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Growing up in Clonmel in the 50s and 60s

By Noel Fanning

Growing up in Clonmel in the 50’s & 60’s was a great experience.  It’s hard to believe now that the street lights were switched off in the town at midnight.

Material things didn’t play a major role in people’s lives. Things were shared, lent and handed down from one family member, neighbour or friend to another.  Memories of having fantastic neighbours, genuine friends and a great sense of freedom.  Some memories of the happenings in Oliver Plunkett Terrace during this period of time and these recollections are open to correction.

Oliver Plunkett Terrace was built as a corporation estate and consisted of 66 houses. One side of the Terrace is in St. Peter & Paul’s Parish while the other side is in St. Mary’s.

5 resident families reared pigs in their back gardens. When these animals were due for slaughter, they were walked to Burkes Bacon Factory on the Quay. (Now the back of Penney’s). The children from the street would have to make sure all the garden gates were closed when the pigs were passing and sometimes would be rewarded with a few sweets by the owners. People from five houses either owned or worked with horses, doing deliveries, working with timber in the woods or corporation work such as drawing sand and gravel to construction sites.

Two residents had small shops which were in the front rooms of their houses.  They sold sweets and basic groceries. Some women worked at home doing dressmaking, knitting or hand stitching shoes for the Boot Factory to earn an extra few bob.

At the entrance to the Terrace where Chadwicks later traded, was Acheson’s farm.  This was a working farm and the cows were brought in twice a day from land on the Cashel Road to be milked. Local people could then buy the milk from Mr. & Mrs. Acheson. Some people may now find it hard to believe that all this was taking place just a stone’s throw from the Main Street.

Postcard of five views of Clonmel Co. Tipperary from Tipperary Local Studies collections

Very positive complimentary things could be written about the people in every house in the Terrace, but on this occasion, just memories of a few residents who come to mind.

Paddy Harte R.I.P. who used to hire buses and run excursions for the locals to the seaside.  This was the only opportunity most residents had to get to the beach, so these trips were appreciated.

Davy Kearns R.I.P. organised soccer matches for the kids of the area and supplied little trophies for the winners.  These games were played in what we used to call Neddy Daniel’s (Edmond O’Donnell General Carter) field, now the site of Pearse Park.

Jimmy Allen (James Hallahan) (Affectionately known as Jangles) R.I.P.  Probably one of the best ballad singer’s ever to be heard in Clonmel.  Sadly most of his songs were never recorded and only a few people had the good fortune to have heard these songs sung by a master.

Micky Fitzgerald R.I.P.  with his big heavy treble extension, timber ladder, could be seen repairing roofs on some of the highest buildings in town.   No fear of heights, you’d be dizzy looking up at him.

Georgie Sutcliffe R.I.P. was the man who travelled around the county and further afield in the evenings showing films in the Parish Halls.  This was the social evening out for people in these rural areas and was a service very much appreciated by them.  Georgie’s wife Biddy R.I.P. having passed away only recently was the lady who put the statue of “The Child de Prague” on the window ledge on the night before a resident’s wedding to ensure fine weather on the wedding day.  She was the genuine caring lady who was considered as every kid’s second mammy.

Neddy Daniels (Edmond O’Donnell) R.I.P. was the person who bought all the hit records of the day and then held record hops in the shed at the back of his house.  This was a forerunner to the Disco era.

On the day a resident was getting married, Neddy would have his speakers on the front windows sills of his house blasting out “I’m getting married in the morning”.  Neddy & his wife Kitty brought their musical equipment operated by a car battery on their horse and sidecar on sunny Sunday afternoons and entertained people in the surrounding areas, many of them dancing for hours in carparks and at crossroads.

The Byrne’s who were a family of musicians and played a variety of instruments. They could occasionally be heard playing beautiful music in the back garden of their house.

The O’Keeffe brothers Johnny & Paddy R.I.P. who were very involved in the parish choirs and were always available to sing at concerts or at events to raise money for charity.

Micky Lonergan R.I.P. a painter, who did beautiful sign-writing and graining on premises all over the town and carried all his materials around on his bicycle.

Willie Fitzgerald R.I.P. a gardener who produced amazing floral creations for every occasion.

Paddy Mullins R.I.P.  a baker, who would encourage all the young lads to get involved in some type of sport, but would really be telling you to join whatever football club you wished, as long as it was the Commercials  G.F.C.

Mary Gardiner R.I.P. who was always available to help when a neighbour was taken ill or when a death occurred in a family.

Remembering the Plunkett Terrace people who were involved in Gaelic Football, Hurling, Soccer, Rugby, Shot Put, Discus, Swimming, Cycling, Badminton, Tennis, Basketball, Boxing, Athletics, Irish Dancing, Weightlifting, Scouting, The Red Cross, Choirs. The Drama Societies, Music, The Boy’s Pipe Band (The pipers being instructed by our own Seanie (Johnny) Fennessy later to become head percussionist with the RTE Orchestra).  Not forgetting all the residents who left our shores and became successful in their chosen fields in faraway places.

Recalling the games and pastimes. The Street Leagues. Pitch & Toss, Flickers, Marbles, Collecting and playing Conkers(Chestnuts), Tops & Whips, 4 Wheel Carts, Betchel (Hop-Scotch), Playing football gate to gate while keeping an eye out for the Guards & only stopping to let an occasional car, a cyclist or a woman with a pram pass by, Jack-Stones, Learning to go on a bicycle on the Terrace, Dicky Dite (for those lucky enough to own a flashlamp). Making high-Jumps with bamboo canes & clothes pegs, Dudding Orchards, Robbing Bulmer’s apples in Dowd’s Lane, Kiss-Chase, Skittles, Cowboys & Indians, Hula-Hoops, Roller Skating on the road, Homemade Kites, Street Bowlie up (a form of rounders using a lamp-post), Galabandy’s and Slingshots. Hoop Races. Shuttlecock. Cops & Robbers, Street Tennis, Swimming up the Green, Catching Brickeens in Frenchman’s Stream.  Picking blackcurrants on Bulmer’s farm during the Summer holidays, Bobbing for eels down the Quay, Swimming in the Monastery Outdoor Pool and in the river at Beechgrove, Rolling down the Hilly field.  Swinging on ropes round ESB poles, Playing at the Ragwell, Hiking to Gleanary and bringing your bottle of tea & jam sandwiches, Running races around the cartrack circuit, Going to the Shower bath at Cascade, Collecting and selling scrap, Collecting and selling elder blossom and blackberries (Soaking them in water overnight to increase the weight). Thinking the buyer wouldn’t notice, bigger fools us.  Selling the empty large bottles back to the pubs.

Just remembering that all types of waste went into one bin, often the bin was an old oil drum or a child’s bath and the bin men had to psychically lift and empty those bins into a high truck in all types of weather.  This was long before the health & safety laws became popular.  These were really strong hard working men.

Hoping people can associate with these great memories of growing up at that time.


(Noel Fanning  Jan. 2013)

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