Street Battles

An old Tan Yard separated Numbers 2 and 3 (Turleys and Carrs) and was a long time abandoned when I became aware of it. Windows were blocked up and the entrance gates were never opened. It was, in other words, irresistible to us! 

One of the blocked-up windows soon acquired a hole big enough for a boy to crawl through. Still it was only the very brave who would attempt this, in pursuit for example of a ball that had been kicked over its wall. The reason was, as anybody could tell you, that there were rats as big as badgers in that yard. Those who ventured within and returned unscathed bore eloquent testimony to this – and to their own bravery in confronting them. Those who didn’t dare could never tell truth from bravado bragging.

The ‘Green’ at the bottom of the Chapel Street Rocks was another gathering place for the youth of the day. The ultimate challenge then was to climb up to The Big Hole at the peak of The Rocks and see if you were daring enough to climb inside the Old Castle.

The boys of the Boat Street and Chapel Street areas seemed always to be ‘at war’. This entailed arranging a confrontation where for example the Boat Street lads would suddenly emerge like Apaches from the Courtenay Hill end, behind McAleavey’s house while The Chapel Street contingent would suddenly swarm from the Castle end. Everyone’s jersey or gansey would be filled with stones to be clod at their sworn enemy – some stones even held in mouths.

Victory went to the side that forced an undignified retreat from the other. It was a battle won, not the war. The defeated crew immediately began to plan its revenge! 

… Gasworks Coke …

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