History club for Catherine Street cafe

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

A CITY businessman has come up with a novel idea to fill the quiet afternoons in his cafe.

A CITY businessman has come up with a novel idea to fill the quiet afternoons in his cafe.

On Tuesday, April 5, Ger Sheahan, of Lulu’s Cafe in Catherine Street, will hold the first Local History Club.

In preparation for the first day - when local historian Donal Ryan will share memories of his city - Ger, who grew up in Ashbourne Avenue, has been busy stocking the shelves of his premises with local history books.

He hopes to tap in on those visiting the newly re-opened Sarsfield Credit Union. The idea, he says, is that people would take it in turns on a weekly basis to share their recollections of the Treaty City.

“This is an opportunity for people to sit down, have a cup of coffee and a scone, and have a chat about their memories of Limerick. Factual information is available in books and on the internet, but it is the personal memories which is what makes things like this tick,” said Ger, who worked in the Limerick Bacon Company in the past.

He feels the weekly meeting will also represent a chance for people to rekindle old connections and friendships.

“There may be some people who could have worked in a shop of a traditional industry. Perhaps that shop or trade has gone. My Mum, for example, worked in the clothing factory in Lord Edward Street, which has now gone to rack and ruin. But there are maybe a couple of thousand people around who worked there.”

Mr Ryan, who taught Ger at the Model School, and spent most of his life in Newenham Street, will be the event’s first speaker.

It was only later on in his life he committed his memories to the written word - thanks to a lovely vellum book he received in the post.

“I kept putting it on the long finger until one day, this lovely vellum book arrived by post from my daughter in America. At the bottom of an envelope was a note saying ‘Now you haven’t got any excuse’. So this is when I started writing.”

With a lifetime of memories, one thing Mr Ryan - who now lives in Pery Square - bemoans is the loss of community spirit.

“The houses we lived in at Newenham Street had families in all of them. These are flats now. The lads growing up there then could go to the park and kick a football. They could even kick a football in the street, because there was no traffic. Obviously that it something you could not do now,” he said.