29 January 2017
Madeline Woods Hayes Chicago and Ind.USA.
Sunday tea in the Ghan House in the 1950s and 60s had a ritual and rhythm.
The feast appeared on the table as if by magic every Sunday evening but there was no magic about it. Mammy had baked and prepared all day Saturday and Daddy had bought the roast chicken in Kiernan’s earlier in the day . I usually washed the lettuce in the scullery. I helped Mammy set each plate with sliced chicken or sometimes roast beef left over from the dinner (now lunch), hard boiled eggs and tomatoes.
Two of the many tables were placed length ways and set with a white tablecloth. As a girl and the eldest of six siblings it was my job to set the table.
The “spread” appeared – light as a feather sponges dissected with fresh cream and raspberry jam and sometimes meringues, cup cakes, or scones.-but a feast it was !
Daddy sat at the head of the table and Mammy with her back to Aga cooker.
I remember laughter and good conversation, sports ,politics and the days current topics all were covered with much ribbing.
The meal over it was all hands on deck –even Daddy-for the clean up.
The dishes were washed in the scullery sink (no dish-washer yet) someone washed another dried and another put away.
The big old red tiled floor was swept- Paul or Kevin used the brush as a microphone to sing the latest aria from Radio Luxemburg and more often than not Mammy danced with one of us around the kitchen table. It was our first introduction to ballroom dancing.
Then it was hurry up for rosary and benediction at 7pm.--The ritual of Hymns and incense-Aunt Lily Woods singing at the top of her voice, lungs bursting and soaring above the rest of us. The warmth of community whose every face was familiar Mrs Marron and Jimmy, Agnes Boylan, Mary Larkin, Ducks Brannigan, Jinny Connolly, Mary Ann McCourt, Gerry Harpur Danny Mc Kevitt, Sis Flynn and Paddy Finegan and of course Auntie (who lived with us in the Ghan) Oh and so many more ! The men sat on one side and women on the other, children to the front.
It was magic! So special in a way we really didn’t appreciate.
But it did shape us and give us memories that still bring a sweet tear -- and laughter.
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29 January 2017
As a boy my family moved from Baldwinsville NY in America to Jenkinstown and later Ravensdale when my father worked at ECCO in Dundalk. My sister and I attended Dundalk Grammar School. I have many great memories of the area around Carlingford Lough, fishing and sailing with friends the Lowreys. I still have friends there in the area, Anne McCourt, her son Tom and daughter Mary and their families. My wish to return there some day is always ever present. Thank you for providing all the photos through your hard work. Regards, Sacey Bradley, resident from 1971-1977More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
In the Carpenter’s shop
JOHN REILLY or 'Reilly' as he was affectionately known was one of those rare characters who belonged to an old world Order, fast disappearing in the early and mid-sixties. He was the village carpenter, a puny figure, so thin that when he cycled along the Stoney Road by the harbour, one almost expected a spray of surf, or a sudden sea breeze to topple him from his bike. But, Reilly defied the elements, remaining steadfast on his perch until he reached his workshop, on the Castle to Hill. His brown cap was a permanent fixture on his head, except when he mulled over a problem, and needed scratch a particular spot, for inspiration that might trigger a solution. Then the cap was nudged forward, or sideways, as required, revealing a thick crop of silver hair, a pencil lodged behind one ear, a cigarette behind the other.
Reilly was a genius: a magician who could transform a plain piece of wood into almost anything. His job was a busy one in those days, but amidst the measuring, sawing, hammering and splicing of timbers he managed to perform a host of other activities. He worked odd hours in and out of his workshop: some-; times his day began at dawn, sometimes at noon, and very often he worked late into the night.
His workshop, with its large multipaned window, strategically placed at the north end of the village, overlooked the harbour and the entrance to Carlingford Lough. There he had an unimpeded view of both quays, the Stoney Road, and the train station hosting trains between Dundalk, Greenore, Omeath and Newry.
Few people were better placed than Reilly with his binoculars, to monitor the comings and goings of village life; a task he took seriously and performed with gusto.
INDEED, the villagers came to rely on him for his wisdom and knowledge, and they were rarely disappointed, for he was a mine of information that would have been the envy of Old Moore's Almanac. Train and bus schedules, the highs and lows of tides, the comings and goings of fishing boats and the catch of the day, all came well within his remit.
When Reilly took the pipe from his mouth, cleared his throat and announced "We'll have rain tonight," you believed him, even if at that stage there wasn't a cloud in the sky, for weather forecasting was just another of his many specialities and talents.
'Reilly's Regulars', as my mother christened them or the 'Dáil', as they were more generally known throughout the village, met in his workshop most nights of the week. A group of seven locals, my father included, they gathered to debate the weighty issues of the times.
All were avid newspaper readers, so local, national and international affairs, including politics, the law and the economy were vigorously debated. Often the lively discussions lasted well into the night until finally, Reilly delivered his profound opinion, a consensus was reached, or the matter adjourned for another night.
Reilly was particularly busy at times of general elections. That meant there was an indefinite delay on all urgent carpentry jobs, and work on small routine jobs was suspended altogether until further notice. It was then that his workshop was open all hours, and others joined the 'Regulars' for political debates, speculation, the pros and cons of political parties and candidates, and as election fever rocketed 'Reilly's Regulars' took bets on the outcome.
My affinity with Reilly stretched back to when I was very small, and played amongst the sawdust and curled and crinkled wood shavings beneath his workbench, while my father and he chatted.
Somehow, there was something aesthetically pleasing in that wood-scented atmosphere: the musical whirr of his saw, and the rhythmic motion of his plane. I gathered oddments of wood at
I the end of his bench and built them into makeshift castles, or whatever took my fancy, and Reilly never objected when I carried them off to make my own imaginary contraptions. The texture and feel of that wood, with its naturally patterned lines, knots and holes, had a strange, mesmeric quality that I never forgot.
THERE WAS always something new and wonderful in the dusty old boxes that took root beneath his bench: fragments of carved triangles, squared and circular pieces, ends of church benches, door knobs and spinning-tops.
There were unexpected nooks and corners to that workshop, too. I hid in the alcoves and the narrow alleys between planks of wood. I watched my changing shape reflected in the panes of glass propped against the rough walls. Chisels and screwdrivers, levels, saws, drills and cutting tools were everywhere, and the air was heavy with a mix of linseed oil, tobacco and varnish. Above me, banners and festoons of cobwebs, hoary with age, hung from the rafters that were home to massive spiders.
The elusive and creative spirit of a master craftsman pervaded that place that I was, for a short time, so privileged to frequent, and the sound of his tools at work became a familiar, if unique, language to my young ears.
It was hardly surprising, therefore, at the time that Reilly featured largely in my world view, as was evident when on my first day at school Canon Quinn came to visit the infants' class.
Stopping by my desk he asked, "Now, can you tell me who made the world 7" Well, I didn't have to think very long or hard about that one, I knew. "Reilly," I replied without hesitation. To the Canon and my teacher it was the ultimate sacrilege, to me it made perfect sense -for Reilly was, indeed, the great creator in my childhood scheme of things.
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29 January 2017
A Visit to Nana Hilda Woods
I arrive home to Carlingford from Clane with my 3 year old son Mark in toe and have an urge to pay someone special a visit. Time is of the essence and we need exactly that, time, to catch up. "Leave Mark here" Mum and Dad insist, and "off you go"!
"Are you sure?" I reply, one foot already half way out the door! "I wont be long" I cry, but leave a dinner to reheat for Mark just in case!
A cool breeze sweeps over my face as I stride past the lough. Ghan House prompts stories already told in my minds eye. Up the hill, I glance through the gate of Trinity and reflect on those who have long since past and journey on happily to reach Abbey Court!
Front door wide open, welcoming anyone who might call, I breeze in but she's not there. Investigating further I find her out the back, head in the freezer contemplating her menu for that evening. "Hi Nana" I say. Her eyes upon me "Oh Aisling"! I can see her yet, her voice singing with delight.
Before we know it , we are both crouched comfortably on the floor of her bijou sitting room, our backs resting against the cushioned armchairs which sit in front of the fireplace. Coffees in hand (hers black, lots of sugar) we are toasting and ready for chat. I glance at the her clock on the mantlepiece - 1:45pm.
There were many stories that day! I was utterly consumed by her elegance and eloquence, how she intertwined stories within stories, "never losing sight of the rat"! Dancing with Papa in the kitchen of Binnion, Giblet soup at their annual Christmas Eve parties, Meeting Papa for the first time, "Auntie" and her ever sniffling nose, Comic book pages being thrown into the Aga in an effort to discipline naughty children always reminding me what an unabounding love she had for each and every one of them, all different and all very special in their own right.
I am mesmerized and almost don't hear the phone ring. I pickup. Its Dad. Mark is distressed and looking for his Mum. I look at the clock, 5:45pm! Time, never enough time! 97 years and still not enough time!
"I have to go Nana" I whisper, and squeeze her tightly telling her I love her. "Love you too Ais", she says warmly, giving me a wink. " I'll visit you again when next I'm home!"
And I will, only this time you will be with Papa when I come.
Love you always and forever!
Tuesday, July 06 2010 - 11:38 PM
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29 January 2017
I was paid 10 bob by John Patterson to attend Callaghans mill 1960. Old picture George Brown at same mill 1930s.More > (0 comments)