June 8

Maureen Sparling


Maureen Sparling

POSTCARDS OLD AND NEW: The launch of a set of six postcards, depicting exact place scenes of Limerick old and new, took place at the City Library on Wednesday evening last. Maria Byrne (a former pupil of mine), who deputised for our Mayor, Gerry McLoughlin, performed the official launch in great style. A lot of old familiar faces were present and even Dermot Lynch, formerly of the ‘Limerick Leader’ (and maybe still), showed up to take some pictures.

POSTCARDS OLD AND NEW: The launch of a set of six postcards, depicting exact place scenes of Limerick old and new, took place at the City Library on Wednesday evening last. Maria Byrne (a former pupil of mine), who deputised for our Mayor, Gerry McLoughlin, performed the official launch in great style. A lot of old familiar faces were present and even Dermot Lynch, formerly of the ‘Limerick Leader’ (and maybe still), showed up to take some pictures.

The picture postcards which are of a vey high quality, depicts the following familiar scenes: John’s Square (little change), Thomond Park (drastic change! But oh, what a welcome one), Sarsfield Bridge (magnificent contrast), O’Connell Street (style and cars more modern), Pery Square, (oh so different! Must have been taken pre 1906, as there is no sign of the Carnegie Library in the old postcard), Cruises Street (well, what can I say, the extreme contrast is patently obvious). It should never have been demolished its entirety.

The old photographs came courtesy of the Limerick Leader Archives and Limerick City Council would appear to have sponsored this wonderful project which celebrates the gathering 2013. Congratulations to the two most congenial and smiling ladies of the Library, Mary King and Fiona Ismail, for successfully bringing to fruition what may have been but a dream a matter of months ago. Could it be that in so doing they have started a precedent?

HOUSES GALORE TO BE BUILT: All in a day’s walk recently, someone reliably informed me that as part of the Regeneration an amount of houses are set to spring up around us. What really sparked off this revelation was when we passed Emily Place, Off Mary Street, the steel boarding on one of the five or six houses there had been removed and men were working on removing materials from within. I haven’t has a chance to go by that way since, but I’m sure that this continued with the remaining houses. Then I learned that a fleet of houses are to be built on the approach to what we’ve all come to know as Gugu’s Hill and on to the Castle car park. Yet more are to be built on the old Star Rover’s patch, just beyond our beautiful Créche. So, it would appear we are eventually going to be surrounded by houses. An amount of houses have recently been levelled to the ground in recent weeks and of course on several other streets there are gaping hollows here and there, so much so m that if some of the houses on certain streets were to be put up for sale, they could merit the description of ‘Detached!’ Just take a walk around the Island Bank which is exceptionally well kept, thanks to the present Civic Trust, under the direction of young James Ring, a parish man, and you will see for yourself. That same civic body have also created a few eye-catching artistic pieces around the city, one being the expert camouflage job performed on the bottle band etc on Merchant’s Quay. Yet another of this type of artistic effort has been cited on the newspaper recently but I’m not exactly sure where; all I know is that it likewise is visually most acceptable.

WELCOME TO D’HUB: It didn’t take long for the organisers of the setting up of the new Digital Hub to secure an alternate venue, and what a venue? It is pristine as becomes its near neighbour, the Bishop’s Palace. I understand that the doors will be open to anyone who cares to call from 9.00am to 9.00pm Monday to Friday. This is very good news for the large membership this Co-op had already attracted. Well done to Mary Donnelly, Marian Moloney and the rest of the main workers who managed to bring this digital dream about in double quick time. Situated at 3, Old Church Street, the interior of this centuries old building has to be seen to be believed. The walls retain their original stone effect and have not been plastered over at all.

NICHOLAS STREET: As we eagerly await the re-opening of King John’s Castle, I notice that work has begun on one of the Nicholas Street buildings. This very good news indeed and perhaps more improvements are in the offing for that much architecturally beleaguered street for the past twenty-five years. The building under re-construction is right next door to where the Abbey Court Bakery once stood.

REMEMBERING CANON CONNELLAN: Our late Canon Brendan Connellan, was born in Knockaderry, Co Limerick in 1928. He attended Maynooth College from 1945-1952, securing during that time a B.Ph., B.A. D.D., and HDE. He was ordained in 1952. He taught at St Munchin’s College from 1953-1967 where he held the French Chair. He arrived in our parish in 1985, having been preceded by Fr John Condon who had followed Msgr P J Lee. During his time in our Parish, many physical changes were undertaken in our church, particularly with the removal of the pulpit and many more features around the sanctuary. He was a clergyman who attended mainly to church and in particular, to parish matters. Other than that, I will always remember him as a man who minded his own business as well as his business of the church. Despite his obvious intelligence, one would hardly have guessed so as he wore his erudition ever so lightly on his shoulders. In short, he was a gentleman. He was also a regular reader of these weekly notes. Outside of the aforementioned, the one sure legacy he bequeathed to our parish was his very own publication entitled, “Light on the Past.” For sure he undertook an amount of research to attain the legacy it has become. He went back to the very roots of what could have been termed ‘our little parish settlement.’ For the next few weeks I hope to take snatches from that same book and I have no doubt whatsoever that many of my readers will relish it. But before I finish this piece, I would like to recall Marie, the parish secretary during his sojourn among us. I understood from her that she had the business of typing the various hand-written pieces he would ‘drop’ on her desk. Both now have gone to their eternal reward but their memory remains a very good one in each individual case.

CARDINAL AT ST MARY’S CATHEDRAL: “Cardinal Rinuncinni arrived in Limerick and on Junes 14, 1646, huge celebrations got under way at 4.00pm. The Irish Military under arms led the procession from St Francis Abbey, some leading gentlemen of the city carrying the 32 standards.

Then the Nuncio accompanied the Archbishop of Cashel, Bishop of Limerick, Clonfert and Ardfert, in their robes, the supreme council of the Confereration, the Mayor and Magistrates of the city and throngs of people. As they entered the Cathedral, the great hymn of Thanksgiving, “Te Deum” was chanted by a special Choir; the Cardinal led the people in prayer and concluded with Solemn Benediction. The following morning the cardinal offered Mass. Word was sent to the Pope about these celebrations, who then went to St Mary Major’s Basilica in Rome to take part in a thanksgiving service for the success of the Catholic Church in Ireland.” (From “Light on the Past,” by Canon Brendan Connellan. Second half next week).

A BRIGHTER KILKEE: Some regular readers of these weekly notes may remember my mentioning some months ago that lights were to be put in place along the promenade in Kilkee, so as to make the place safer and also to generally make the area more attractive by night. We, those same lights have been put in place, not alone on the Prom but also in the nearby local park and they are very attractive indeed.

ABBEY HISTORY BY FRANK (3): “Jackie Clancy’s scholarship has been recorded by RTE and has predictably attracted academic interest since the publication of “The Abbey Fishermen: a Short History”. This has been considerably enhanced by the publication in 2010 of what may be the definitive work on this topic, “My life on the River: an Abbey Fisherman’s Stories”, by his daughter, Delia Clancy Cowles, a work which in my opinion would qualify him for a posthumous PhD. award.

Nicknames were always a very strong tradition in St. Mary’s Parish but they had a particular importance in trades/guilds such as the Abbey Fishermen, where different families had several members-cousins and uncles with the same Christian names and so nicknames were used to distinguish them.

Their centuries-old fishing rights were ended forever, however, when the E.S.B. in 1929 began to operate Ireland’s first Hydro-Electric scheme at Ardnacrusha near the City. The Head-Race or Canal needed for this and built by the German engineering company Siemens-Schuckert, meant that millions of gallons of water were diverted into it from the main river, thereby reducing its levels and force.

The salmon were attracted into the canal with disastrous consequences for the fishermen. Their subsequent inevitable battle with the E.S.B. authorities finished in the City Court House in January 1933. The fishermen refused to pay their fines for fishing in the Tail-Race, but these were quashed eventually.

The Shannon Fisheries Act of 1934 terminated the issue of snap-net licenses and a long battle for compensation ensued, which involved four families only; Hayes’s, Clancys, Mac Namaras and Shannys. The compensation list itself with the names, nicknames, ages, addresses and amount paid to each member is a valuable research source for all local historians. Their centuries old domain on their river steeped in legend, ended forever with the settlements.” ‘Their History and Legacy.’ A Talk by Frank Prendergast Sunday 5th of May 2013 at St. Mary’s Rugby Football Club. Many thanks to Frank Prendergast for allowing me to publish his excellent piece in my weekly column.