A spare bedroom, connected into a music room. Here I can relax whilst listening to my favourite musical pieces. On the left side of the room, there is a large window which lets in the sun. I can see the blue sky. The music sets my mind wandering and before long my eyes are closed and I am drifting back to the days of my childhood.
The summer school holidays have begun. Six weeks of pure freedom now in front of us. What to do. In those days you could count on endless warm days - ideal swimming weather but where to swim? Our town (Templemore) had a large lake compliments of the Cardens who ruled our town for years. The lake wasn’t an ideal place for swimming, too deep in parts and not suitable for splashing about. But wait … we had the Suir river and also Shelley’s river which flowed beside Shelley’s field which had been part of the Carden’s estate. The river is known as the Mall and also Shelley’s river (Irish logic), flows past Scott’s Lodge and meets up with the Suir further on. The Suir River flowed a little distance from our town and not too far to get there for us Mary Street lads. A section of the Suir river between Aughall Bridge and the Boarden Bridge (it was a timber bridge spanning the railway but we kids called it the Boarden Bridge as we had to cross it to get down to the river). This section was named Paddy’s River I presume because the owner of the field was called Paddy. So Irish logic awarded Paddy to own that section of the River.
There were two ways to get to Paddy’s River – the direct way from Clonmore road through Hickey’s Lane (more Irish logic) and straight to the Boarden Bridge. The roundabout way was past the Catholic Church where the good people of our town went regularly to leave their sins behind them. Further on there was a large quarry partly filled with water and part dry land. This part was used for the good people of our town to leave their rubbish behind them. On the right of the road was a local Churchyard. You could look down at the many graves, some without headstones, some little mounds of earth. Thomas Gray probably had these in mind when he wrote:
“Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid,
Some heart once pregnant with Celestial Fire;
Hands, that the Rod of Empire might have sway’d,
Or waked to ecstasy the Living Lyre.”
Further down the road on the right side a group of houses built by the Carden’s to house the weavers, who were brought down from Northern Ireland.
To the right and up the Laneway, we passed the small quarry the water a little cleaner than its big brother but not for swimming. Ambling up the lane we met up with Hickey’s lane. At this crossing was a mound of earth which we believed was a Fairy Fort. We never saw a fairy or indeed a crock of gold. On this piece of land there was a small pond with clear water. We spent some time there catching ting fish called pinkeens which we put in jam jars filled with water. Sometimes we let them go when we reached Paddys River, hoping they would grow bigger, but with all the splashing about the poor pinkeens never had a chance.
After our swim and nicely refreshed we lay on the bank of the river soaking up the warm sun and listening to the sound of nature all around. The song of the lark singing as it flew from a height then landing far from its nest - a ploy to fool the cuckoo who liked to steal the eggs of other birds. Then the blackbird and the thrushes played hide and seek in the hedges. The corncrake in the distance singing its song, a sound that’s only heard in summertime. Then in the distance from our church the sound of bells, the Angelus was ringing and as good lads we blessed ourselves and said the Hail Mary. What a beautiful sound… ‘Bells across the Meadows’, in the background to accompany the sound of birds singing, the quiet murmur of a breeze and the tingling of the waters of Paddy’s River.
A wonderful start to the school holiday.!! Amen.
-Dan O’Meara resides in Sydney, Australia. The above is his latest account of childhood memories in the 30’s/early 40’s in Templemore. Unfortunately, due to illness he has been unable to visit his home town in the past few years. He is however in constant touch with relations and friends, receives the ‘Star’ regularly, and is well up to date with the goings on in the town.
“Go nEiri an bother leat”