Keara O'Malley

Born 01.05.1715 in Dùn Bheagain on the Isle of Skye
Daughter of Thomas o’Malley of Árainn (Ireland, nowadays called Inis Mhór) and Deirdre macMillan of Skye
One brother: Rhonán o’Malley, born 1710
Married in 1744 to blacksmith Aodhán [OOGH an] macBran, born 1715

My father was an Irish skipper, together with his brother Matthew. From their island of Árainn in the Bay of Galway they sailed to Cornwall, Wales, Scotland.
They rather didn’t go to England because “you don’t trade with the English”. But well…sometimes you just have to make some money… And they could make fairly good money with their homemade, illegally distilled whiskey.
In 1705 they were shipwrecked off the coast of Skye, where the local people took care of them.
The Irish brothers liked the place they were stranded and when my father met Deirdre macMillan he didn’t want to leave anymore.
In 1707 Thomas and Deirdre were married and in 1710 my brother Rhonán was born. He lived, which made my parents very happy, because they already had two stillborn children. I had two more older brothers, but they both died of the fever when I was very young.
Thomas and Matthew had started their own beer brewery, which is now taken over by my cousins, Matthew’s sons Fearghus and Aengus. And that illegal whiskey I told you about…is still being made.

My brother Rhonán inherited our father’s love for the horizon. When he was still a lad it was already clear he wouldn’t stay at the brewery. He’d rather go to sea with the local fishermen, although he wanted to go farther away.
Nowadays he’s working on the big ships that go from Inverness to the North: the Netherlands, Greenland, Scandinavia. Although he has come back safely every time, thank the Lord, and he brings back nice things and beautiful stories I’d rather have him at home of course.

As I was brought up at a brewery, I had to work there as well. But the things I had to learn most were of course the skills a woman needs to keep a good household. This included counting and dealing with money as well, not only for the brewery but my parents wanted me to find a good craftsman for a husband as well.

I try to earn some money on the side with spinning, as the weavers always need spun wool which they buy from the local women. My mother and her mother did this already, so naturally I joined them.
When you can spin good, strong threads you get more money of course, because they can use that for the warp of the cloth. The somewhat lesser threads they can use as weft yarn.

My father Thomas had a flute and a bodhrán and he was always playing or singing songs. Most of the songs were Irish, because even though he had found a good new life on Skye, he still missed his home island Árainn.
I have learned to play the flute but I’m not half as good a musician as he was. Which is a pity, because I really miss the music now that he has passed away.

Blacksmith Aodhán macBran is doing a lot of work for the brewery. The hoops of the barrels have to be good and solid, as well as the carts.
I have met Aodhán many times as he was at the brewery for business or when I had to go to the smithy to pick up items that he had repaired.
And he is a nice guy…although a blacksmith is always dirty! But when Aodhán asked my father for my hand in marriage I did not have to think long.
A good blacksmith has a lot of work, earns good money and therefore makes a for good husband, so everything was settled quickly. Last year we were married.
So nowadays I am a blacksmith’s wife and I have to learn how to do my part at the shop. This means I have to learn many new things, but I’m eager to learn everything I can. I can take good care of the household, that I did learn very well and luckily he likes the food I make.
Because my mother always told me: see to it that you keep his stomach happy, to keep your husband happy!

Crafts: basic knowledge of the medicinal use of herbs, sewing, working wool, cooking