Childhood Years

Although I was reared by my aunts, prior to their relocation to Dromalane my parents lived only five minutes walk away and I was a frequent visitor. They had no radio so we made our own entertainment, with regular singalongs in the evenings. My father had a lovely tenor voice and he and mother knew all the old Irish melodies, as well as the songs of the day.

Their home then was lit by gas. I can still see my mother ironing with the gas iron that weighted a ton! The gas mantle that produced the light was very fragile and quite often Patsy and I would have to run to the local plumber (he lived above his shop) and ask at the side door for a replacement mantle.

While I was never smacked either by my aunts or my parents, the same thing could not be said about my siblings. My father was not averse to using the strap if he felt it was warranted. This strap served a dual purpose; it strapped his cut-throat razor and it provided a means of punishment.

After one such punishment my sister Patsy decided that enough was enough. She and my brother John buried the strap out in the backyard. Despite a grilling from my father, they denied all knowledge of its whereabouts and for all his searching and interrogation my father never found out where it had gone.

My father was an excellent swimmer. He once received a certificate for saving someone from drowning in the canal. His heroism cut little ice with my mother who was dismayed that he had ruined his best suit in the process. She never tired of telling him that ..’suits are hard to come by.’

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