29 January 2017
Clarke Memories 1
Growing up in Carlingford.
I met a chap in McKevitts recently who was home for few days and we had a bit of craic recalling childhood days in Carlingford. We spoke about all the changes in Carlingford over the last number years. We thought it would be a great idea to look at the difference in Carlingford when we were children during the 60’s and 70’s and perhaps we might get something going that would prompt others to add a memory or a story from those good times. Of course things like this are talked about over a few pints and are generally forgotten about. It stuck with me and I thought I would get something written down.
Looking back on my childhood and teenage years in Carlingford through the sixties and seventies brings great memories. From the Tin Can league on the Green to the big Show Bands in the Marquee also on the green.
We would go down early to slide on the wooden dance floor in the marquee but we always had to be out before the dances would start. I remember listening to Brendan Boyer from the front door of our house on Grove Road. This would be around the mid 60,s.
My father along with Des Savage, Joe Mc Kevitt and Peadar Mc Guinness, may they rest in peace, were on the Community Council and along with a number of others organised many events during that time. There always seemed to be a great buzz around the village. We had the Jinks and Jamboree in the Yanks field now Oyster Bay. There would be an annual Sports Day that had everything from Egg and spoon, three legged and relay races. There was Tug o’ War, Football and of course the amusements with swinging boats and bumping cars.
I remember in particular one of the football finals between our neighbours
St Pats. and Toombe from Monaghan. My father was an umpire and in the dying seconds with the game at stalemate Dad called the ball wide.
There were strong protests from the Pats supporters that the ball went over the bar. I believe my father was correct in the decision but there was no convincing the Pats supporters. Needless to say Luke senior was not very popular in the Pats territory.
The tug o War was great fun with many local teams taking part. At that time the Glenmore team were very strong and there were many famous “Pulls” between them and Dromin. Dromin generally came out on top and eventually went on to win all Ireland titles.
The amusements were not much more than swinging boats and the good old “dodgems”. If my memory serves me right they were owned by a guy called Moses who was English and lived in Omeath.
Another popular event was the Regatta. Not many local people had yachts then they were mostly from Dundalk and us as young people hadn’t much interest in them anyway because they were away out in the lough, our interests lay elsewhere swimming races in the harbour and anyone strong enough at the swimming would take part in the race between the two piers you had to be a strong swimmer because of the strong current between the two piers. Then you had Des Boyle on the speed boat owned by John Donnelly from Newry. Des was going around the harbour inviting anyone brave enough to jump on the skis behind,i wasn’t brave enough.
There was also the Grease Pole. It was impossible to stay on it but there were endless hours of fun and banter with everybody trying in vain to stay on the pole.
In the evening we had the very popular street sports on Newry street .
John Mc Kevitt would always win the slow bicycle race and of course nobody went home hungry as everyone had a good feed from Paul Woods ‘s Chip Van.
We had the local soccer league which consisted of four teams. There was one from Grove Road where I lived, the Dundalk road team from the St. Michael’s Terrace, the Newry Street and Castle Hill team and a fourth team made up from the other areas. We had terrific fun with this. We played our matches in a variety of venues. The Longfield where Anthony McShane now has his sheds on Grove Road, one of Michael Donnelly’s fields in Mountain Park, the Quarry Banks field where the Nursing Home now is and Ben Mc Kevitts field where St. Oliver NS is now built. If none of these venues were available we resorted to the Nun’s lawn on Castle Hill.
Every Sunday after second mass the race was on for Hugh and Maggie Brennan’s shop for the famous Ice Drink made with Maggie’s home-made ice cream and one of Pat Kirks “Oriel” minerals. After that it was a choice of football on the tennis court or the nun’s lawn, or another race to get your name on the board for the snooker table in St Michael’s hall. We also had to do watch for the older men who were playing poker in the back room in the Hall in case the Canon would arrive .
I remember one day I was on “watch” duty and the snooker match had gotten very exciting and I was so engrossed that the Canon got in unknown to me and headed straight for the back room where which was full of “cincinatti kids” and smoke. The table was full of money and as soon as they saw the Canon Jem Oakes shouted check to try and convince him that they were playing Snap. The Canon was having none of it and everyone was thrown out and the hall was closed for a number of weeks. I got my arse kicked by one of the gamblers – whose names shall remain annonymous !
The record hops and discos in the hall were also great to go to. There were barbecues in King John’s castle where many will remember “Tojo” as the bouncer. It was easier to get into the hall without paying than the Castle and it had no roof. Up Drapers lane up on the flat roof and in the toilet window, But Tojo had eyes like revolving security cameras and we were often caught trying to get in for free.
The barbeque would always be preceded by John Harold’s Car Treasure Hunt. John was a master class as organising the hunt. A string of cars would set off from the Hall travelling all around the peninsula in search of the clues that would bring the cash prize.
Halloween nights in Carlingford were great with the Bonfires burning in Mountain Park and St Michaels Terrace. There was the usual trickery going on and always a few doors that that would be called upon where you were sure to get a good chase. To be honest some of the householders were fitter than we were, i won’t name them!
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29 January 2017
Has any one got photos of my father Jimmy Smart who worked in JPs And armstrongs farms if so I be glad get in touch 04837507962More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
Remembering a Mother
“Would you have a room with a view”? He asked.
“No” says I, “but there is a lovely view from the dining room for breakfast in the morning”
The man introduced himself as John from Canada. He was in his late 40s, with a rough-hewed face that had experienced troubled times. He wore a leather jacket and britches and sported a Harley Davidson tee shirt. His hair fell about 3 feet down his back and was gathered together neatly with a rubber band. He was with his petite wife, an American lady – pretty and softly spoken.
I showed them the view from the dining-room which overlooks a small park, then Carlingford Lough and the Mourne Mountains.
There is a statue of the bull in the park and she enquired if there was a story associated with it.
“It’s the Brown Bull of Cooley” I told her
“What’s that about” she enquired
I told her the story of the Brown Bull and Queen Maeve.
Beside the Bull there is a statue of a white horse
“So is there a story attached to the white horse too” she asked
“It’s the Ghost Horse of Mountain Park” and I launched into the tale.
“Did you ever hear” says I “about The Last Leprechauns of Ireland”
They shook their heads and off I went again relating the story as fast as ever it was told. Close to the end I turned and looked at John. Tears ran down his cheeks.
Sorry John are you ok! I asked
“Kevin” he said “My Mam was born across the water in Rostrevor and left for Canada in her early 20s.She use to tell me stories about Ireland and the Leprechauns and Fairies. She never got back home but I promised that someday I would come to Ireland and scatter her ashes among the land of the little people and the home of all the stories she use to tell me as a boy. That’s why I am here, and I think she brought me here to you.
I got out my book “The Last Leprechaun’s of Ireland” and signed it for him with a dedication to the memory of his mother.
The following morning while serving breakfast to both of them I was introduced to “Mam” who accompanied them in a jar placed on the breakfast table. Her photograph was on the side of the jar: she was a beautiful looking woman and definitely in life had the face of a storyteller. John and his wife didn’t bat an eyelid while she stood there and they talked about her like she was sitting on a chair. To them it seemed natural enough that she should be sitting on the table looking out over the Lough and towards her home in Rostrevor.
I brought them that morning by car to Mountain Park and to the area where the Leprechauns live and that is under protection by the EU. He scattered her ashes on Carlingford mountain looking down over Rostrevor and his eyes filled up again as he remembered her love for him and his for her and the stories she told him so many years before back home in Canada.
John left Carlingford that day. He said it was a place he would never forget.
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29 January 2017
Memory: Luke Clarke Memories 2
Carlingford Pipe band was re-formed in 1972 by the late Benny Fretwell, Des McCrum and Pat Joe Kearney who is still with us today. There were no shortage of members coming forward, pipes, drums and Uniforms were acquired and after many nights of practice in the Hall, The band was ready for its first outing. Cooley won the Louth Senior Football Championship and the band assembled at Charlie Gallagher’s House to greet the team with the Joe Ward Cup and lead them into the village. It was fitting that it should be Carlingford Man Terry Brennan, now Senator Brennan, or as he was better known “Scoby” who captained the team that year and the year was 1973.
The band participated in competitions throughout the country and won a number of trophies the high point was competing in the all Ireland pipe band championship in the Showgrounds in Cork city in 1980 where we came 5th in grade four which was a great achievement for a small band. The Band was invited to play in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York in 1989 by the Co Louth society spearheaded by a Knockbridge man Tommy Smyth, and aided by our own Kieran Murphy from Petestown, Cooley who was working in New York managing a bar/restaurant owned by PJ Reilly from Cavan . Kieran worked tirelessly raising funds, as we did from this side to get the band out to the Big Apple. We arrived in New York a few days before the parade and were met by Kieran who stayed with us for the entire six days. We played a few different functions , including the Bronx where we met up with Peadar Donnelly son of Michael Donnelly ,
Peadar emigrated to New York i think in the sixties .We had a few great sessions in PJ Reilly’s bar where Kieran worked. John Harold always wondered why we were always so punctual in the morning, dressed in uniform and ready to go. That was because we didn’t get to bed from the night before, all good fun .
What an honour it was to walk down Fifth Avenue with upwards on 1 million people lining the streets.
The following day the 18th of March we travelled up to Boston for their St. Patricks Day Parade. There we met with Joe “Gandhi” Finnegan brother of Paddy Finnegan and Uncle of Bridie Burke nee Finnegan. The parade in Boston lasted four hours. I was carrying the Tenor Drum! I was knackered by the end but it was well worth it. Harry Harold was worse he was carrying the Base Drum Brown Bull and all. We were so well looked after by the Louth Society. We met Hugh Mc Parland from the Boher who had emigrated to Worchester outside Boston in the late seventies. Hugh still lives there. It was a wonderful trip and will be long etched in the memory of all who travelled. A number of years later the band was invited to new Brunswick in Canada. I Unfortunately didn’t make that trip but Some of those who did might like to give a little info on it!!
You couldn’t talk about the period growing up in Carlingford without mentioning Carlingford Celtic days from 1973 to 1980. The team played in the Dundalk Summer League, starting in division 3 and winning. Two years later Carlingford Celtic won division 1. A lot of the boys had to juggle playing soccer and gaelic. In the 70’s Cooley Kickhams were a formidable team winning the Joe Ward Cup a number of times.
Unfortunately a lot of the great characters in and around Carlingford have passed away or have emigrated. The village is buzzing now at the week-ends but you could visit any of the local pubs now and not know one person there. There is no such thing now as congregating outside Brennan’s shop (now Dan’s Café) on a Sunday morning and discussing over an ice drink where you were on Saturday night or what you got up to maybe in Ballymac or the Nuremore hotel, Or, if you were brave enough pay Harry Magee a visit in the Fjord bar and get a slagging from Harry, as he would know all the news from your escapades on the previous night.
The ice drink was more inviting!!
Remembering Harry McGee and the Fjord Bar brings to mind some characters who enjoyed a regular game of Twenty Five in the Fjord. My dad Luke Senior, Joe Carolan, Paddy Donnelly, Hugh Magee, Gerry Morgan, Paddy Malone from Cooley, Tom Martin from Gyles Quay to name but a few. In the evening time at weekend s Harry Magee would switch the television off and the sing song would start. Harry would lead off with a lovely rendition of “She moved through the fair”. There was a host of singers available - Frank and Margaret Mc Cartan, Frank and Phil Flynn, Doris and May Armstrong, wee Mickey Rogan from Grange, Frank Hanlon also from Grange, Fergus Hanley from Greenore and Carlingford’s own Bing Crosby - Benny Fretwell . There was a couple from Belfast Stan and Eleanor Brooks who had a holiday home on the North Commons. Eleanor had a beautiful voice and was always requested to sing “San Fransisco”. Ian Mc Callister from Dublin a relation of the Armstrongs played the spoons and May Armstrong was an excellent whistler. Memories of great characters and great sing songs.
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29 January 2017
'Quick, it's raining. Get the jerseys in!'
Growing up in Cooley in the 1950s and 1960s
I always had a great feeling of belonging to the Cooley Kickhams. Maybe it was because I was born into a footballing family and Cooley Kickhams were always part of our lives.
Perhaps it was because my father (Mike) and mother (Madge) were the custodians of the Cooley jerseys during that period and for many years afterwards.
The jerseys were always there. When they were not neatly folded in a case they were either being washed or dried or sewn or just being aired. They could be out on the clothes line or on the hedge or when it was raining, hanging around the fire drying. These were no ordinary lightweight jerseys but the heavy jerseys knitted by the nuns from Omeath.
I remember one evening in 1956, the year a reformed Cooley Kickhams took part in competitions, when my father came home with a second hand (I think) suitcase for the Cooley jerseys. He also obtained a stencil set from somewhere and that very same evening set about stencilling the name COOLEY KICKHAMS on the front of the case. I seem to remember that one or two of the letters were missing and they had to be painted on as accurately as possible.
There was always panic around the house as match days approached. In those days there was only one good set of jerseys and keeping them clean was tough, especially after a wet and mucky match day and remember, they had to be handwashed! Apart from the cleaning element, there were always the inevitable rips, holes, collars hanging off etc. I seem to remember two colours of spools of wool, green and gold, for mending. I presume they also came from the nuns in Omeath.
As children growing up we were not always that fond of looking after the jerseys. To us it was an adult job but we were always willing to help out. Of course the weather played an important part in the upkeep of the jerseys. There was not a finer sight than to see a set of colourful jerseys blowing in the breeze from the clothesline, perhaps an uncommon sight these days but quite common in years gone by. Those summers were sunny and dry and rain was a rare occurence but it did rain sometimes and often in our house came the dreaded command from my mother, 'Quick, it's raining and the jerseys are out. They'll be soaked!' Everything had to be dropped and the jerseys taken in and placed on the backs of chairs and on tables and on stools and as near to the fire as possible to continue the drying process. Indeed I often remember the call coming very late at night after returning home from a night out!
On match days our house often resembled a dressing room as the jerseys were got ready. On bright dry days I remember my father getting the jerseys sorted out for matches on the front lawn. They had to be folded neatly, always in a special way, and placed in the case, starting with the number twenty at the bottom so that they would be in the correct numerical order for giving out as the team was named.
The jerseys were looked after in our house for over thirty years and were very much a family affair. My mother and father took great care that every Cooley Kickhams player wore a kit that looked and smelled as fresh as a breeze as they ran out onto the field of play.
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