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The old Alms Houses, which has been home to St. Mary’s AID for many years, is situated on Nicholas Street, opposite Tracey’s shop and restaurant. They are soon to begin Community Heritage Lunchtime Talks at this venue. On November 23, this Friday, there will be a Talk on The Alms Houses in St. Mary’s Parish. On December 14, 2018, the Talk is entitled – St. Mary’s Literary Tradition, and may feature a reading from a local writer or two. Tickets cost €5, and this includes Talk, Tea, Coffee and Scones. To book a ticket or for any other information simply call 061-318106. ​


Ard Scoil Mhuire and St Munchin’s College Take a Chance on Me, featuring hit songs from the musical “Mama Mia” on November 30th, and December 1st and 2nd. Showtime 8.00pm. Venue, Millennium Theatre LIT​


The launch of my latest publication, the 12th, entitled, “Under the Upside-Down Saucer” will take place at “Nelly’s Corner” at 7.00pm on Thursday, November 29th. I will be there from 6.30pm to sign copies of the book, which is greatly augmented by some superb sketches from the pen of local Artist, Patrick Collins, who also created the magnificent covers, front and back. The book, which costs €12, €10 at the event, will be launched by renowned Limerick singer, Tommy Drennan, and there may be other musicians in attendance on the night. All are welcome to attend. Sandwiches will be available.​


I have had a glance at the recently published ‘Old Limerick Journal’ in a bookshop and as always, it is simply superb. I observed that it includes a Part Three article on the Parish of St. Mary’s, a most wonderful looking piece indeed by an exceptionally well-informed historian, John Carrol, famed for his 12 noon brilliant history programme on Limerick City Community Radio every Sunday. As I do not read any local publications until at leisure over the festive season, I cannot give my appraisal of this consistently outstanding publication, except to say very well done to the Editor, Tom Donovan and his astute team of contributors!​


“But it seems to be a law peculiar to Ireland that as long as pubs continue to remain closed, people will try to get in. It matters not that they are open 363 days of the year. Most drinkers seem to develop an insatiable thirst on the other two days. A character in ‘The Parish’ acquired this insatiable thirst one Good Friday. He decided to try his luck at a well-known Parish hostelry where he was a regular customer. Having proceeded to the side door, he gave a couple of judicious knocks. Eventually, the proprietor came on the scene. “Whose there?” he hissed from behind the door. “Tis me, Joe,” came the pleading reply. “Joe who,” barked the proprietor. “Joe Spillane,” came the hopeful response. “And what do you want, Joe? demanded the proprietor. “Is there any chance of an oul’ pint, Dick?” he replied while adding diplomatically, “I’m on my own.” “Well, why don’t you go off and get a crowd!” came the rapid reply. I never heard whether or not he did manage to get a crowd. Perhaps he saw the light and buzzed off to the Jesuits!​

Finally, I must mention those characters who, ostensibly, never set out to have a drink on Good Friday, yet always manage to end up ‘paralytic’. It would appear when it comes to abstaining, man is not always master of his own destiny and the fates are always conspiring to waylay the unwary. And I remember those ‘innocents’ who always left home on Good Friday to go for a walk, an honest intention by all accounts. But Good Friday, if one can believe them, seems to be the day when Satan is at his diabolical worst, prowling the city streets to ensnare the innocent. For, as they would afterwards relate, (and they all seemed to relate the same story), they were innocently passing by a pub when the door mysteriously opened wide and they were literally ‘sucked in.’ They were barely inside when some people whom they had never met before, ‘poured drink into them’ despite their protests. “Why didn’t they come home then,” they would later be asked “and extricate them from their predicament?” “How could they?” they would answer indignantly, “Didn’t the publican have the door bolted and refused to open it for them!” Yes, publicans have a lot to answer for.” (From an article entitled, “Limerick – Behind Closed Doors” from The Old Limerick Journal, Christmas, in the ‘80s) Final part of this engrossing article next week, which can now be confined to the history books, as it’s a case of Open Day now on Good Friday.​


“But I often say to myself, what a dull city Limerick would be without all those wayward individuals whose activities on Good Fridays – and other times – have added spice to our city’s history and enlivened our dull existences with many a colourful yarn. There are those of course, who find little humour in the doings of such people and would have their city like their lawns, weed free. They have a point, no doubt, and they can eloquently paint a picture of a futuristic Limerick that conforms to the ideal in every way: litter-free streets, modern buildings and every citizen diligent and responsible. I have, in the past, been almost convinced by them until the ghost of Gerard Manley Hopkins stirred uneasily within me and his lines passed reproachfully through my mind:​

“What would the world be, once bereft,​

Of wet and wilderness? Let them be left,​

Oh, let them be left, wilderness and wet,​

Long live the leaves and the wilderness, yet.”​

Amen, I say to that, long live the leaves, wilderness and all those Limerick characters. Long live the Good Friday drinkers!” (This piece marks the conclusion of one literary gem which was penned by Parish man, Finbar Crowe, and first appeared in the Christmas edition of The Old Limerick Journal, 1987)My sincere thanks to the writer, Finbar, for allowing the re-publication of this precious piece​


It is interesting to note that on the front cover of that particular Journal is the unmistakable picture of the late Séamus Ó’Cinnéide, dressed in Bardic attire, complete with ceremonial sword. To his right and with her hand placed on Séamus’s arm is Charlotte Dunbar, of Thomondgate, and daughter of the outstanding poet, T.J. Dunbar, whose lasting publication is entitled, “A Garland of Verse,’ that was printed in Dublin. In that publication that runs to 123 pages, the poet grieves for the late Bard of Thomond in a poem entitled, ‘A Poet’s Grave.’ I was a frequent visitor to the home of Charlotte and her sister Beatrice (Beatty) next door on Lansdowne Terrace in the 90s. They were the friendliest of people and I must admit to being grateful to them for gifting me a perfect copy of their late father’s precious literary gem. Both sisters have since passed on and had one other sister name Gwendolene. Below is but three verses of that poem I mentioned, the poet would have known the Bard. I may pick up further on this relatively unknown great Limerick poet of Scottish origin.​


Dear Bard, whose worth lived all alone,​

While sweet the strains thy wild harp made,​

No humble tribute stands, nor stone,​

To mark the spot where thou art laid.​

Yet, from the distant city gay,​

Here, where December’s chill winds rave;​

One kindred spirit comes to lay,​

This laurel chaplet on thy grave.​

Great singer of the South! Whose name,​

By future tongues shall reverenced be,​

Graved in the golden scroll of Fame,​

Though once the cold world frowned on thee.​


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