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MAY CAFFREY

May has lived all her life at the same house in Suffolk Street which she shares with her sister Philomena. She worked for 6-7 years in Carroll’s of Newmarket Streetand then ran her own shop in Canon Street for many years.

 

 

  Interview with May Caffrey  

 

 

This is Danny Cusack I’m here in Suffolk Street in Kells on Wednesday 19th January 2011 I’m talking to May Caffrey about her memories of Kells growing up ...so welcome May and thank you for talking to us…so would you perhaps start off at the beginning and tell us briefly a little about your own background…where you grew up and your childhood and that….and that kind of thing.

 

MC:     Well I was born and reared in the house we are living in now in Suffolk Street and there was just three in the family…three siblings you know …my mother and father and just three of us….I went to school here…Kells at that stage was a far better town than it is today there was everything in it…..as I said before two bakeries…..a brewery and I often heard my father saying there was a Chandlery in Kells and some kind of leather work as well….leather alley down in John’s street…that’s where it came from you know ….and what else…and there was races …Loyd races….I don’t remember this ….but this you know….was in the very beginning ….they came by train to the races and I often heard my father saying the horses and traps would go over to the railway to collect the people to bring them down to the races in Loyd….I told you we had a cinema in it …..

 

DC:     Was that just across the road…..

 

MC:     Yeah down at the end in Suffolk Street…the schools wasn’t amalgamated…you had the convent and primary and secondary ….then you had the Christian Brothers who were again...did secondary…and before the amalgamated….the tech ..that was the three and then the amalgamated like…..and the tech and the brothers went in together…that sort of thing you know….and that’s how the community school started…but the convent didn’t join in ….they are still.

 

DC:     Separate…..

 

MC:     Separate…yeah…..what else I cant…..

 

DC:     So you lived in this house all your life…..you must know Kells and Suffolk street very well….perhaps as little bit about school….who your teachers were and the other pupils and the games you played and the lessons you learned….that kind of thing?

 

MC:     Which I never did!…It was old nuns down here in the convent when we were going to school I think there was 36 in it at the time as far as I can remember…..you had a different nun for every subject…..you know...they used to put on plays …..they were really good you know…they played Nemesis’s  and the Sign of the Cross….Fatima and all of them…and all the children took part in this…it was all just the convent you know …..

 

DC:     It sounded like a fairly happy schooling by and large….

 

MC:     Ah yes you know…there used to be a big fair on the 16th October ….the cattle end  used to be up on the Fair green and the horses were down in Farrell Street…..the place would be packed, we would have the day off from school cause you would have to cross the busy road down here….we were always praying that it would be on a Friday or on a Monday so that we would have a long weekend….you know all them little things I remember….

 

DC:     Any games you played at school or at home in the street….

 

MC:     You could play out in the street in those days …..there wasn’t much traffic….we played top and hopscotch and rounder’s and all that type of thing …and then you could go and join the        tennis club if you want to and things like that……and playing camogie …it was a happy childhood really…like you know the tower up here …you know there is a window….I don’t know what you would call it ….it wouldn’t be a door either but about six of us was up ...when the church would have a service on a Sunday in the evening and the gates were open and went in and got in this window and when we got inside….we thought you see ….the level of the ground but wasn’t the bottom of it down            the dept of the footpath outside.

 

DC:     Big drop altogether.

 

MC:     Big drop…then when we tried to get out …we couldn’t get out…..there was dead birds there and all birds droppings and we couldn’t get up….and we were panicking the five of us ….the sexton I cant remember what his name was at that time …he had to put down a yard brush and we had to catch on to that …and he pulled us up he made a run at us with the brush then and told us if he ever got us in there again he,we could stay in ….now that was just a frightening experience…….you know

 

DC:     It would have been….You wouldn’t forget that in a hurry

 

MC:     It was very frightening really.

 

DC:     I bet any other children haven’t attempted it since either…

 

MC:     I wouldn’t imagine they would, and I remember another day with a pal of mine…she had a little terrier dog and I have one and we went to a funeral that was up in the church here …didn’t one of the dogs I didn’t know which of them…..didn’t they find a human bone…and ran down the street with it…..I don’t know how many ran after him to get it to bury it back…that’s just another incident…..

 

DC:     A funny little childhood incident that you wouldn’t forget…yeah….and you didn’t have any problem going up there to the Church of Ireland in those days…it wasn’t any kind of ….everyone  kind of got on..

 

MC:     Of yeah there was no bigotry or anything like that you know…out of this house you know my parents went to as many Protestant funerals as they did as…you know on out side…no there was no…...he was  a nice man…he was a Mr Carson…..I remember Mr Carson….and he was a …it was a long time ago since he was there ….but he was a very nice man and the last one…..not the last one Cannon Olden….now he was a nice man……

 

DC:     I remember him….

 

MC:     Then there was a man after him …..a very young man…it was one of his own crowd that …I shouldn’t say crowd …but one of his parishioners that got him shifted because they didn’t like him…..I think they have a lady now

 

DC:     They have from Iceland above all places….

 

MC:     I know, sure they will all be looking for ministers of the church after a while you know…but there is only two down here now and they are just ran off their feet and when I was young there was ….and Kells wasn’t nearly as big at that stage and they had three….and then it went into four….and then all of a sudden Kells started to get bigger and bigger and bigger and then the priests started to get scarcer and scarcer like you know….well the two men down their at  moment work very hard …….

 

DC:     Fathers Byrne and Malone.

 

Break:

 

DC:     Can you remember the church when you were a child such as Communion or Confirmation or weddings or special events there or any special memories or priests in days gone by.

 

MC:     Well I remember Fr. McCullen…he was a very strict man and at the same time I believe he was very good to the orphans…..the orphanages were there in those days and he was very good to them….in other words you couldn’t cod or anything with him…he was real old fashioned….

 

DC:     The old school.

 

MC:     That’s just it ……for First Communion it was none of this nonsense like mothers and fathers bring them up to receive…they were there and they were brought up as a class sort of thing….for Confirmation you had to learn all the hymns and most of them was in Latin in those days  and you had to sing the mass as well and again no scarcity….there is great singers in Kells and there always was ……but you cant get them to come and sing….now the sing often at mass and maybe of the congregation would sing the others wouldn’t …..and you know I don’t know what does be wrong with them…..we had Fr. Donegan one time…he was a great man with the choir when he was here …I think he is retired now or something he is up the country now…..but he was very musical…..and then of course Fr. Rispin with all the Panto’s …..Fr. Kiernan with all the Operettas…etc…etc. I forget them all but they were really really good……

 

DC:     When I interviewed Kitty Carolan she told be all about the Operas ….she even kept some of the old programmes...so I was able to take copies which was nice…

 

MC:     Oh I see……of course……it’s a pity in those days there was no tapes or recordings and they were really and I’m not just saying cause it happened in Kells…they were marvellous singers   ……everyone even the principals ….there was one year he went outside to get somebody a soprano for one of the Operas and you know she couldn’t hold a candle to the other ones that had minor parts in it but far better singers…you know that kind of way…I don’t know what her name was even …he used to have one on every year……and then Fr. Rispin had the pantos and you had to be a pioneer to be in that…yeah..

 

DC:     I didn’t know that ….

 

MC:     And all the boys turned up and the whole lot….like the didn’t let him down and some of them were…..they could drink.    .as the fellow said …Lough Eireann.

 

DC:     It strikes me May, that there has always been a very thriving Dramatic and Musical life in Kells over the years ….would that be true?

 

MC:     Yeah it would ……but to get them to do it you know…..or get them to be in something….it was awful hard….there was one fellow I know and he is dead now …lord of mercy on him……he was a horrid man on the beer but ….he had the most powerful voice I have ever heard in a man in the town here….his favourite song was ghost riders in the sky….and you should have heard him….they couldn’t get him in Panto they couldn’t get him into choirs…he just wouldn’t go and he was a beautiful singer you know….they wouldn’t commit themselves like to  the practice and all that …….and was Kitty in some of them operas herself?

 

DC:     I think she was in a couple…yes…

 

MC:     Ah the Panto’s were really good…..they were really really good and the pony’s were….they would always have a live animal in it ……a small little pony for Cinderella and they had a donkey another time and they had a cow another time…you know…it was really good.

 

DC:     And of course the pantomimes are kept going by John Grant and it will pass on from that…sorry just to change tact’s you mentioned the orphans and the orphanages there …would you say a bit more about that you know…

 

MC:     Well I didn’t know them they were just there….like some of them were at school naturally and in those days the children didn’t wear uniforms to school …it didn’t come in ….which should have been at that time too….a lot of them were not from around that was in the orphanage like…there was a couple of families ...three or four maybe but they were all from different places like……parents died or something happened…then they just had to go in there you know…..

 

DC:     And did the mix with the rest of the school children?

 

MC:     Oh yea they did alright

 

Interruption

 

MC:     Outside the gates of misery, no more Irish, no more French are sitting on the orphanage bench…kick up tables…I missed a line there but I will continue on first and then I’ll tell you ….kick up table kick up chairs….kick Sister Anthony down the stairs ….if Sr. Brendan interferes ….knock her down and box her ears…..

 

DC:     Where should we be this time next year outside the gates of misery, no more Irish, no more French are sitting on the orphanage bench…

 

MC:     Bye Bye orphans….kick up tables kick up chairs ….have you got that?  …oh heavens….kick Sr. Brendan down the stairs….

 

DC:     Sr. Anthony down the stairs …..

 

MC:     If Sr. Brendan interferes knock her down and box her ears…..well you see it was somebody in the ordinary school that wrote this and its in it ….bye bye orphans …put that in front of ……

 

DC:     kick up tables…..kick up chairs…so bye bye orphans …..That’s a great rhyme.

 

MC:     Some young one in the school thought of that herself….

 

DC:     Its very witty…..it’s very funny….you did well to remember it after all these years

 

MC:     I never forgot it cause we were chanting it for several times when you would be getting holidays….They were good days really….you know….There was manners put on you then …..if you did that with them now ….you would be in trouble and a good slap never harmed anybody…..you know the old saying …”spare the rod and spoil the child”….

 

DC:     You have scene some big changes in your life in Kells all over the years….when you left school ….would you say a little about your working life ….you worked in a shop for a while….

 

MC:     Down in Carroll’s…..I was in it for 6 or 7 years….there was hell in the house here because I hated school and when I wanted to go into shop life…..they didn’t want it at all….my father wanted something better….but I wasn’t going to spend it on persecution…..I had an aunt a nun and when she heard she blew her top altogether ….that she never thought her niece of hers would go and settle for something like that she thought I would do better … for once I pleased myself and I was quit happy in what I was doing and that’s it.

 

DC:     You were right…..and how, was it working in Carroll’s…was it still Carroll’s before it was Robert Hughes …was it still Carroll’s….

 

MC:     It was Carroll’s….Robert Hughes father was the manager of it

 

DC:     So I believe and that’s how, he come to have it.

 

MC:     It was left to George…you know…I got on very well with George, and I can remember one time the boss…Mr Carroll asked me to get him a few things to bring home… like in a box ….he lived out in Moynalty……..and in the lot of groceries he wanted shaving cream…I got all ready and put it in the box gave it to him …he brought it out to the car…..we came in on Monday and he had this tube of stuff…..I seen him coming in with it ….he said I would be a long time trying to shave with that….toothpaste I gave him….I picked up the wrong one….they were all on the shelve and I just wasn’t minding what I was doing and picked it up and gave it to him…the poor man had no shaving cream….he was a …..you went in the Wednesday after Christmas to stock take……you got no extra money for that…..you weren’t paid for your day that everybody else was off and you were in to stock take…..he was a mean man that way like……he would get the last out of you ….nine o clock on a Saturday evening when we would close and half six every other day…..there was one particular woman used to come in always last on a Saturday night….and she would be in Nultys who used to sell the papers ….there was two old ladies ….two sisters and the sold papers like a newsagents ….and when she would see the shop being closed…you know getting the shutters up in the window and all this type of thing …..she would come over to get her week’s groceries and she would want rashers and ham and everything…..and the machines were cleaned at that stage and when they would see her coming three or four of them would skip…..I remember one night I was the only one left and George the boss and the others went and she came in she wanted ham and she wanted brawn I think and rashers and something like that…ten o` clock I got out after serving her because he had to stay and clean the machines ….with the salt it would destroy the wheel of the thing…..so George told the boss the next day ..well on Monday, about this woman coming over at 9 o clock to get her messages……well George told him in good faith……George thought he would have a solution……he had a good solution as and from next Saturday night we close at half nine …we had another half an hour and no extra money for it or anything…..so I’m telling you when she was coming in she got an awful few cold shoulders on different times and kind of got the message then and she would be in with ten minuets to the time but otherwise when we were closing she would come in…..you know…..

 

DC:     She was trying to push you to the limits of your endurance……as far as you could go…..

 

MC:     It wasn’t fair on all the staff……you know after a hard day and everything had to be weighed….in those days ….very few packet stuff or anything……you had to fill it and weigh it and tie it up …..you know…they showed us a way….you know when you see a big bag of stuff……you would always see a big piece of twine and they would tie it and it wouldn’t open……but if we were putting a stone of flour in a bag…..that much twine would do it and that is hard to believe… but it was a fold down….you push it down like that ….you see….and you got your twine and you put it in there …..and then tie it on the top……no matter how you bang it on the counter it would never open…that much twine would do you…the length of that….and a little bit extra to tie it ….you know…..that’s the way we had to do it ….the boss often came…when you were after weighing  and stuff he would come and check it after …I remember one day there was a new boy brought in and he weighed stuff after him and over 12 packets of stuff…..a quarter pound of weight he was giving more…..it was always heavy ….so he was called up over that ….they kept an eye on him…..if he lost a quarter pound in every ten bags ….it was a lot.

 

DC:     It would add up.

 

MC:     You know……that’s the way he went …..

 

DC:     So life for workers was quite hard…there was long hours …you didn’t have that many rights.

 

MC:     I worked in it for a whole year for nothing….to get into Carroll’s at the time; it was the place to get into….he had a very big clientele going in …..Ya know, very posh and some of them were lovely people….and some of them were devils coming in….they really showed their authority …..your only a shop assistant and I’m Mrs such a one…..like that type of thing…..there was some of them lovely people….you couldn’t wish for anything nicer but ….I remember refusing to do one thing a certain man came in, a big shot too……and he said I have bottles in the car I want them brought in….so Mr Carroll said May he said go out and bring the bottles in from Mr Such and such’s car……I went out and there was a big basket like a big tub …you know there was two handles and when I saw it was full of bottles …..and I said well I cant lift that…I couldn’t even get it out of the car and I just came back in and Mr Carroll said did you bring in the bottles and I said No Mr Carroll I didn’t because I couldn’t lift the basket and I’m not bringing them in….so he sent out one of the boys and it took him all his time to lift it...the thing was that full…..that was the type ….you had to bring the stuff out for them and put it in the car and even then like that you had to go out and empty it and bring them in….you know.

 

DC:     You were at their beck and call…..do you think there was much class distinction in Kells? Did the upper class sort of look down on the lower classes

 

MC:     Ah yeah there was ….there was plenty of that you know…..plenty of it but they …..as I said some of them were lovely people …I was very fond of three or four of them but there was two I used to hate to see them coming in…..in the heel of the hunt…they were broke, they were working at someone else’s money  at the time…. He ran a yearly bill with some of them and when they would be paying the yearly bill ….they would want a big reduction when they were paying the bill…and their would be people coming in paying the bill with big families and paying as much and paying weekly and they never got a penny off their bill….you know that type of thing.

 

DC:     So you saw it all…..do then after Carroll’s what did you do? After you finished in Carroll’s

 

MC:     I started myself…..

 

DC:     In your own little shop.

 

MC:     Work never started until then….my father didn’t want me in any account to start on my own……he said you have to think long and hard about this and he said the boy and the girl can put there hand out for a weeks wages doesn’t know how lucky they are, and how true he was to a point ……..there was Saturday’s I came home and my head was splitting with worry …where was I going to get the money to pay for stuff…but it kinda came then …whipped Ice-cream was started then…it was on the go and I wanted a machine….the machine at that stage …the first one I got was about 4,000 at the time and sure….the man nearly went off his head when I gave him the price….but an uncle of mine stood to me to get the loan of four and I got it….

 

DC:     Guarantee.

 

MC:     I had it paid back in a year with the Ice-cream ….from now, meeting people and all the first thing the say “May your ice-cream we never got anything like it”  …..it was the type of stuff …there was two ice-creams you could buy….there was a cheap one and a dear one…..the cheap one was 4.00 a gallon and it came in a plastic bag, in a lovely cardboard….real strong cardboard box…all you had to do was cut the top of it and pour it into the machine…..now that was four pounds a box and the other one was 7.00 and I bought the seven…one traveller said May your mad …..hot weather they wont appreciate good stuff they would take anything….I said no I had that in my mind that I want the best….and I couldn’t keep it going I was that busy with it ….I sold more Ice-cream than a big shop in Dublin and everyone says May your Ice-cream nobody ever came up to it…..but that is why I bought the dear one…..and I sold ten times more of it than I would have on the cheaper one…..

 

DC:     So you became famous for your ice-cream….

 

MC:     I remember when the Pope was coming to Dublin and we were up in the Phoenix Park, before seven o clock in the morning and we met this man and he said …ha ha that would be a very cold morning for an Ice-cream…..and he was a steward up there and I never remember seeing the man in my life before but he knew us…..

 

DC:     He knew of you…..

 

MC:     there was a lot of men from Dublin who used to go fishing and they would come down to Lough Leane and Lough Sheelan…..they would come in to us at night  when they would be going down to get fresh bread and milk for the weekend and all…..it was probably maybe one of them….

 

DC:     He knew you and you didn’t know him ….that kind of way.

 

MC:     Yeah and apart from that to I used to sell Valentine cards….Id go in a big way to Valentines….we had big ones and they were called puppets and they were musical and you would never break them……they would never break except you broke them it was a wind….and you know if you were gentle with the wind...it would never break….I think at that stage they were 8.00 each the cards….but they stood about that size……I remember when a man came in and he was a vet…..he asked how much were the valentines cards and Philo was showing them to him…that was my sister…..we had little ones right up to the very big ones and he said how much was those and he pointed to them …..because they were eye catching ones…..they were lovely really……and Philo said 8.00…….8.00 he said you would hire a band for less than that…..and Philo said it’s a good job there is not too many like you said she….or they wouldn’t need to manufacture them…..well she stuck him to the ground……..another fellow came in and he bought a card….not a big one ….you know in-between ….it was around the five…and when he posted it wasn’t there a postal strike…..and he persecuted us, he came back to know what he could do…..she didn’t get the card ….I said sure what can we do abut it…you posted it …but he had us persecuted he really thought that we would give him the money back….because the card was mislaid…so I don’t know whether she ever got it.                       

 

DC:     She probably didn’t…..she had probably gone off him by that stage anyway…he probably did her no good….

 

MC:     Then I had Easter eggs from six old pence to 80.00…..and we sold every one of them (May shows Danny a picture from 1984 of all the Easter eggs she sold in her shop) …when the different seasons would come I would always turn that part of the shop into what the season wanted…you know like Easter, Christmas, Valentines…all the special things went in there ….now these were (referring to photograph) the six penny ones on the ground and these were all the big eggs ……that one is much the same as well…..

 

DC:     It’s great you have a photograph to record it…..

 

MC:     That’s a close up of one corner taken by myself……that’s a little one she would always be in the shop…..when there was Waster eggs she would be in her glory in the middle of them you know….we had big baskets like  (referring to photograph)

 

DC:     A big chocolate face on the young one too……there she is again

 

MC:     You see there was s big toy with it…….

 

DC:     Its bigger than her!…the Easter egg is nearly as big as her.

 

MC:     That’s just a repeat I took and that’s a few of myself….do you see that there (referring to photograph)

 

DC:     Where is that ….is that in Ireland?

 

MC:     No, in Spain and what that was ….what holy day was in Spain at the time….that is actually the roadway ...that’s all petals of flowers

 

DC:     Is that what is.

 

MC:     And when you would be finishing at night them streets were bare….and when you get up the next morning they would be like that….there are all petals look…..

 

DC:     It was like a floral tribute ……

 

MC:     But you weren’t allowed walk on it ….

 

DC:     No you couldn’t.

 

MC:     Corpus Christi.

 

DC:     Corpus Christy in June.

 

MC:     you were allowed…..there was little stepladders up ….you could stand on them and take the photograph but you weren’t allowed to walk…..you would see them all here and they wouldn’t dare walk on them….

 

DC:     It’s lovely…….so you had a little holiday…a little trip

 

MC:     Ah now….well Helen and myself used to go every year on a holiday…

 

DC:     Did you….its great to have those……Remind me May, cause I’m new to Kells….where exactly was your shop.

 

MC:     Do you know where the butcher is here in Cannon Street….

 

DC:     Doherty’s……oh is that where it was…..

 

MC:     Seven owners from when I sold it…..

 

DC:     Is that right…and when did you give it up or when did you sell it roughly…..a good few years ago ….was it?

 

MC:     My brother died suddenly in ’82 and kind of the bottom fell out of everything….he died suddenly on his way to Navan in the car….it took then half the day to break the news to us….they came and told us he had a little turn and I wanted to go up and see him in Navan…..no no you cant…..years ago …..but it took them about half a day to tell us…to get the message across….I was very unsettled after that because he used to do the VAT for me and he used to price stuff and when he died ….there was two of us left and if anything happened one or the others….you would never manage you know…I had it in my mind then I’m going to sell….and then unfortunately I started wool…and that was the greatest mistake of all……it really was …….

 

DC:     So you gave it up around 1982 or soon after that…

 

MC:     Ay… (Shows Danny another photo)  That was Gladys and I at badminton….

 

DC:     So you’re involved in the badminton club as well? Amongst other things in Kells.

 

MC:     (May shows Danny a different photo) this must have been….I found ….Kells football team the time they won the championship.

 

DC:     There is no date on the back….

 

MC:     He was always at me to date something.

 

DC:     It’s a must…

 

MC:     He was always at me over it….but sure …..

 

DC:     You would always be able to work it out but it makes life easier when they are dated……

 

MC:     This one is dated 1966…that’s a cousin of mine...he taught down in the Community school…

 

DC:     Not PJ Caffrey.

 

MC:     No…my mothers side of the family he is Garry….

 

DC:     If there was another book was done on Kells ….we could get a loan of some of them ….a copy of some of those photos cause you have a great collection ….

 

MC:     They brought out a lovely book at one stage about Eureka…..I got that one alright….you know.

 

DC:     I have seen it…..

 

MC;     And… the nun that was over that Sr. Benignus, she died there just the month or so before Christmas.

 

DC:     She was a big age 95 or so…

 

MC:     95/96 I don’t know which and her mind was as clear then as it was when she was a young nun….she had a wonderful brain altogether you know…..

 

DC:     Big into Maths I believe … A great teacher.

 

MC:     She really was you know…a lot of them they were very dedicated in what they did …..they wanted perfection all of the time and that type….she helped young ones that were you know a little bit backward and she took them out of hours and gave them grinds and all…..you know they wouldn’t do it now ….they would not….

 

DC:     Out and above the call of duty…..I believe you’re a great woman for the GAA you were at the Meath / Cavan final in 1949…..

 

MC:     1949 that was the first time I was in Croke Park and I went with my father and Benny and his girlfriend and in those days you didn’t book your seat you paid at the gate and you had to queue for hours but we were queuing for hours and I saw the boys gong in with stretchers you know……a couple of them and I saw the gate open ….in those days there was a sideline in Croke Park ….you know what a sideline is….you were sitting beside the pitch…….

 

DC:     I do….I do….

 

MC:     They pitch was slightly bumpy but I got in …..Benny said to me how did you get in there and I told him and he said …thousands at it and my first time in Croke Park and I did this …….and I didn’t know anything better of the danger …and didn’t he wait and when we were coming back out with other things ….didn’t he just slip in and got in as well….and my father was left with the flasks of tea and the sandwiches….and got  a place in Croke Park and we had ringside seats for it …..you know by getting in there and it cost nothing extra…..but he gave out ….we had nothing to eat….and I remember we were sitting beside two Kerry men and they were eating …….do you know the cheese…… cheddar….they were eating the cheddar cheese like you would eat an apple……they shared some of it with my brother …..I wouldn’t eat it of course and they had minerals…..I took the mineral alright…but that is what kept us going for the whole day…..we left here at 6 o clock in the morning and trying to get into the game and it not till 3 o clock and nothing to eat but it was our own fault…….it was worth it…the first time ever…..I think Benny had a baby Ford at the time and I think 6 of us went in the Baby Ford…we were smothered going up….but it got us there and back alright…..

 

DC:     You remember that big occasion and have you followed the GAA since….the Meath team …..

 

MC:     Oh yeah …hurling preferable to Football…….

 

DC:     You prefer hurling to Football.

 

MC:     I love hurling…..I suppose cause I played camogie you know….something like that there was a lot of them around that time…..the girls played camogie and they liked their hurling after that …it’s a far better game than football….

 

DC:     It’s supposed to be the 2nd fastest game on earth after Ice Hockey…..its spectacular to watch.

 

MC:     When the ball is hit probably it reaches speeds of 70 mile an hour….and I remember one time hitting it and it hit a girl on the shin ….and you would just think ……just like that you could see it cutting down the shin….and the awful stitching around it ….to catch a hurling ball going fast it would break your hand…you would have to be very ……skilful at it ….

 

DC:     Absolutely…

 

MC:     Again my brother always maintained …..people would always say it’s a very dangerous game…...its not….he maintained when you get an injury playing hurling it’s a open cut and it can be attended to there and then or a couple of days after it….but in football a kick in the small of the back and kick in the kidneys and it could come again you for six months….you know but the hurling can be dealt with there and then …..you can here the shins…you know you could hear them hitting and if it connects with a fellow you can hear it like…..there was a very funny one there about three years ago ….a referee, I saw it on telly and Meath wasn’t playing in it….but he threw in the ball….and do you know when the throw in the ball they swipe to get at it …..It cut the legs of him….he didn’t stand far enough back…like you know he went down…you know…he was alright after a while…..to think a belt of a Hurley….and then to when you are warm you don’t feel it as much…the referee was only starting the game ….but its his own fault he stood in to near…

 

DC:     He copped it…yeah….would you have gone to many games Gael Colmcille.

 

MC:     No not really.

 

DC:     More the bigger.

 

MC:     Because there is a reason I don’t follow the club stuff…..my brother was in that and he was secretary of the Meath minors board for I don’t know how many years……there was a presentation over in the Gaelic Centre of a young fellow who won a Handball All Ireland…and they were having a night out for him over there and Benny was at it and to discover that there was none of the Gael Colmcille players present at the presentation and he got up and gave his spiff and said it wasn’t every day or even every year that a young fellow brought an All Ireland to the town …handball ….and he kindly said it was a disgrace that the club wasn’t represented ….to honour the young fellow and all…..I wasn’t at it but I believe that he gave a great spiff about it……but two days later he got a letter banning him from Gael Colmcille because he dared to speak out like he did about them….and I said to hell with them …I wont support them and I didn’t …..maybe I shouldn’t have but I was very sore about it as well ….they should have had somebody out of the club representing the club on the presentation of the young fellow the All Ireland Medal…..and then they got thick…I think they banned him for six weeks or something….and said he couldn’t go over……so after that I just didn’t follow them ….you know.

 

DC:     You turned your back on them…

 

MC:     Well I go to all the ….

 

DC:     Big games.

 

MC:     The ones I can get a ticket for….the chap in the town gets me one…..he never ever ….let us town….the two of us, he gave us tickets all the time…then I go to the hurling ones myself..

 

DC:     In Croke Park?

 

MC:     Oh anywhere……

 

DC:     Anywhere where there is a good hurling game……

 

MC:     I have a little mark there on my forehead where I was opening the car door…I was opening it in PortLaoise….and didn’t I open the car door and didn’t I bang it and it was…thought I forgot something…I was half in and half out and it just ripped me there ….so a man I know brought me and said come on there is only a few of us left …..I’ll have to see to you….and he brought me into the Meath dressing room where all the fellows were and there was a nurse there and she dollied it up…..it could have done with two stitches….like do you know the very top of the car door….oh will I ever forget it….so I have that as a reminder of the day …..

 

DC:     A little memento…..of the occasion……its not that obvious but it’s a little memento….I don’t want to tire you out ….but just one last thing…you have lived all your life in Suffolk street…obviously a lot of people have come and gone and houses have changed ..so would you just talk for a couple of moments about Suffolk street down through the years …perhaps the different people who have come and gone…..any changes you have noticed…

 

MC:     There was a Cinema in Suffolk Street….it was a very busy little street all the time….I’ll tell you a funny one when I’m finished with this but you had to go when you were going to the railway….that was the main way of going to the Christian Brothers…..going to the Tech...going to the shoe factory….this street was very busy…….very busy street always…..turn off this And I will tell you the one about ….they were in the Christian brothers do you see and there was religious instructions going on ….when this young fellow came in and he was late ….and the priest said to him…well ? who died on the Cross….he said I don’t know father I came by Cannon Street…..because the Cross (Cross of Kells) was below he went to school…..he could have came down by the Cross and it was a straight run over from the bull ring as they call it…..and he could have gone down that way…and straight..but he used to come down Cannon street……it was a little bit long and …and said he I don’t know Father I came by Cannon Street…he was just asking the question at the wrong time…but that actually did happen…you know the young fellow….I suppose when something is pounced on you like that you know…..

 

DC:     So he just wasn’t trying to be funny he ….

 

MC:     The priest was talking about our Lord …and the other fellow took it as someone was after dying on his way down to school…..there is lots of houses…there used to be a forge over here

 

DC:     I didn’t know …just opposite…that would have done a big trade at one time……with all the horses and carts…

 

MC:     There was three blacksmiths in Kells at a time…do you know where Centra is now.

 

DC:     Yes.

 

MC:     That was Bartle Fitzsimons forge there…then Pa Gibney had this one over here …..then there was Tevlin’s in Carrick Street…..they had a forge as well…..so you have Centra instead of a Forge ….flats over here instead of a forge ….what else is there, anything else in this street….

 

DC:     Is there any other interesting business or trades….that have gone disappeared….the forge the cinema….

 

MC:     There was a shoe maker up the top of the street…..John Mallon …he did very well and then of course Jim Clarke the Photographer….the son…his daughter was married to ?? and there son is still there …..but he doesn’t take photographs ..he only trims down what the mother takes you know that type of thing….puts them in albums and all like that…..

 

DC:     And would there be any other families like yourself who lived in the street all of their lives…..

 

MC:     There was one down in the bottom, Nellie Mc Cormack…..Cella Cummins was born and reared in Suffolk Street but she married and went up the other end of the town and then when her parents died she came back ….lets see now was there anybody else…funny when you say that….Geraghty’s are down there ….they were born and reared in the street too as well…….looking back very few of the older ….of no relation is in that whole far side of the street…..they are all different from what I remember you know….

 

DC:     Big changes over the years and people have come and gone …..with the exceptions of Geraghty’s …and there is a Clarke below where Jim Carolan the Councillor was born…....down at the end of the street…there was obviously Carolans there at one stage……

 

MC:     I don’t know really….I just remember them like you know...and whether they were there all there life…I don’t know really…

 

DC:     They are gone now anyway…..

 

MC:     Now I’m trying to think down along …..Oh, Bob Bell he was born and reared in this street as well…..

 

DC:     You have seen some big changes in the street and in the town during your life….

 

MC:     Oh I did …it’s a different lifestyle altogether ...well naturally….you could go out and leave your front door open ……and nothing you know would ever happen ....nobody would do any damage to anybody …..I saw in the chronicle where there was a bus taken in Kells and burnt out in Girley bog……

 

DC:     Yeah Oliver Usher found it going for his Sunday walk …they had some temerity to do that.

 

MC:     Yeah like the amount of money that …and they think that’s funny….

 

DC:     That’s not funny…..

 

MC:     But sure however I always maintain they will have to answer for some things some day…

 

DC:     They will …..Gurriers… and they ruined the bog or part of the bog or the trail anyway…it’s a lovely spot…I walk out there myself…..

 

MC:     that’s where an uncle of mine used to cut turf……out at the bog….many’s a summer I stayed on the bog and the best tan I ever got was bog tan…..

 

DC:     From the heat …from the sun……so you did a stint cutting turf out on the bog…

 

MC:     Yeah, I know how you cut it and throw it up to the man and he foots it ….and there is a name on the next thing they do…..and then they clamp it…there’s three …they spread it ….they turn it then ….the get it up and put it in little …..what do they call it foot…like that about four sods and when it is dry enough then they take it up and they build a clamp…..the longer and the higher it is the better…I remember all that right enough…and then going and bringing it home…drawing it home….

 

DC:     So you have a bit of experience of that life in the countryside…as well as the town…in those days we had the trains...we had the buses…we still had lovely ponies and traps going around ...you had the best of both worlds….you were moving into modern society yet you had the older one.

 

DC:     You had a good blend of both where as now you have moved too far in one direction…

 

MC:     Exactly…no it was good…it really was…

 

DC:     And did you use the cinema much below….

 

MC:     We weren’t allowed….we were allowed the matinee on a Sunday and if you didn’t go to the matinee you couldn’t ask to go during the week because you weren’t allowed go …and that’s all that was to it…….and in those days when parents said no they meant no….I would have went every night if I got the chance….

 

DC:     There is a Tommy Morris living in Suffolk street now…

 

MC:     There is a house between he and us…well he originally lived in Church lane…

 

DC:     Is that where he is from…

 

MC:     I’m not sure actually I don’t know whether he was born out in Rosmeen or not…..the father had a farm out there…then came into the town…and then he married Mary out here….

 

DC:     I did send him a letter a while back I might follow up on  him and see has he a few things to tell me as well…..

 

MC:     He might be able to remember better than I would…its only little bits of things that is coming back ……

 

DC:     You have done very well….very well……I sent Mary Rogers a letter too…Kitty McEntee explained to me she is quite deaf.

 

MC:     Very deaf…..

 

DC:     She said the best way would be to go through Paddy Rogers the son…and see if we could organise something that way…

 

MC:     She would be real interesting too……but then she wasn’t born in Suffolk Street…..she was born up the country somewhere….

 

DC:     Was she…..

 

MC:     I cant remember ….she was a nun for a while….you know……she was in the convent ….she left it ….I don’t know how long ….now she told me that herself but I don’t know how long she was in it or whether she went to be professed….don’t think she went as far at that ….and then she came out and she was working in the town here for somebody ….and Jimmy Rogers the bread man she married ……

 

DC:     Down in Headfort place for a while…were they?  Is that where they were…someone told me they were…

 

MC:     Well I don’t know really……

 

DC:     So she had been the street for a while….

 

MC:     She is 98 this year….she is a marvellous woman….and she does her own baking and she has two dogs and I don’t know how many cats she has ….she feeds Paul Murphy’s dog as well….she calls it “Murphy”, when our two are going for a walk down the street, there is a little gate between her house and Paul’s house….oh the whole town knows when I’m going for a walk ….they kick up such a racket to get your man to bark out…you see…..she has a great outlook on things …..

 

DC:     Has she…..

 

MC:     Beautiful skin not a blotch on it…she is going a little bit stooped now…in the last couple of years but other than that now ……she worked hard all her life…you know…

 

DC:     And she has lived to be 98 so she has obviously lead a good life, a healthy life …

 

MC:     Exactly…

 

DC:     I’ll talk to Paddy, and see what is the best way to talk to her…..

 

MC:     It will be hard on you…… you know……

 

DC:     Cause she is a bit deaf…..I might have to write out some questions for Paddy and he might have to ask them or do it somehow like that or get around it

 

MC:     I think she worked with Lacys….the solicitors she worked in the house there….I don’t think she worked anywhere else, Id say that ….I could be very wrong now….cause I didn’t know her until she came to Suffolk Street…you know…she was a good woman….her brothers got sick…she brought them all in and minded them before they died….and a man called Charlie……Charlie….I have to tell the storey and I don’t know the name….but he worked in Fitzsimons years ago this Charlie….the name might come back to me and when he got sick …she minded him as well…and he no relation to her or anything like that at all…Charlie….no its gone….

 

DC:     it’s gone out of your head….

 

MC:     No she was good like that ….you know she was a good natured woman and she had only one of a family and he turned out very well….you know…..

 

DC:     The solicitor…..that’s great you know you have told be quiet a lot May in the hour or so…you have done well…..

 

MC:     School was hard in those days I really enjoyed it …..I didn’t like to study …

 

DC:     And you had the pressure of the Leaving certificate hanging over your head…

 

MC:     That’s why I wouldn’t do it….Benny, Lord have Mercy on him…he was going great at it …you know …..he was really very good he was a great man at the Maths and things like that too…..and then that cousin…..it kind of ran in that end of the family….like you know but I wasn’t interested at all in school…I had no time for it…..I couldn’t …..I don’t know wheat it was I just wouldn’t bother ….lazy…..

 

DC:     But you have no regrets anyway….

 

MC:     No not one I would do the same again

 

DC:     Of course you would……so if there is any last thing you want to say your welcome and if you forget something and you remember it later sure we can always……I can always talk to you again.  I’ll knock it off then…..

   

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