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What a day! What an aquatic event! It was the ultimate in top class organisation, huge entry, and a massive following. Yes indeed, the revived King's Island Swim has been running since 2015 and thanks to the outstanding dedication of Mark Dempsey, son of the late swimming coach, John, has gained momentum, the entry this year reaching to almost 350 brave swimmers who travelled from many parts of Ireland, and of course, included a large contingency of local swimming enthusiasts. Hundreds of followers could be seen in the vicinity of our oldest Boat Club, that of the Curraghgour, established in 1877. With an outdoor shower to refresh in following the 3.8K aquatic feat, and a drone doing its job overhead, such efficiency was admirable! The sun shining brightly all the while.
In all, twenty clubs from all over Ireland participated and benefits from the swim will go to the Children's Grief Centre. Limerick Narwhales are to be highly congratulated. They have expressed their gratitude to all the volunteers and sponsors who together, helped to make this outstanding event run so smoothly. Gratitude was also extended to Limerick Search and Rescue, Athlunkard Boat Club, Shannon Paddlers, Civil Defence, Suicide Watch, the Hunt Museum, Treaty City Brewery, and of course, to their loyal host Club, the Curraghgour, who excel in the joy of genuine hospitality, and how welcome is their Bill of Fare following a swim of just under three miles!
If, perhaps, I had the forethought to have a few hundred copies printed of my publication entitled, “Ten Lamb Chops For a Pound” prior to heading of to Kilkee early in June, I would have done very well indeed. So many people were asking for this book which initially saw the light of day in 2014, and there was a second print a few years later. Anyway, back to 'The Costa'. Since I was called upon to perform a few readings this year, eagerness on the part of the people grew and grew and I had just about a book for myself. Just to mention a matter of current interest that one may come across in this publication. You may recall my reference to the return of that box-office blockbuster, 'Pigtown' by Mike Finn, in November. Well, you will find a resume of that said outstanding play in my book. Tommy Clocks was brilliantly played by Brendan Conroy back in 1999. And Patrick Ryan, very fine actor, who happened to be one of the pupils in the said play, featured as Garda Paudge in 'Red Rock', a worthwhile series that is being re-run late at night.
Recently, the death of Joe Kerley, of St. Mary's Park, was greeted with great sadness, not alone by locals, but his fame as a scintillating soccer player, much further afield also. Joe was such a familiar figure in and around his native area. He was a person people were glad to meet, who went quietly about his business, always on his feet and agile up to the end. The esteem with which he was held by his comrades in Star Rovers was clearly evident in the manner in which that great club attended to his sad passing. En route from his residence to the church on the day of his burial, the cortege stopped outside the clubhouse for a brief few moments out of respect and a massive applause was heard mid many heartfelt tears. Then, the cortege continued, flanked by a truly admirable guard of honour from Star Rovers Club, on down to the church. It was loyalty personified to a man who had spent decades training the youth of the Parish in the art of that sport he loved so well and played so superbly. We extend our sympathy to his siblings, his extended family and many sporting friends. His familiar presence will surely be missed in our area.
The annual Island Swim will take place on this Saturday, September 3rd from the Curraghgour Boat Club around 11am. This aquatic event always attracts an amount of interest and we wish all the brave participants the very best. Well done to the hard-working organisors also!
For many decades now, John Costelloe has operated a highly successful top-class antiques emporium on Nicholas Street, beside what is now known as Cinema Café. However, in addition to all the goings and comings, transactions etc. that transpires from week to week, John's creative side shines through like a beacon. His window displays are a visual delight. As far as sport is concerned, John is given to eclecticism, favouring no one sport over another. As might have been expected, he has quite a display focusing on the three-in a-row victory by our brilliant Limerick hurling team who earlier this year displayed athleticism at its highest level, the very Everest of sport, as life in the sporting arena stands. In this window the proprietor uses every available space to capture the moment, not alone of this year's victory, but also has newspaper cuttings from past games. If there had been a competition for window displays following that superb victory, no doubt John would have been a huge contender, if not indeed, an outright winner! Well done to him!
National Learning Network
provides a range of free flexible full training for those out of work due to an accident, illness or disability, early school leavers or those leaving school and needing extra support to help get a job or go on to further education and training.  We are having an Open Day on Wednesday 24th August from 11am to 1pm at our Centre in Raheen Business Park or alternatively contact 061 229777 to arrange a visit.
It was definitely music to my ears upon hearing on local radio recently, that the mighty feast of live performance 'Pigtown' penned by our doyen of playwights, Mike Finn, will be returning to the Lime Tree theatre in November. This superb play, where the main player is a fellow by the name of Tommy Clocks, (we are introduced to him laid out in a coffin!),had packed houses riveted back in the late 90s and again in the early 2000s. For me personally, this 'out of the blue' return is like a dream come true, as I never thought I would see it again. When it played at the Belltable all those years ago I attended no less than four times, and cried at the end of each performance. Of course, the singing of 'The Isle' may have had a bearing plus the fact that Tommy Clocks was such a lovable character. We wish our theatrical hero, Mike Finn, the very best of luck with this renewed effort. I can already imagine the Limerick people flocking to it in droves.
Back in the 1800s, the extensive bog surrounding Kilkee was very valuable in providing cheap fuel. In Spring tide and after storms a large amount of seaweed was available and was collected by carts and people with kishes (wicker baskets) on their backs. Twelve month old seaweed was considered the best manure. Most of the women wore coarse, home-made flannel gowns and petticoats. Very few of them wore stockings and shoes. The men were dressed in grey, heavy coarse woollen coats and they wore boots and stockings. The linen they wore was surprisingly well coloured. Most of the linen was grown, spun and manufactured locally. Supplies of fish depended on the weather but there was a plentiful amount of mutton. Milk, butter and bread were also available, but vegetables were scarce. (Continued next week).
Back in the year 1788 Mary Street was an industrious street with the Directory of that year listing 18 trades will list nine this week and nine next week. George Alley was a Mercer (that I found out is a dealer in textiles, particularly silks): Thomas Alley was a Chandler: Abel Allison was a Cabinet-Maker: Ellen Ankettle was a Wine-Merchant: James Barry was a Tobacconist: Alexander Blood was a Hosier: Barron and West were Milliners: I. Barrett was a Breeches- Maker: Two Bluetts were spirit and Wine makers.
Like many more individual entities, our friendly Merns Shed that is situated on Nicholas Street opposite Invisible sewing and close to Treaty Brewery, hasresumed its acticities. They are a most welcoming group, as one can just ring the bell and a tea or coffee will be placed before you. They are, as it so happens, presently open to New Members. Just call in for a chat or phone either of the following numers: 087 2500313 or 086 3126404.
On Bridge Street stands a most historic building, that of the Gerald Griffin Memorial School, named of course after our renowned poet of that name who was born in 1803, we are lead to believe, in Bow Lane, now St Augustine Place which is parallel to Bridge Street. This building is also famous for the fact that the trial of John Scanlan for the murder of the Colleen Bawn took place here in March, 1820 and although he was defended by our celebrated lawyer, the great liberator, Daniel O’Connell, Scanlan was found guilty and executed on March 16th, 1820 on Gallow’s Green, Singland. And of course, history of its very nature being a natural extenuating entity, therein lies yet another story when the horse conveying the murderer on the cart, refused to cross Baal’s Bridge, which was then a flat surface as a number of houses were situated on one side. Barrington’s around the corner also lends itself to a nugget of history, as does Fanning’s Castle behind that old school landmark. (In this column next week I continue on my 'trot' that will take in Curraghgour Boat Club)
As mentioned above, as history goes, one thing automatically leads to another, and such is the case here. As it so happens, the four Purdon sisters who occupied one of the houses that stoood on Baa's Bridge, never married as they thought no man good enough for them. Hence the saying in our locale, “as proud as a Purdon”! Even their individual Christian names on their gravestone at St. Lawrence Cemetery is prefixed with the word, 'Miss'.
Our parish shrine to the Blessed Mother is situated at the entrance to St. Mary's Park. It was the first to be erected in the city back in 1954 to honour the Marian Year. Previous to its being built it was, I understand, somewhat of a dump. And, oh, how that phoenix has risen from the ashes, so to speak. Throughout the 76 years of its existence it has been completely free of any sort of vandalism. It has been well maintained, mostly by voluntary work on the part of some loyal locals until recent years when St. Mary's AID took over its maintenance. Just this week an array of colourful flowers have been carefully planted and these flowers will prove a visual delight when we once again celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Mother close to August 15th. On whatever date that is, our St. Mary's All-Ireland Prize-Winning Band will play for quite a span outside our parish church following the 11am Mass. Then, in the afternoon, usually after 3pm, devotions will take place at our beautiful Shrine, where we have a little talk from the attending priest, as well as Rosary and Benediction. It is indeed a credit to the children of this area as well as their parents that this statue and surrounding area has been free of even the slightest act of vandalism over the years, a huge degree of respect abounding!
The area surrounding King John's Castle is really coming into its own, so to speak. Recently, magnificent plants have been erected directly behind the statue of our literary pride, Michael Hogan, the Bard of Thomond. One can observe from the amount of vehicles parked in the Car Park down the road a bit, that visitors to the Castle reign supreme, volume-wise! It feels so good to have everything back to normal once again and long may that continue.
From time to time I continue to be asked about my books and where they can be be procured? Naturally, most people's first port of call is O'Mahony's on O'Connell Street. Following that, they are on sale in the newspaper shop in Arthur's Quay, the Hunt Museum, Celtic Bookshop on Rutland Street, Quay Books on Sarsfield (just beyond Billy Higgin's men's emporium), Eason's in the Parkway SC, Talking Leaves in Castletroy SC, and possibly Super Value in Grove Island, Corbally.
Recently, as part of our consciousness of the environment, a wild-flower garden has been introduced at St. Mary's Cathedral Cemetery, as well as brand new seating, and various plantings. Here also you will find the wooden carved statue of founder, Dónal Mór O'Brien, that was originated from a tree which of necessity, had to be felled. It is wonderful that everyone has been allowed access to the these magnificent grounds and the Cathedral itself also. I well remember a time when I lived close by at St. Augustine Place, one did not dare enter its precincts. A wonderful change for the better.

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