In this the 60th anniversary of The Meadow housing estate we continue our occasional series of reminiscences of growing up there in the long-ago!
‘Not unlike the season we are presently enduring, that Spring of 1957 had so far been wild, wet and windy.
The Retaining Basin at Clanrye Avenue was in full use, brimming with the waters from the nearby Derrybeg River that otherwise would have flooded the Edward Street/Monaghan Street areas of the town.
Up in Corr’s Field that same river – we spent every free minute clambering its rocks and wandering its banks – was overflowing and was populated not just with our favourite red-breasted spricks but now too with trout.
We chose to play there especially from Friday afternoon onwards as we contemplated two and a half days free from the bonds of school.
Before the onset of dusk had curtailed our adventures that Friday evening we had accumulated a large mass of rocks, stones and other debris at the narrowest and steepest point of the river in Corr’s Field, ready to build the best dam ever on Saturday morning.
So excited were we at the prospect that few of us got any sleep at all that night.
Our ‘gang’ included a few members who were a year or two younger than us and one such member was making his ‘Confirmation’ that Saturday afternoon. His mother had dressed him in his complete outfit: his Confirmation Suit included his first ever pair of ‘long trousers’. He was under strict orders not to get any mark on his new clothes. Even some of our fathers didn’t possess a "Good Suit"!
Even some of our fathers didn’t possess a "Good Suit"!
The immaculate Noel stood forlornly looking on, as the rest of us – dressed in our usual play clothes, which meant the oldest, most ragged things we owned – plotted the day’s strategy.
‘Aw lads, wait till I change into my play clothes. Confirmation’s in the afternoon. I’ll have plenty of time to build the dam before then.’
‘No time to wait’, we insisted. ‘It could start raining any time.
Come as you are or not at all’.
Having said that our small group set off at a brisk pace.
It was painful to watch the indecision in his face, but finally Noel succumbed to temptation.
Casting caution to the wind, and still dressed to the ‘nines’ he trotted briskly behind us.
The die had been cast!
……… more later ………..