I spotted this photo and the story that accompanied it, in the paper this week and my sore old heart gave a little skip for joy!
They were barely out of school then. I was working as part-time barman in Cupid’s and they were the first group in to the Disco every Thursday and Friday night. They hardly had an inkling of their great individual and collective beauty but that made it all the better. It was what sustained me through many a harrowing night.
The worst was that night when the INLA planted an anti-personnel device inside the disco and phoned a garbled and deliberately misleading message. Young Stevie Lowry, the D J, volunteered with the owner to search surreptitiously for the device. It exploded then and there, sending me – on the far side of the room – against the back wall of the bar. I was shocked but uninjured.
Stevie lost a hand – blown off at the wrist – and the owner lost an eye. No one else was badly injured. But the Disco had lost its magic.
BUT I hadn’t meant to write about the bad times!
‘My Girls!!’ as I chose to call them – they were delighted and (I think) flattered to be so singled out – were my few good friends in the best of times at Cupid’s.
‘We will always be together and celebrating!’ they boasted, ever so foolishly, to me.
‘We love it here. And we will always be friends!’
I smiled at their naivete but didn’t choose to warn them that life was no bed of roses.
It could not possibly last.
Here they all were (well, almost all) more beautiful than ever, together and celebrating one huge, collective fortieth birthday.
How I wish I had been there!
‘There was just four of them came to me at first,’ said Hughie McKenna of the Newry Irish National Foresters Committee,
‘asking how many our hall would hold, seated.
They were delighted at how large our main room was. I told them 200, at a push.’
‘Is that all?’ They sounded disappointed.
‘Well, if they don’t all need to be seated …..’ Hugh offered, stutteringly.The event was a fortnight ago tonight. Caterers were approached. They were asked to cater for 250.
In the event almost 500 people turned up. Most were fed – all who required to be – loaves and fishes, I presume! – and the majority remained standing. There was no room even to set out buffet tables, so people were served plates already filled, as they waited in a queue. There was not a single complaint – nor even the hint of trouble the whole night long. And long it was!
Ah, what would you expect? These are the finest girls from the best families of the town. The Foresters never had a night like it. Luckily it was mild and dry, for many had to resort to the outdoors and the Club’s steps.
The craic was mighty.
May I belatedly offer my heartiest congratulations! I still love you, one and all:
Fiona Magee, daughter of my mate, Tony and wife of mate Jimmy Magee’s son!
Tracy O’Neill (then Crimmons). Ahhh, be still, my pounding heart!!!!
If I’m still around in a decade’s time,
please remember me when you are sending out the invitations!