Meadow: Spillin’ coal deliberately

The innocent days of youth in the early Meadow were recalled recently by Dennis Ward, retired Abbey Primary School teacher.


Your editor remembers Dennis and his younger brother Paddy as hurling enthusiasts practising their pucks on the ‘greens’ between Slieve Gullion Road and Iveagh Crescent.  With easy skill these lads could pluck the flying ball out of the air before sending it again, with forearm or backarm slash, the full one hundred and fifty yard length of the ‘big green’.


‘This time of year,’ said Dennis, viewing the snow-covered fields, ‘was especially exciting.
My pals and I were content with any sliding object – even a flattened cardboard box – as a sled to be used in Sandy McNeill’s field above Orior Road.  Eddie Barr (Jim and Eddie’s father) had different ideas.  He constructed a huge wooded four-seater sled.  All well and good, but the extra weight especially when loaded made it impossible to bring to a controlled halt. 
There were further complications!  The field ended abruptly with a retaining wall to protect the roadway, so giving a six-foot drop.  Also there were three strands of heavy wire, strung between concrete posts, that could easily decapitate a flying child!
The sled’s first outing had the predictable result of four bruised and dazed boys strewn on the roadway outside Tommy McGrath’s home.  Luckily there was no serious injury and the heavy sled was consigned to the opposite western slope that ended – more often than not – with a ducking in the icy Derrybeg River!
The cold weather brought us slides too on footpaths and roadways with steep inclines.  Bull’s Hill and the Nursery were favourites.  We’d borrow an aluminium pail filled with water to lubricate the chosen area. 
Occasionally we’d see some poor housewife, hiding her shame under a shawl, with a similar pail and short shovel standing at road junctions hoping an over-laden coal lorry might spill part of its load as it negotiated a tight corner.
And to be fair, there were a few kind and charitable lorry drivers, God bless them, who had perfected this art!
But these, like all drivers, were less than impressed with our ice-making antics!
… more Meadow stories ?

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