BR. GERARD PHAYER RIP:
The death occurred recently of a member of one of the oldest families who resided on Nicholas Street. And although Gerry left to join the Franciscan Brothers many decades ago, he never lost touch with his native city, returning quite often to attend funerals and family get-togethers. He belonged to a very large family, many of whom have passed on. They were a very well-respected family who became involved in many local activities, particularly swimming and aqua connected matters. A most wonderful picture of three male members of that family hangs proudly in the Curraghgour Boat Club. Gerry was a very nice chap altogether, friendly, never glum, and always an interested listener. We extend our sincere sympathy to his brothers, Jack, Eddie, Tom and Eugene, his sisters, Claire and Lillian, extended family and many friends. “I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not think of me as gone. I am with you still in each new dawn. If ever the words of the song, ‘The Old House’ suited, it is to this family home on Nicholas Street. Usually sung by John McCormack, here is but one verse.
“Lonely the house now, and lonely the moorland
The children have scattered, the old folk are gone
Why stand I here, like a ghost or a shadow?
Tis time I was movin', tis is time I passed on.”
LIMERICK LIONS CLUB:
CATHEDRAL CELEBRATES 850 YEARS:
In respect of our Cathedral which stands a mighty focal point in the midst of our ancient Parish I now bring the final part of the History of the Bells that we all take so much for granted. There is nothing more uplifting than to hear them peal out joyfully and soulfully every Sunday morning, be it summer or autumn. In my column next week I will bring you one of the few poems I have penned throughout the years in praise of these same bells and the bell-ringers.
HISTORY OF CATHEDRAL BELLS 2:
“Yorke’s peal of six bells were first rung in March, 1674, to mark the proclamation of peace between England (in alliance with Louis X1V of France) and the Dutch defender, William of Orange. There was great jubilation throughout the city. Some decades later that same William was to be fighting in Ireland against King James from Derry to Limerick. Quite a lot of work has been necessary over the last 100 years to keep the bells and the tower in proper condition, due to the constant stress from the chiming of the present peal of eight bells. The bell-ringers of St. Mary’s have brought honour many times to Limerick, in winning the All-Ireland Bell-ringers Trophy on six occasions. Certain families have had a great tradition of bell-ringing over the years, especially, Binghams, Brislanes, Coxes, Fogerty’s, Fosters, Galbraiths, Howes, Marsdens, McCormack’s, Ellises, and many more. At present there is a remarkable co-operation with the bell-ringers in the Redemptorist Church, many from both teams interchange from time to time.”
THE PRESENT TEAM 2001:
The present team under Captain Michael Pomeroy is: Kenneth Brislane, Gerry O’Shea, Brian Brislane, Kieron Brislane, Michael Howes, Stewart Howes, Alan Hegarty, Avril Hegarty, Roy McCormack, Jonathan Boyle, Stephen Holmes, Adrienne Baron, Clodagh Lynch, Rev. Cliff Jeffers, Bryan Priestly. The facts about the Bells of St. Mary’s have often been coloured by various legends that have come down in local tradition over the centuries.” 2001 (From “Light on the Past,” researched and compiled by our late Parish Priest, Canon Brendan Connellan in 2001. Final part of this most interesting story of those same bells that continue to peal out every Sunday a little past 11.00 o’clock, and is there any sound more uplifting than theirs as their musical message travels all the way across the Shannon and into various parts of town)
CATHEDRAL OF THE WELCOMES:
Over quite a few years now we have been accustomed to our Parish Cathedral holding many worthwhile events, both musical and otherwise. Included in the line-up has been the highly popular Lunchtime Concerts. In a single glossy A4 leaflet that was handed out on the evening of Launch 850, the following invitation is listed to would-be event organisers. It states the following. “St Mary’s Cathedral, founded in 1168 AD, celebrates its 850th year throughout 2018. Built on the site of the Palace of the O’Brien Kings of Thomond, it has been ever-present during invasions, sieges, wars, famines and times of peace. It has also hosted some amazing events, from Choral events, Concerts and Recitals to Son et Lumiere, Sound and Light events.
KATE’S LITERARY FESTIVAL:
Consisting of Talks, Workshops, Music, Poetry and lectures, the long-running local Literary in honour of Kate O’Brien, has been going on for the past few days and will conclude on Sunday, February 25. Among participating writers from afar, are our very own native scribes, Róisín Meaney, award-winning writer, Kevin Barry, Pat Shortt, and Blindboy Boatclub. The various take place at different venues. Tickets can be purchase at the Lime Tree Theatre Box office: 061 953 400 or online at www. limetreetheatre.ie.
KEEPING BARD’S MEMORY ALIVE:
To be remembered a year or a few decades following anyone’s death is notable but to be remembered 119 years following one’s death is nothing short of a miracle. However, such was the case at the Granary Library on Tuesday of last week when a man from the Wexford area, Christopher Power, delivered an excellent resumé of our beloved Bard’s life. This relatively young historian and researcher treated his audience to a ramble around parts of Limerick and Co Clare as he extolled the writings of Michael Hogan who was born at New Road, Thomondgate. He dealt a fair bit with the poems that related tales of old, Oibhinn the Banshee and the like. He also referred to my favourite poem of our most famous 19th century writer, entitled, “The Miser’s Grave” and wondered if it had a shade of Dicken’s Christmas tale, that of Scrooge. The speaker did take issue with the fact that our Bard has remained absent from national or even international notoriety. In no way did he ‘canonise’ our famous writer and this is praiseworthy. As an ‘outsider’ by his own admission, he viewed Michael Hogan objectively. Christopher paid tribute to our Parish native, the multi-lingual Criostóir Ó’Floinn, who was the fore-runner in writing of Hogan’s life. He also mentioned Frank Hamilton in this vein. The former could well be deemed a true scholar of our poet. It was from the latter’s book on Hogan’s life that my interest initially sprung just as I had begun to write back in 1990. Up to that point, like many Limerick people before me, I had Michael Hogan confined to a one-poem poet and upon discovering otherwise, I was totally surprised. Hence my extreme interest following that chance encounter one day at the Library.
JIM KEMMY’S MEMORIAL COMMITTEE:
The speaker referred to the Bard’s headstone at St Lawrence cemetery in a most glowing terms. It was the Memorial Committee led by the late highly accomplished historian, Jim Kemmy, along with former Mayor of Limerick a few times, Ted Russell, as well as Frank Hamilton and possibly one or two more, who were responsible for the erection of the present headstone following the destruction of the Bard’s Celtic Cross headstone (which had been erected in 1932 or 1933), as well as many more headstones at the hands of vandals in their random attack. There was a sizeable gathering of interested people present on the night. Chief Librarian, Mike Maguire, introduced the speaker and at the end of the talk Mike mentioned how enlightened he had become about the Bard following the talk. Personally, I was delighted to make the acquaintance of writer and poet, Micheál Ó’Siocrú, on the night. Together with the late historian, Kevin Hannan, Pat Power from Wexford, and of course, Criostóir Ó’Floinn, Micheál can recite from memory every line of that marathon poem, and the poem that is automatically associated with our Bard even to this day, “Drunken Thady and the Bishop’s Lady.” Pat Power, father of the speaker, treated us to a few snatches from that famous poem at the heel of the evening. It was also good to see Newcastlewest man, and a man who has had a genuine interest in our Bard for decades, Pat O’Donovan, present on the night. An enjoyable literary evening was had by all. Well done to Christopher!
Better known as ‘Gull’ Michael McNamara of Abbeyvale, Corbally and formerly of St Its Street, passed away recently. A very popular man, Michael had a smile for all and always managed to look very well. He and his wife, Eileen, were exceptionally close and you rarely saw one without the other. Together they reared quite a large family of that they can be very proud. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Eileen, his daughters, Virginia, Linda, Yvonne, Alice, Louise and Elaine, his sons, Michael and Leonard, grandchildren and great-grand- children, sisters, Maureen Ryan and Margaret Quinlivan, his brother, Peter, extended family and friends. May he rest in peace.
RE-DISCOVERING POET ARTHUR:
Arthur Lysaght was a typical and a very loyal Parish man who belonged to a family steeped in the printing trade. His mother, a Kerry woman, very definitely retained her true-born accent. She was a friend of my mother’s and a frequent visitor to our house and I well recall that distinctive voice and unique turn of phrase. I did not remember Arthur in my younger years. But I did come to know him in my later years. He happens to be my favourite local poet, being blest with the gift of rhyme and also being possessed of many facets of the local scene. Paging through one of my many scrap-books recently, I came across a mighty poem consisting of no less than 29 verses, entitled, An Area Called St Mary’s”. The poem encapsulates just about every aspect of our local community, including some notable characters, and was published in the “Limerick Leader” in the 70s. Due to its vast length I have opted to bring to my readers just four verses each week, including my own comment as far as memory serves me. I cannot recall enjoying anything previously to date as the typing of this ‘little local masterpiece”! I simply lived every word and sentiment of its contents. I once wrote of the late Denis Leonard, “This Man Hath Loved his City Well,” but in Arthur’s case it surely would have to read, “This Man hath Loved his Parish Well.” And so I begin this poetic marathon.
AN AREA OF ST MARY’S
I remember Crosbie Row when I think of long ago,
I was born just above it, don’t you see,
In the parish of St. Mary’s, I was told about the fairies,
And heard stories of the dreaded Banshee.
Born here was Andrew Cherry, who made the people merry,
And houses bear his name by good intent,
A songwriter and comedian, he oft played at Covent Garden,
And wrote the song, ’There is a Little Plant’.
Nolan’s Cottages are there, sixteen houses passing fair,
The Court and old Jailhouse are there too,
And the house at Curraghgower, which gave us a Mayor,
Keeps well in the shaded avenue.
Frank McMahon’s stood hard by, to serve those feeling dry,
And across the road, Mick Healy and Devaney,
Oh, the days of yesteryear, so full of joy and cheer,
The Thomond bringing pictures to the eye!
MY MEMORIES OF THE ABOVE:
The mention of Andrew Cherry in the verses above is almost apt as he always features coming up to St. Patrick’s Day, so one might sat, at least the season is right. He is reputed to have been born on Bridge Street and for a period of time worked at his father’s book-binding and printing business just around the corner, until the lure of the stage took a firm grasp on him. Then, of course the mention of Bradshaw’s who lived up an Avenue known as the Curraghgour. It was situated right beside where the Car Park for City Hall now stands. I well remember we had a favoutite tree up there where we had tons of fun making a swing around it and waiting our turn to avail of it. Well-known character, Annie Irwin, lived up there also. It was a magical, hide-away sort of place, somewhat exclusive if you like! The mention of Frank McMahon’s brought a different memory to me as I was too young to recall that man having owned the Bar which is now “The Rock.” At the time I was growing up he owned and ran a grocery shop which is now Al Ryan’s Printers. Talk about ‘Down Memory Lane,’ this is surely the very epitome of those three words. (Four more verses next week)