediate family, the 3-bedroom farm house
without any inside plumbing, also had to accommodate her grandmother,
Bridget Golden (nee Forde), so the 7 girls all shared one bedroom.
The Golden family kept chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, cows, calves,
cats, dogs, pigs, and a beautiful chestnut mare that, unfortunately, didn't
like farm work. Her older sisters used to enjoy taunting the gander
until it would vent its anger on the much smaller Christina. The gander
persisted in chasing and pecking her until one day Grandmother
intervened and, Golden eggs or not, her goose was cooked, literally!
Christina lost her soother (dummy, pacifier) when she dropped it near a
duck that promptly swallowed it. The soother was eventually recovered
when she spotted it in the gizards of the hapless bird as it was being
prepared for dinner. Christina never used her soother again.
Her father grew barley, corn, potatoes, turnips, mangles (large root
vegetable), carrots, and other vegetables on the farm. When not at school,
Christina and her sisters were expected to help with the farm work. While
using a rake to turn the straw and hay in the fields, she would occasionally
uncover a bees nest. The established procedure was to quickly break off
the top of the nest with the rake and run as fast a possible to escape the
angry bees. Then, when the bees had dispersed, it was safe to return and
enjoy the honey. Another special treat would be finding a large mushroom
to cook on the coals of the fire. However, the ultimate delicacy was a fresh
lobster claw, generously donated by the neighbours from their occasional
lobster fishing trips, and cooked on the coals of the open fire in the kitchen.
One job that Christina enjoyed was chopping the mangles to feed to the
animals, but the task of operating the machine to make sugan (rope made
from hay) was rough on the hands and best avoided. The sugan was
needed to tie down the hay cocks in the fields.
After working on the farm all day, her father would sometimes make
night-time fishing trips in his curragh (an ancient style of boat native to Irish
shores built by sewing a tough skin of ox-hides over a light canoe-like
frame of wooden splints) to catch salmon, pollock, bream, mackerel or herring. The family would then gut and salt the fish to preserve them for food through the winter.
Apart from the usual farm produce, Christina's family also dined on home-made bread, black pudding (a sausage made from pigs blood, suet and seasonings) and white pudding (a large sausage of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal). Less palatable was the boiled carageen (Irish moss, a dark purple edible seaweed) which Christina's mother usually served to aid recovery from an illness.
The walk to school in Ballycastle was 2 miles in each direction, in all weathers, including a potentially hazardous river crossing. However, getting on the wrong side of the nuns who did the teaching could be even more hazardous!
As a young child, Christina spent much of her free time venturing off alone to visit relatives which, as there were no buses, could involve several hours hiking across hills, vales and streams to the other side of Ballycastle. She would join her family for the monthly Fair day in Ballycastle High Street where the farmers came to sell their produce. At the end of the day the men would go off for a "pint".
It was not until the family emigrated to Bristol, England that Christina, now a teenager, first enjoyed the luxury of indoor plumbing and only four girls to a bedroom. The needs of the growing family had forced her father to take a better paying job in the booming UK building industry.
After secretarial college, Christina worked her way up from office girl to
secretary to personal assistant while moving through various accounting
firms and finally, made a major career change to full-time mother of two
children. As her children grew older, she went back to college to
learn about computers and, more recently, she has been able to take on
part-time jobs including fashion modelling and medical counter assistant
at the local Pharmacy.
Christina's interests include walking (still!) and hiking, Irish culture and
history, music, gardening, decorating, keeping in touch with family and
friends via the internet and, of course, family history.
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