CORBALLY JOINS THE PARISH:
“A further enlargement of the parish occurred in October, 1961, when Bishop Henry Murphy incorporated most of the Corbally area in the Parish of St. Mary’s. The people in these new estates – College Park, Janemount Park, Richmond, Roseville, Rosendale, Park Gardens, Irish Estates, as well as Corbally Road, as far as Athlunkard Bridge, and the Mill Road and the Old Park Road, all these had been in St. Patrick’s Parish, but few ever went to St. Patrick’s Church, as St. Mary’s Church was so much nearer then. An extra Curate had to live in Corbally in Plassey Avenue to cater for the pastoral needs of so many extra houses. It also necessitated the opening of a new Primary School – Scoil Íde (1964) and St. Munchin’s Diocesan College nearby had also opened in 1962.”
“But some 30 years later, there had been further developments in the area across the Shannon in Parteen Parish, with the building of Shannon Banks and Westbury estates. Consequently, Bishop Jeremiah Newman felt constrained to form a new Parish called, St. Nicholas, consisting of these new Estates on one side of the river and the Irish Estates and Mill Road on the other. The division took place on July 1st, 1991 and Fr. Oliver Plunkett became the new P.P. and the Curate in Plassey Avenue became his Curate. So, the people in Corbally who had been in St. Patrick’s Parish, found themselves in a third different parish within 30 years.” (From “A Light on the Past” by the late, Canon Connellan. PP St. Mary's)
PRINTER AND SEAMSTRESS:
It goes without saying that Nicholas Street will never again experience the commercial buzz we all knew up until the 60s and early 70s. We can, however, make use of what we have. So, this week I cite the few that still feature on that once Great Street. There is Al Ryan Printer's, The Cauldron, Treaty Brewery, Bakehouse 22 (Tracey's shop and restaurant), Across the road, is Seamless Sewing Studio, Cinema Café (formerly Stix), Spotless Cleaners, The Rock Bar. Of course, we have the Men's Shed also on that street and further up, situated on what has come to be known as the Castle Plaza, is Katy Daly's, and of course, opposite that is our increasingly vibrant King John's Castle, back in form again. It's all about making the most of what we have.
NICHOLAS STREET 1901:
Nicholas Street which was once known as the Great Street was always known for its commercial aspect during the 40s and 50s and 60s, can’t verify further back than that. It is, however, very interesting to note that in one house alone, must have been a big one, no less than 11 men lived and each one had a different occupation. According to the census they were Presbyterians born in Scotland. There was a ploughman, a miner, a shoemaker, a gardener, a bleacher, a mill worker, a sailor, a printer, a commissioner, a car owner, and finally someone who worked in a Billion Works. A similar situation existed in another building.
ANCIENT GATEWAY DISCOVERED:
Well, such exciting news emerging recently! Plans were in line to develop a brand new affordable Housing Scheme. Our Council, in its wisdom, carried out archaeological testing, realising that, due to the position of the site off Athlunkard Street, old city walls could well be discovered underground. A structure was discovered that archaeologists believe could well have been a gateway to our old town. Oh, but it is all very exciting indeed. It has been further claimed that a wall has been found stretching to 80 meters! It is great to be actually living in this area, and I, for one, simply adore the ancient area in which I live, quite unique from all the rest. Having been born close to St. Mary's Cathedral, at St. Augustine Place, I hadn't moved very far. However, a sense of local history has followed me and this recent 'find' has presented a renewed sense of historic gratification. We avidly look forward learning more about this fresh aspect of our ancient city. Come to think of it, we are walking on history!
MUNCHIN'S MILITARY MUSEUM:
Standing, as it does, in the very heart of our ancient city's past, St. Munchin's church on King's Island has been renovated by Limerick Civic Trust. It was officially opened as a Military Museum on July, 9th. According to Curator, Dr. Matthew Potter, “the focus will be on the story of the Wild Geese, the Jacobites who left Ireland for France, along with Patrick Sarsfield.” It is great to see that many exhibits from the Limerick Museum will be on view at this venue. More on this topic after I've visited the Museum.
OUR BAND PLAYS ON:
Silence reigns supreme at a venue on Mary Street that is home to the vibrant blast of musical sound (Pan Times 2020!). A zesty sound it was too, from the St. Mary's Fife and Drum Band, which was established in 1885. In times past this was also home to regular dances and was known as Todsies. Many great bands entered its portals and graced its stage, including The Empire Show Band in the 60s. The Billy Conway Band also played there, where Joe Browne, Willie Browne, Billy Conway, Jack Glynn, Dick Lynch, Kevin McMahon and John O'Grady regaled half of the Limerick city slickers. Billiards and snooker also took place here and in 1962 a game would cost 1/- (a shilling back then).
The accolades that have been accrued by this great band from their infancy are legion and in the Parish they are legendary. A well-traveled band, they possess the all-important social graces, where people are so very important to them. I maintain there is the Irish welcome, the Limerick welcome, but then, there is the St. Mary's Fife and Drum Band welcome, that has to be experienced to be believed, much in line with the Curraghgour Boat Club welcome, where no one is allowed to sit alone.
In the year 1993 they opened their Museum, where some spectacular items of times past are exhibited. Colm McGrath was afforded the honour of cutting the tape to officially open the Museum, while Canon Brendan Connellan, PP, blessed the refurbished room. As part of his address at the opening, President, Jack McGrath, read a poem that had been written by one of Limerick's outstanding citizens, WW Gleeson, (of writing and blood donating fame) and an Honorary Life Member of this renowned band.
This house is now a haunt to me
Of men I used to know,
For slowly has the change occurred
And strangers come and go.
I mind the times I used to sit
At the stove behind the wall,
And think parochial happenings
With Christy and with Paul.
But they are gone, alas,
And many others lost,
As I sit here remembering
And feel myself a ghost.
Shadows flit across the wall
Old Times, all round I see,
And wonder if I'm haunting them
Or are they haunting me?
RELICS OF OUR PAST:
I always maintain that both artists and writers are privileged because when they pass on they leave behind a legacy that cannot be erased. Their works as an Artist and a Writer can be easily accessed if in the case of the writer they have confined their output to collections, and in the case of the artist their treasured works can be seen all around the area in which they may have lived and often even much further afield. Such is the case of the above-mentioned, Willie, whose vast historic knowledge knew no bounds and this he used to full effect. WW was a great friend of my late father, John Ryan, both men linked by a common bond, that of printing.
VISIONARY RUGBY MEN:
In the book celebrating the Munster Senior Cup '85 -'86 former Shannon player and rugby International, Brian O'Brien, President of his club at that time, prefaced his address with the following lines. “To assess why any team or club could attain the success ratio of the present side, in my opinion one must go back in history to the source. Our Senior status was spawned by men of vision with the common goal of rugby excellence. Under the captaincy of MN Ryan and the coaching of Jack O'Flaherty, the back was broken in the achieving of the dream ---we won our first Senior Cup.” (That was, of course, in 1960, the club having been founded in 1884, their motto being “Fé Coimirce Mhuire”)
HUNT OPEN SPACE:
Some wonderful work is being done at the rear of the Hunt Museum. The landscaping is quite impressive and the person who is responsible for the Park's proposed 'new look' is to be commended. It promises to be a real people friendly area, and hopefully many citizens and tourists alike, will enjoy many hours of relaxation there in the years ahead. It is hoped that such a beautiful ambient will not suffer from any type of vandalism.
KING'S ISLAND FLOOD RELIEF:
What a delightful piece of good news it was to learn that 26 million euros is to be granted towards measures to forestall any further damage from any would-be future floods in our area. It is proposed that improvements as to lighting, landscaping are part of the new moves, as well as the freedom of people to walk, jog or cycle along the perimeter of the entire Island.
MAE'S OLYMPIC HOPES:
It seems were dashed when back in 1956 as our class prepared for Inter Cert, our prime local swimmer, fell foul of a stray cat who buckled any hopes she had of participating in the Olympics, despite the fact that her 'times' for the said swimming event were eligible for this august aquatic feat. She was knocked off her bicycle and suffered an incapacitating elbow injury. And, as anybody knows, the said limb is vital to the art of swimming. What a pity that was for Mae. Who knows where she might have ended up, but then, chances are, she may have put her sport ahead of he potential as a very fine writer, and think of all the joy her readers and listeners would have been deprived of! Now for little lilt of literature.
The broad Shannon sparkled
on the crossing from Tarbert
Farther out the coast of Kilkee,
along by the Diamond Rocks,
stonecrop spilled its tiny pink stars
along the rising pathway.
A gardener's temptation
got the better of me'
I pulled a root.
Despite my careful nurturing,
I was positive it had died
but today in an unkempt corner
of my garden it opened
its shell pink stars
and took me back
to the crashing waves of County Clare.
The above poem featured in a collection entitled, “I Shouldn't be Telling You This” which was published in 2011.