BAND’S SPECTACULAR EVENT: C A Parish event to surpass all Parish events took place in the St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band bandroom on Sunday last. Among many various awards being issued to some worthy recipients, we heard 96 year old Paddy Casey play the drums alone and then with the band itself and could he ever play! Paddy also looked very well and to say he did have a fine strong handshake! A column such as this could in no way do justice to this spectacular event, so keep an eye out for a proper update with pictures in a week’s time or more, and to think 1885 was when it all began. Talk about tiny acorns growing!
MAE ON RADIO AND AT ABSOLUTE: C Just a quick reminder that Mae Leonard will read at the Absolute Hotel in conjunction with the Abbey Fishermen’s ‘Gathering’ on this Saturday somewhere between 2.00-4.00pm I hear that Delia Clancy is coming all the way from Texas to attend the said ‘Gathering’. Also, more on her radio piece last on ‘Sunday Miscellany’ in my notes next week. Rather frightening, had me in my waking moments thinking it was a ghost who held her in his grasp!
ADULT EDUCATION MEETING: C Yet another Adult Education meeting will take place on this very Thursday at 6.30 at City Hall. All interested people are welcome to attend.
ABBBEY FISHERMEN’S NICKNAMES: C This weekend sees the coming together of what has been billed as “The Gathering” of the descendants of the old Abbey Fishermen’s Guild. The entire episode of the fishermen being robbed of their livelihood in the first quarter of the 20th century has been well documented down through the years but none better than the revival of the notes of the late Jackie Clancy which was lovingly and painstakingly formed into a delightful little book, together with his own brilliant sketches by his daughter, Delia, who is domiciled in the US. The book is on sale in local bookshops.
Back in 1999, there was a tussle regarding the naming of the new bridge in the parish. Most people will remember that well published episode as it appeared in the ‘Limerick Leader.’ At that time I wrote a rather lengthy poem called “The Abbey Bridge” which took in most, if not all the nicknames of the old Abbey Fishermen. The families involved such as, Clancy, McNamara, Shanny and Hayes etc had similar names and as such had to be identified in everyday life, so it was necessary to put another name on them. Such was for example, Tons of Money (who probably didn’t have a bob), the Iron Man (probably small and skinny), Cockrum, Sunlight, Sugans, Poppy, Randy, Lully and Bantram and Dutch. It would be very interesting as to how some of these names came about. Here I will cite just nine lines from the said poem, which forms part of my collection entitled, “A Gem in the Wasteland,” published in 2002.
“We saw Gussy the music-man, Fr Tom with long beard,
Peri, Todsie and Smutts, the Iron Man to be feared.
Tons of Money and Cockrum, Boree and Dutch,
We saw Elbows and Beaver, who still kept in touch.
Tom Bull, Young Buck Shoes, Der and Vinegar too,
Brass Bands, Pat the Thatcher, Jones and Tucker we knew.
There was Woods and Young Mike
Who was known as the Rock,
Then Young Joe and Forty ‘round the table did flock.”
TIMES OF EVENTS: C The Abbey Fishermen’s ‘Gathering’ takes place this weekend. Friday night Registration at the Community Hall in King’s Island from 8.00-10.00pm. Saturday morning sees a tour around the Parish and boat trips to Ardnacrusha. In the afternoon between 2.00-4.00pm there will be a talk on the History of the Abbey Fishermen by Ms Slater and readings by our local writer, Mae Leonard. On Sunday evening at 8.00pm there will be a Social at St Mary’s RFC Clubhouse ‘til late. All events are free! Come along and enjoy the fun.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A GANDELOW?: C Well you can just have a chance to do so for a mere €5. Yes, down in one of the most ancient spots of our area of King’s Island, at the Curraghgower Boat Club, a group of men have been working hard for quite some time at making a 23foot long Gandelow from scratch. It has now been completed and was at the painting stage, when I caught up with the project recently. The larch-wood was purchased from Sheehan’s Timber-yard in Ballyporeen, yes that famous place out in Co Tipperary and it is hotly rumoured that the tree from which the wood came was planted by President Reagan himself when he visited there in 1984! ( I wonder will we ever get to the root of that story?) Not since the 70s has such a boat been built in Limerick. The chief man behind the building of this aquatic creation is well known parish man, Anthony O’Farrell, originally from Nolan’s Cottages. His late father, Danny, was steeped in all matters relating to the river and was indeed attached to that ancient Boat Club. Established back in the year 1877, this boat club is still a vibrant entity and may I say, is a most inviting and welcoming place to visit. The first thing that greets you as you approach the threshold is the lettering CBC indelibly etched into the concrete in the ground, together with a lovely artistic design. The workplace is quite spacious and I learned that it once served as a mortuary. (That quite fascinates me and I must follow it up). The old stone wall, now whitewashed, still stands firm. Every creature comfort is to be found in this clubhouse. It has toilet and shower facilities, a substantial kitchen area, as well as a TV room with plenty of seating together with a pool table. What more could a person wish for? They even have a picture of the Sacred Heart hanging on the wall, which has a story behind it, but due to space (or lack of it) I must save for another day. If you are walking by Clancy Strand on a Munster rugby day you will clearly spot the red flag flying and in the event of the demise of a member of the club, yet another flag will be seen raised in his memory. They now have about fifty members.
Gazing out one of the ample windows fronting the river, one immediately conjures up the Gandelow races of many years ago and the wonderful community spirit that such events entailed. As in centuries past, even dating back to the time of the Vikings, the Curraghgower Falls still continue to do what they do best, ‘gush forth their foaming ecstasy.’ In one of his poems, our gifted Bard, Michael Hogan, referred to it as ‘the rock impeded Curraghgower.’ Visiting this spot recently reminded me of the many long and happy hours we spent as youngsters down the slip and beyond, searching for ‘treasure’ mainly coloured pieces of glass etc. That was in an era when we lived ‘out’ so to speak and only went home for dinner and tea or stole home for a snack of bread and butter with sugar on top, in the summer months. You stuck the upturned amply buttered cut of bread into the sugar bowl.
Now to the nuts and bolts, and the business of making a shilling or two for this ancient and praiseworthy club. The tickets are €5 and any money accrued will go to the renovation and upkeep of the club. Tickets can be purchased from any member of the club but you can also contact the Chairman, John Griffin at 087-2621800. There is every possibility that you might find tickets about on the Riverfest weekend also. The draw is set to take place on June 15, 2013. To conclude I will cite one of the numerous ‘limericks’ I have accumulated in my minimal free time over the years.
Now the Curraghgower Boatclub is striking,
Well known as a port to the Viking,
Established in 1877,
Overlooking the Shannon,
‘Tis a great place to start a boat ‘hiking’.
BARD’S COTTAGE ON THE NEW ROAD: C “Mr Hogan lived for some years in a beautiful little cottage which he built for himself on the right bank of the Shannon. Here he reclaimed a piece of waste land from the river to enlarge his garden, and built a summer-house in which he penned his famous dramatic ballad, “The Bard and the Shannon.” Through a series of reverses, however, he was obliged to part with it, and when leaving it he wrote another pathetic ballad, entitled, “Farewell to the Shannon.” For some time afterwards he was without any fixed occupation or income. In the year 1866 he went to America, where he remained for three years. He wrote some short poems after his return home, but it was not long until his eyesight gave up, and so deficient has it become of late that he has practically “ceased his warbling.” He is now in the employment of the City Corporation, his duties being merely nominal. All former unpleasantnesses have been forgotten, and the genial Bard is the pride not only of the Corporation but of the citizens generally.” (So ends the appraisal of Michael Hogan’s life which was written in 1894 by W J Paul and published in Belfast. I will return to the Bard again in November, the month of his birth out in New Road, Thomondgate which is actually where he built the above-mentioned cottage.) The word, ‘unpleasantnesses’ in the above piece is how the writer in question had penned it, and I never deviate from the original writer’s script even if I might have used a more appropriate word or phrase. HUNGRY FAMILIES: C “Millions of salmon fry were mangled by the turbines while the Abbey Fishermen and their families went hungry.” “The Abbey Fishermen were also wiped out in the name of progress.” (Mae Leonard)
TRULY A PARISH WEEKEND: C Parish get-togethers are somewhat of a rarity nowadays when compared to some decades ago, when we had the annual Old Abbey Regatta. In fact, over the past twenty years, they have been held mainly to mark the launch the publication of some Parish writer, be it Denis O’Shaughnessy, Criostóir O’Flynn. Mae Leonard, or even myself. Of course there have also been such get-togethers to mark the anniversary of some sporting or musical outfit, such as the 125th anniversary of the great St Mary’s Fide and Drum Band and the significant anniversary of Athlunkard Boat Club, which was established in the year 1898. What a pity we didn’t have the pleasure of such a launch for the publication of any of the works of, what I consider, a true poet, and a firm favourite of mine, the late Arthur Lysaght. However, not very long following his death, his family collected his poems and made a lovely booklet of them with a bright green cover. I was honoured to receive a signed copy of that same booklet, together with a note signed by his wife, Eithne, who was indeed a lady of the highest order and very quietly spoken. In the note which is inscribed in the publication, she thanked me for my poem, “Two White Roses,” which I cannot now recall. Outside of the late poet’s wonderful poems, it was the poem on the inside cover which really caught my attention. It was penned by his daughter, Loraine and I hope my readers like it. Seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the Tree!
A TRIBUTE to my FATHER: ARTHUR’S WAY
Angel wings who flap around
Angels’ ears who hear the sound,
Of longing in the person dying,
Of sadness in the loved ones crying,
Who hear the fear, the doubt, the fright.
And descend down swift in eagle’s flight.
Who gather their wings about his soul,
And gently lift and make him whole.
Who gather into God’s beautiful light,
And make the man’s life sure and right,
The light around his body is pure,
It lifts the weight and gives the cure.
And then the soul of Arthur wings,
Towards countless noble wondrous things.
And now his spirit is set free,
It soars above the earthly trees
And gathers happiness and light,
And all things holy, fond and bright.
His body is freed from mortal pain,
He walks with strong legs and confidence again,
Rejoices in God’s loving hands,
And says goodbye to familiar lands.
He’s awed, it’s strange, but this land he feared,
Feels so right,
HE’S HOME AGAIN!
I can honestly say that this one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read and in particular the following two lines appealed to me, “Who gather their wings about his soul, And gently lift and make him whole.” Keeping in mind that severe sickness prior to death robs a person of the ‘wholeness’ that makes them who they are. According to the poet, Loraine, death renews that ‘wholeness’ once again.
SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE AT T.P.: C I mentioned having met Vinny Ryan in my notes last week. I have further come to know him since through his erudite, yet easily accessible work on the history of rugby in Limerick. He was generous enough to allow it to be placed on the club’s web page. There are a few wonderful pictures of teams going back to the earliest times in his own club, with one of the female rugby personality of Limerick and in particular, Young Munster. But, a priceless picture of sheep grazing in Thomond Park back in 1960, has to be a winner. It was interesting to see that one of the many sources that the writer drew upon was, Séamus Ó’Cinnéide (1977) From Garryowen to Groody Bridge in the Green Faded Jersey. From the club’s web page we read the following. “Vincent Ryan is currently Shannon RFC’s Junior Vice President (2012) and has recently been confirmed with a Bachelor of Arts in History, Politics, Sociology and Social Studies from the University of Limerick. As part of his course, he conducted his thesis on The Origins and Ethos of Limerick Rugby. It offers a comprehensive and in-depth description of the history of Rugby in Limerick and will fascinate rugby followers of all Clubs.”
RUGBY QUOTE: C “There is no place on earth I would rather go to watch the game played, for here, is the very embodiment of what is best in the game. Democracy rules in Limerick rugby as it obtains nowhere else I know. Here it is a game for all”. (Van Esbeck 1982.)