The Floating Sandwich

This is a true story told to me by my Nana one day
One day while we were sitting by our little stream having lunch with our Nana, she was
reminded of a story that her grandmother, Ellen, told her back in the 1950s when she was
on her annual summer holiday with her, on a small farm in County Galway. Ellen’s story
would have taken place in the late 1800s when she was growing up.
Back then, food wasn’t as plentiful as is it now and nothing was wasted. Ellen was given a
homemade brown bread and butter sandwich every day going to school. She was getting
sick of having to have to eat the same thing every single day she went to school, but knew
that there was no other alternative. Her mother would not have taken too kindly to being
told Ellen didn’t want to have bread and butter anymore. Ellen and her sisters often got rid
of the lunch before they got home if they hadn’t eaten it, to avoid trouble. On her way
home from school one day, she threw the sandwich, which was wrapped in brown paper
into the Killoran river in Galway, which they had to pass on their way home from school,
near Ballylouge in East Galway. She knew that if she came home without the sandwich
eaten, she’d be in trouble.
What Ellen had forgotten was that today was washing day! All of the washing back then was
done by hand in a basin and then brought to the river to be rinsed. Ellen’s mother was busily
rinsing the clothes in the river when a familiar looking parcel floated towards her. She fished
it out and put it in the bottom of the washing basket and walked home. When Ellen and her
sisters got home their mother asked ‘Have you all eaten your lunch today?’ and they all
replied they had. This was Ellen’s second mistake of the day!
Later that evening, once they had finished all their chores they came in hungry for their
dinner, but none as hungry as Ellen, having missed her “sandwiches” that day. They all sat
down to their lovely warm dinner but Ellen’s plate was empty. Her mother came out of the
scullery with the soggy bread and butter sandwich, still wrapped in its brown paper and put
it on Ellen’s plate. No words were exchanged – there was no need. Ellen couldn’t decide if
her mother was more furious about the sandwiches or the lies! That was all Ellen was
allowed to eat that evening and believe it or not she did. It was meant to be a lesson –
“Waste not, Want not” and my great great grandmother learned her lesson. Ellen never
forgot that incident and my Nana has never forgotten the story. I don’t believe I ever will
either. You never know what’s around the next river bend!