May 25

Maureen Sparling


Maureen Sparling

BISHOP PRAISES LIMERICK: It is not often that Limerick receives praise on national radio, yet that is exactly what happened the first on Monday morning last on RTE Radio 1. On the John Murray show, where Miriam O’Callaghan was standing in for the normal presenter, Bishop Brendan Leahy was not slow in saying that Limerick is a lovely place to be. Such an honest, objective observation; things can only get better!

BISHOP PRAISES LIMERICK: It is not often that Limerick receives praise on national radio, yet that is exactly what happened the first on Monday morning last on RTE Radio 1. On the John Murray show, where Miriam O’Callaghan was standing in for the normal presenter, Bishop Brendan Leahy was not slow in saying that Limerick is a lovely place to be. Such an honest, objective observation; things can only get better!

FAREWELL TO CARMEL: The parish has lost a friend with the death, all too soon, of Carmel Ryan, late of Cherry Villas (Crosbie Row). We are stunned by the suddenness of her demise. One word to describe the deceased is – friendly. Without being newsy, Carmel was genuinely interested in how everyone was doing. She loved to talk and one would not want to be in a hurry somewhere when you met her. Just like the marriage guest in ‘The Ancient Mariner,’ she would hold you. Carmel held a prime position at the Parkway in its halcyon days. In fact she was a vital force there. It helped that she was blessed with a honeyed tone of voice which she made use of to the maximum. I have little doubt that she greatly impressed tourists during those lean and fairly grim years. As well as having great time for people, Carmel had great time for the Church. The last place I met her was at the Candlelight Mass at the Redemptorist’s Church a few months ago and she was in fine form then, as she always was. A person would feel better for having met her. How very proud she was of her late brother, Mickey, our treasured parish singer, our very own Pavarotti! Carmel cared for all of her family as health problems arose. One could safely say she was devoted to them each in turn. That is often the case with a family member who does not marry. Carmel loved her little car. It took her everywhere. And as I saw it of late weeks stand idly outside her house I used to wonder, when will Carmel be back to start it again? Sadly, it was not to be, for the Lord had need of a friendly sort in His heavenly abode. We will surely miss you, Carmel.

We extend our heartfelt sympathy to her last surviving sibling, Ita D’Arcy, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews. Our loss is heaven’s gain. May she receive just rewards for all her labours. Rest in peace.

PRIMARY CARE CENTRE: It is now seven months since the official opening by the Minister for Health, Dr Reilly, of our medical pride and joy, the King’s Island Primary Care Centre. Consisting of an area of 11,000 sq feet, this Centre offers three vital medical services: King’s Island Medical Centre, a well stocked Pharmacy, and the HSE Branch. An excellent Chiropodist practice also operates within this very fine structure. Formerly known as Dr Murray’s Surgery, this Doctors’ Practice stretches back to the early 1960s. It is open from 8.00am – 6.00pm from Monday to Friday. The contact numbers for this vibrant medical centre is: 061-311811: Fax 061-313837: email:

CATHEDRAL LUNCHTIME CONCERT: There will be yet another Lunchtime Concert at St Mary’s Cathedral on this coming Wednesday, May 29, 2013, beginning at 1.15pm and finishing at 2.00pm. Entry is free but a small (or large) contribution to the retiring collection would be greatly appreciated. This will go to aid the Companions of St Mary’s Cathedral Music. This concert will feature Helen Houlihan (soprano), Irina Dernova (piano) - music by Schubert, Granados and Brahms.

LIVING THE WORD: During a rare visit to St Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday last for Service I found myself doubly rewarded, for not only was the sonorous Choir in their usual great singing voice, but the main Reader on the day was what one might call a spirited reader. Her delivery was music to the ear and balm to the soul. The topic of one of the readings was the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to the Apostles in an Upper Room (somewhere). Descending on them in the form of a dove with tongues of fire sitting on each of them, and the manner in which the reading was delivered, we could all but see the entire event taking place. Admirable diction complemented a voice that was clear as a bell. Certainly the spirited reading was lost on nobody in that ancient Cathedral at that moment in time. It was expressive yet not overdone. The words of Hamlet to the players immediately sprung to mind while I listened intently. “Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounce it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it as many of our players do, I had as lief the town criers had spoke my lines.” The reader also had the presence of mind to efficiently adjust the microphone to suit her required height. Quite often at various events throughout the city this does not occur which often results in a mumbling tone which can prove terribly annoying.

PARAKEET: Not wishing to take away from the religious aspect of the above piece, I thought I’d offer this little anecdote another heading. Most people dealing in Computer land will understand that we are open to correction for the least infringement in spelling and grammar, as well as punctuation. Well, when I typed Paraclete in the above piece, I was issued with the red line of correction. (It’s just now happened again!) The word they preferred or put forward was ‘Parakeet!

LOOKING FOR JOAN: Joan attended the recent Abbey Fisherman’s ‘Gathering’ and I would like if she or Rita would contact me for a message at the above email address. I’m almost certain the said lady who is a great supporter of all things local, reads my Notes on a weekly basis.

TOURISM IN ST. MARY’S CATHEDRAL: It is that time of year again when we are looking for people to man the Cathedral desk at weekends. If you feel you can spare a few hours on Saturdays or Sundays please contact Andrew on 087 - 249 2068. Thanking you in anticipation

YEATS HORSE PAINTING AT HUNT: A 1937 oil painting by Jack B Yeats, “A Race at Hy-Brazil,” worth one million euros, is among 39 paintings which are on display to the public at the Hunt Museum until August 11, 2013. These paintings were acquired by AIB 30 years ago and were formerly kept at their headquarters in Ballsbridge and are now on loan to the Hunt Museum from the Crawford Gallery in Cork. It is obvious from this very fine painting that the artist had an abiding love of the horse and Gaelic myths surrounding this, the most noble and intelligent of all animals.

MARIAN’S MYTHOLOGICAL DOLLS: Marian Moloney (O’Connell) is a true parish woman and originally lived near where the butcher shop now stands on Athlunkard Street. Last year she appeared on ‘Dragons’ Den’ but failed to secure funding for her wonderful hand-crafted business. Nothing daunted, Marian who is also a driving force behind the highly successful establishment of ‘D’ Hub,’ continued with the unique craft she has developed over the years. Each and every doll is unique and bears the names we are familiar from our mythological past, such as Emer, Niamh, Bridget and Colleen. The official name of Marian’s business is, “Irish Myth Dolls,” and she can be found on the Internet and on Facebook also.

KATE O’BRIEN’S HOUSE: It was good to see on ‘Nationwide’ on last Friday night that the great writer’s house where Kate grew up is to get a new lease of life, thanks to an enterprising buyer. Built around 1880, it has remained a firm fixture in the minds of many citizens as they walk, cycle or drive by it. On the evening it was featured on TV, local playwright, Mary Coll, my favourite Limerick Lady of the Arts Arena in the city, (it just so happens also that one set of her grandparents came from the Parish), spoke lovingly about it and how she felt goose pimples rising at being in the very house, in fact in the very room where she might first have put pen to paper. It is indeed a very good Limerick story and I’m sure, like myself, many citizens will be looking out for its progress. Incidentally, if anyone knows of someone who is willing to give a good price for a First Edition (1931) of our prime writer’s book entitled, “Without My Cloak,” (the one that is set in Limerick and concerns a horse thief in the first chapter and where she refers to the Gap of Storm and the Vale of Honey), let me know by email. I have one. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Kate’s death, which is significant enough. If I don’t get a good offer I think I will hold on to it until the 50th!

ABBEY HISTORY BY FRANK: “As with rivers everywhere, fishing has gone on in Limerick for thousands of years. An excavation by an archaeology team from the Board of Works led by Mr. Éamonn Kelly, some seven or eighty years ago at Carrigdirty near Pallaskenry on the River Shannon below Limerick City, discovered a 16’ (5 metres) boat and a human skull6,800 years old- thirty centuries before the Pyramids in Egypt. Even down to our own times there were colonies of fishermen in different parts of Limerick City, the most notable of which were the Abbey Fishermen, who came mostly but not exclusively, from the St. Mary’s Parish Area. Their official title derives from the 13th Century Abbey of the Franciscan order which was located in the English town in Saint Mary’s Parish, between the O’Dwyer and Abbey Bridges. Some families traditionally associated with the Guild were the Cherrys, O’Dwyers, Lyddys, Hartigans, O’Connors and Carrolls but only four, the Clancys, MacNamaras, Hayes’s and the Shannys (from the tower Park area) were active fishermen at the time of the dissolution. Evidence of their antiquity is that some families such as the Clancys and Shannys have retained their pre-Reformation burial rights in St. Mary’s Protestant Cathedral.

The boats they used were called brocauns (brocán), made by themselves with two men in each boat. An old map of the city from around 1590 in Trinity College, Dublin (No. 57, Vol. 209. M.S.S Catalogue), shows a number of these fishing boats. The celebrated Gaelic 18th century poet, Donnacha Rua MacConmara from Cratloe refers in one of his works to ,Luimneach na gCaolbarc” Limerick of the narrow boats. The system they used to allocate the fishing areas to each boat is thought to derive from the pre Norman Laws. The members met at the City Courthouse each Spring and used a lottery system to decide which boat got an “inure”. This word derives possibly from the Irish “inbhear”- a harbour or inlet. (c.f. an t-Inbhear Mór (Arklow) and Inverness in Scotland).

Their greatest legacy for Gaelic and placenames scholars however, was their ancient list of names for every field, harbour, falls or weir on the Shannon from Barrington’s Pier to Doonass. These names are so old, that in several cases they have defied translation by experts and scholars from “An Coimisiún Logainmneacha” -the National Placenames Commission. Given the established antiquity of all the townland placenames in the City, and its suburbs, it is not at all an exaggeration to suggest that some of these placenames handed down by the Abbey Fishermen could well be thousands of years old. A small example of this is the names they had for the northern bank of the Shannon as it flows through the city by the present Westfields bird sanctuary and Saint Michael’s Rowing club, Leantán and Tanainnaluinge, in the days before Cleeves factory was built at Lansdowne.” ‘Their History and Legacy.’ A Talk by Frank Prendergast Sunday 5th of May 2013 at St. Mary’s Rugby Football Club.

OUR LOCAL MENS SHED: What is a Men’s Shed? A Men’s Shed is a dedicated, friendly and welcoming meeting place where men come together and undertake a variety of mutually agreed activities. St Mary’s Parish Men’s Shed is open to all men regardless of age, background or ability. It is a place where you can share your skills and knowledge with others, learn new skills and develop your old ones.

One of the projects the group is presently involved in is the revival of boat building skills in the Parish, in particular the building of local traditional Angling Cots. The group has applied to Limerick City Adult Education Services for tutor hours to run classes on woodwork, stain glass painting and local history, to name but a few. The viewpoint of St Mary’s Parish Men’s Shed is that all members are equal with decisions arrived at by agreement. New members are always welcome and can be assured that there is something of interest for everyone as the men have ownership of their Shed and decide their own programme. If you would like to become involved please call to CDP house at 5, Verdant Crescent (opposite the river facing the Distillery houses), any Tuesday between 1.00pm – 2.30pm.

LOCAL FLOWER GARDEN: C Also referred to as the Community Garden and the brainchild and creation of Limerick Civic Trust, it is now almost a year old. A visual delight, it has greatly enhanced what was formerly a rather derelict site and is situated directly opposite the entrance to the very attractive and ancient Villier’s Square. In last year’s annual report it was stated: “At the end of August, the Minister for the Environment, Community and local Government, Phil Hogan, TD, opened the Community Garden at King’s Island. The local residents turned out in force and it proved to be a very special day for the Trust. There was a great sense of achievement and satisfaction for all involved in seeing what a huge success the project has been. This Garden was also nominated for a ‘Pride of Place Award’ a true reflection of the hard work that went into this project.” As far as I can glean, since its opening this garden has been lovingly cared for and has generated an amount of interest locally. It is an ideal and very safe area to bring children as they can run around to their hearts content or sit at the picnic tables provided to have lunch or to do some art work.