Street Games Revisited

What games did we play in yesteryear?

Well, it depended on ‘The Seasons’:

not those with which you are now familiar, but our own seasons;

you know, the ‘marley season’, the ‘caddy season’,  etc.

Some were somewhat dependent on the external seasons, like in winter, throwing buckets of water on the road or pavement, to create a ‘slide’: or whizzing down sloped fields on our own ‘toboggans’ of cardboard packaging!

Summer pursuits included ‘bouldering’, i.e. following the course of a river or stream along the stones or boulders that lined their sides, or were placed (often by ourselves) amid their flow, under road culverts, through ‘tunnels’ etc.   Each stone, I recall, was carefully tested to see how well-grounded it might be, before all our weight was transferred to it … 

 ‘sports’, in imitation of the schools’ sports of the time, long- and high-jumps using ‘canes’ flinched from Monaghan Row Nurseries …

 ‘raspberry and strawberry picking’ out the Rathfriland Road (‘Where do you keep your money, Patricia?’ ‘It’s not in my knickers anyway’ .. a less than credible answer as this was the only reason for the query in the first place!

Autumn pursuits included the gathering for money of potatoes in farmers’ fields, an occupation that required one to ‘bunk’ from school, perhaps the least of our concerns!! Then there was the ‘blackberry and haw picking’ for sale to Gavigans in Francis Street.

If some were specific to Spring, then, for the moment, that eludes me.

Many, indeed most street games and pursuits were multi-seasonal but strictly regulated all over town. You’d awake one Monday morning to find that ‘marleys’ were old hat: it was now the Caddy season!

But my intention here was merely to LIST our games, so that you could add to the list those I unintentionally omitted: perhaps even explain to our readers how each was played; perhaps recall some anecdotes to do with these games.

Caddy .. (various spellings, but explained elsewhere in these pages..)

Catapults .. a different proposition altogether.. I could show you my chipped front tooth, where a stone from Jim Barr’s catapult some fifty years ago missed the thrush he was aiming at, and hit me accidentally!


Red Lights .. One, two, three, Red Light…

Three balls – a dexterous juggling feat that every girl, and no boy could accomplish.

Kerbs ..



Elastic Jumps

Lamp-post swings



Touch football

Football, soccer and Gaelic

3-legged races

Hoola Hoops

Metal hoops and stick


Bogeys (usually ball-bearings)

Bows and Arrows


Bicycle Races

The modern child has exchanged all that for an electronic games-console! How sad.




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