Friday, November 09, 2007

A final farewell Jem.

It's one week now since Jimmy, my brother-in-law left us to go to a far better place.

He is now resting near my father, mother and other family members in St Fintan's in Sutton. If you walked a bit down the slope at St Fintan's, and looked to your centre left, and if the light was just right you would be treated to the lovely serene view that you see here to the right. My father used to say that it was "The healthiest graveyard in Ireland!" because of the clean and fresh sea air.

Jimmy appreciated that kind of humour too.

I mentioned below that Jimmy loved the tenor voices of Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti. So I will now bid a final adieu to you Jem.... no one that ever knew you will forget you..... walk with God my friend.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

To Jimmy

This is a photo of Jimmy McLoughlin singing in a bar in Spain. A happy day for him and for all who were with him.

But on Tuesday 30th of October 2007 Jimmy left us.

Many from the Summerhill area drop in to read this blog, many who will know Jimmy. Bide a moment and remember him.

And to help you remember him, he lived at one time in 42K, right next door to Terry Kelly's pub which later became Hourican's. It stood at the corner of Lower Rutland Street and Summerhill. And Jimmy went to Rutland St school.

Jimmy, (or Jem as we used to call each other -- both of our real names being James) was a husband to Joan, a dad, a grandad, a brother, a brother-in-law...... a man of a big, loving family.... and a son still grieving at the passing of his dear mother May and of his father John.

He was a friend with an ever cheery word.. and I will miss that as well as the good natured slagging we sometimes shared when he regularly dropped by my home.

He shall be missed.

But a few words of a poem often help us ponder.... and to realise that...

There is no death!
The stars go down
To rise upon another shore,
And bright in heaven's jeweled crown
They shine for evermore.

Jimmy loved music and song. He enjoyed the singing of Dean Martin and the tenor voices of Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti, a love of tenor voices I believe he inherited from his father who had a lovely tenor voice himself.

So I will leave you now Jimmy.... I will leave as Pavarotti the tenor maestro performs in a way that you loved.

Farewell Jem.... this is for you.....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A little Irish culture

It's now one week since I heard of the passing to her eternal reward of our friend from the GB, Sarah.

Sarah loved and was proud of her Irish roots.

So before I return to write again about the dear old mean streets of Dublin, and about my early life's experiences in those streets. I want to say a final farewell... adieu.. slán to Sarah (or Sally as she's known to her family)

This is not a mark of mourning at her passing, but a celebration of her life.

A piece of ceol agus rince.... always part of a true Irish way of bidding a final fond goodbye.

I think she would like this, it's the original Riverdance as it was seen for the first time here in Dublin.

For you Sarah.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Farewell Sarah

A guestbook, a shoutbox, the comments to posts in blogs. Who gives them much thought? Not many I'll bet. Most leave a note and that's it. Some don't even bother.
But you can meet some special people through writing in a guestbook. I and many others met such a special person.

If you read through one of my shoutboxes or many of the comments to my posts you'll see the name Sarah.

I first 'met' Sarah on another guestbook, the one for the Gardiner St Website Sarah was a daily visitor there, spreading her cheer and chat with the other regulars on that guestbook. Yes it's that kind of guestbook, one where people from all over the world meet, get to know each other and become friends. I chose a yellow rose here because in a recent topic on roses Sarah said her favourite is yellow.

Now Sarah has left us. She went to her eternal reward on 10th of this month.

This beautiful yellow rose is for you Sarah.

I offer my deepest sympathy to her family, friends and everyone who knew and loved her.

We will all miss you Sarah, but are comforted in knowing that you are in a better place. May God bless you and all who love you.
~Ár deis Dia go raibh a n-ainm.~

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

He's moved!

He isn't here at the moment. We're just minding some of this stuff that he has all parcelled up to move to the new blogger page.

We can't understand why he's moving at all, but who can understand humans anyway?

But he asked us to mention to anyone dropping in (he thinks we can talk too!) that he's working hard moving all the stuff from the old blog to the new one. Said something about the new one being easier because of something called elements.

Anyway, give him a few days to get everything sorted and he'll be back waffling about his time as a kitty... oops that should be a human kid.

Oh yeh, and he said the web address will remain the same.

He left a game for you humans to play with, it's at the bottom. Nothing for us though!

Anyone got a bit o' fish or something to donate to us minders? The parcels are comfortable to sleep on but no good for eating.... we tried.

Bye for now. (Right gang, lets see whats in that big square one... )

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I'm on the move

But only to the new blogger.

The address will remain the same and none of the posts should change.

However the add-ins like guestbook, map and other bits and pieces should look neater by the time I've completed the move. At least I hope so.

The blog might look a bit different in a day or two, but please bear with me. Things can only get better. (fingers crossed)

Very soon I'll be back with my stories of growing up in Dublin's inner city.... I've been doing a lot of thinking and remembering, so drop back often if you're interested.... and even if you're not because you might become interested. And believe me, if you have even the slightest interest in old Dublin I have lots to tell you.

Seeya soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sean's First Steps

A new Leonard on the block. This is a little video clip of the newest Leonard -- Sean's First Steps

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Memory of a 3 year old Marie

The corner you see in the picture is one of those corners I mentioned earlier when I referred to The Four Corners of Hell. In this photo you can see one of the pubs (this one was "The Green Kilt") that stood at the four corners -- the other three corners are out of picture. Summerhill is the street in picture and the side of the pub is in Lower Gardiner Street, 5 doors from where Marie was born. (The pub is No 121 Lr Gardiner St. Marie was born in No 116 five doors to the left, out of picture)

Our Gran used to sell fruit and sweets from a stall at that corner of Summerhill and Gardiner Street. The 'stall' was one of those old high prams with the big springs and different sized wheels back and front. The fruit and bags of sweets were set out on a board, usually a breadboard, stretched across the pram and passers by bought apples and pears for one penny each and a bag of broken rock was two pence.

She used to go to sweet factories and buy big lumps of boiled rock that had spilled over the edge of the boiled-sweet making machine. Rock that had gone hard and all out of shape. (Rock is that round stick of toffee that you see on sale at seasides) She would bring these slabs of rock home where she had this little hammer that she used to break it into smaller pieces, small enough to fit in your mouth. Then she would fill small paper bags or sometimes paper cones made of a newspaper page and that's how the sweets were presented for sale.

Click to see Gran here: "The Mother of all the Leonards"

And here's where Gran used to buy the fruit, at the Fruit Market.

Now on with Marie's memories.....

"I remember when I was about 3 years old my gran would take me to the fruit market with her. We would have to go to the markets very early in the morning before the fruit was sold out, and she would push me along on a big old pram that she would put all her boxes of fruit on. Because she used to sell the fruit we did not get any free samples, but to see the big apples and the oranges god did they make my mouth run water.

As I say, she used to sell sweets as well. I loved her weighing scales and I remember she bought me a toy one. It was yellow and red. One day when I was in her basement flat, I think it was beside The 27 Steps, I wanted to weigh her sweets on my weighing scales and she would not let me so I threw a tantrum and smashed my weighing scales. Well all hell broke loose then. God did I get into trouble for that. My mam said, "Mary dont give her anything else she is too bold." Mary was my Grans name.

But she was very hard on us sometimes my Gran,and then at other times she was very good.

I remember another time I was walking down Sean McDermot street with her and the priest was passing us and because I did not genuflect to the priest I got a wallop across the head and was told, "You are to always respect the priest!" God if only we knew what was to come out in later years about the priests I wonder would I have got that smack in the head.

Anyway if we where bold, like I often was, I was told I would be brought to the priest and he would stick me to the floor. We where so afraid of the priests power. Or we would be told we would be put in the Magdalen Home and never allowed out again. The things we would be told was scary.

But best of all I loved when my Gran would bring me into Willie Barratt's (a shop two doors away from where I lived in Gardiner Street) and buy me a glass of milk and snow cake. I loved that. When I think back the cake would melt in my mouth and the milk was lovely because it was in a real glass not a jam jar."

Ah sure they were the days.....

Thursday, May 10, 2007

You'll Never Walk Alone

This song has special meaning to me, and although the street scenes are of Liverpool they could well be my Dublin in the 1960s. Hard to tell them apart. They're the kind of streets I grew up in and the kids might well be my friends and me.

Thank you to Webbie over at World Link in Gardiner Street Dublin for pointing me to this video clip. Visitors who click on that link please drop in to the Guest Book there and get to know the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Our Dad.....our forever friend

On this date 24 years ago at about 9.30pm I looked up to see a head shaking sadly from side to side. No words were immediately spoken, but I knew....our Dad had passed on to his eternal reward.

Scalding tears of unspeakable grief drenched my face. My Dad, my Friend was gone!

But the pain was eased a bit in the knowledge that he was no longer in pain....that he was once again united with the woman who was his life's partner, our Mother, who had so recently left us too... and they must be happy together again once more.

That's why I chose the photo above. It's a picture of them together in life, now they are forever together.

And we remember... with love and pride in our hearts.

I have chosen a poem for this day. It's the original version of the poem by Mary Frye. It strikes a familiar chord.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

And thats where Dad is for me.... all around me... and always living in my heart.

You see he is as it says at the top of this post..... my forever friend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Loanshark.

In an earlier entry I mentioned something about a man who made my mother cry. I want to speak a bit about that man, the situation that caused my Ma to cry, and what happened after that.

The man was a loanshark. But this time my mother didn't have a loan from him. You see he also went around offering to colour old black & white family pictures and for that you repaid him weekly. The weekly repayments never seemed to end. This guy was well known and disliked in the area. But he was tolerated. They had to tolerate him because so many people depended on the money he used to lend, even if it was at an astronimical interest. At that time there was no legal protection from these guys. They could charge what interest they liked on loans.

Anyway, my Ma gave him a black & white picture of her mother and father to colour and he did the job. Not a great job, but to have a family picture in colour and in a nice frame was a thing to be proud of back then.

He called every week for his payments. A small bald headed man who wore thin wire rimmed round spectacles, always carried a thin briefcase, some kind of folder under his arm and he always seemed to carry his hat in his hand rather than on his head. I remember noticing that his head seemed to be perpetually sunburned. He would rap on the door and call out, "The picture man!" and Ma would open the door and give him his weekly payment. He never spoke, just took the money, wrote something in a notebook and went on his way.

But one week Ma was short of money and couldn't pay. He stood back from the door and shouted that he wasn't doing this for nothing. That he wasn't a charity! I remember him shouting that he knew my Dad was working and that Ma was well able to pay. And they were just the printable things he said. I was just a kid but I could see that Ma was very upset and that she was crying. I remember wanting to hit that guy, but he went off still calling over his shoulder that she better have it (the payment) next week, and on the double or there'd be trouble. Ma sat at our one table with her head in her hands and cried and I saw how she shook. She asked me not to say anything to Dad when he came in, so I kept quiet.

But I brooded about what had happened, and especially about how upset Ma had been.

Meet my three my pals from that time. In no particular order there was Sean (Seanie) who was the oldest, he was about a year older than me and I thought he was very wise. He read a lot of books. So did I but his were never fiction. He was a mine of information on WWII which he seemed to read about an awful lot. He was the quiet one, but the one who no one crossed because he spoke quietly and struck out if you annoyed him. Someone who could frighten. But like I say, I liked him and sort of looked up to him too.

Then there was Jimmy (yes another one, I was called Jimmy then too). Jimmy was the skinny one, or at least he was skinnier than me. But Jimmy was a great singer. I liked him for that, he seemed to sing all the time and sometimes Seanie would give him a wallop to shut him up. It wasn't a hard wallop, just hard enough to shut poor Jimmy up. Jimmy always took it in good part and now that I think of it I don't think I ever say him in bad humour. In fact he used to slag off Seanie just for the hell of it.

Paddy made up the third of the four of us. Paddy was a dreamer. He lived the western movies that we used to go to see at the local cinemas, or picture houses as we called them. We never called them cinemas. There were three main ones that we went to. The Maro (in Mary Street), The Plaza (in Granby Row) and The Lec (the latter short for the grand name of "The New Electric Cinema", which was in Talbot Street) If we saw a movie (oh yeh, we didn't call them movies, they were 'the pictures') about Zorro for instance then Paddy would be wearing a Zorro mask and cape and carrying a sword (home made of course) until we went to see the next western. There was one I recall about the Alamo and Davy Crockett. Well Paddy had to get that furry hat too, the one with the tail hanging on the back. I know they had a proper name but we just called them Davy Crockett hats.

Then there was me of whom you might know enough, and if not I'll talk more at a later date.

Now, the four of us used to sit on the steps outside the tenements in Summerhill. I think they call those steps 'the stoop' in the US. Seanie told me that. So a few nights after what had happened to Ma I talked about it as we chatted on the steps. Seanie said we should do something. Jimmy agreed, but then again Jimmy always agreed with Sean, it was good for his health. Paddy said he should be run out of town. I definitely wanted something done. So we talked about it and made a plan that I honestly didn't believe would work, and also I thought it would take too long and I wanted justice now.

But we carried on with the plan. Out at the back of where we lived there was a very big yard, long grass growing through the skeletons of rusted bits of bikes,old iron bedsteads, a place where kids weren't allowed to play and grown ups didn't go. And there was one big feral cat living amongst this junk. We set out to make friends with the cat. We brought it bits of food and we sat nearby while it ate until eventually it's fear of us seemed to go away and it would come and beg food from us, and rub itself against our legs. I remember that although the cat had become more or less friendly that I was still a bit wary of it.

The day dawned, as they say in all the best stories.....

Along one side of that yard I spoke of there was a high (to us) wall, and running beside the wall was the lane that led from The Diamond to Gardiner Street, where we lived. We sort of hung on the wall, leaning partly over it with our legs hanging inside so that only our heads and part of our shoulders could be seen from the lane. Beside us sat The Cat. He (or she) had never been named, it was always The Cat. We knew that the loan shark (or the picture man, take your pick -- he was both anyway)came from The Diamond, up the lane and into Gardiner Street, on foot of course, only the wealthy had cars. He may have been wealthy but didn't have a car. I remember what he was wearing. He had on a long overcoat that was called A Crombie, an expensive coat at the time, and as usual he carried his hat in his hand. His bald head like a beacon as he drew closer.

We remained very quiet until he drew level with us who were now above him, along with The Cat. Just as he was immediately below us Seanie dropped the bomb, which was The Cat! Maybe it was because of all those war books he read or something, but his bomb aiming was perfect. The Cat landed right on the picture man's bald head! Ever see a cat when it's scared? It sort of makes a hump and digs it's claws in? Well that's exactly what it did. Only when it dug in it's claws they were into yer man's bald head. He actually screamed, which I suppose frightened the cat even more with predictable results and when he tried to knock it off his head that cat dug in for dear life. The result to the picture man was that his bald pate was lacerated with cat scratches. His head was covered in blood and I remember seeing it on the shoulder of his Crombie coat too. The Cat took off and jumped the wall beside us and the picture man ran in the direction of Gardiner Street. We ran through the house and into the street to see where he was heading, and a woman had already stopped him and she applied first aid. It was just scratches but they bled a lot, and most of all the whole thing gave him a major fright. I mean it's not every day that a cat lands on your head out of the blue.

We remained friends with The Cat, or maybe that should read The Cat remained friends with us even after how we had treated it so mean that one time. It followed us about until eventually we saw it no more and assumed it had either died or had run off with a mate.

The picture man? Yes he came back the following week and he had sticking plaster still covering his scratches. We were standing at our hall door when he called and Seanie told him not to call anymore. Jimmy got a fit of the giggles, Paddy told him to get out of our street and I remember him looking at me and I think even then he knew why he had been ambushed by these four kids. But Seanie took it upon himself to explain anyway.

I don't think Ma ever paid for that picture (no one ever called afterwards for the money), and as far as I know someone in the family still has it.

So that was the tale of a cat and four boys, who as it happens didn't turn out to be gangsters after all. Close but not really. The picture at the top is the scene of the 'crime', X marks the spot.

Next time I think I'll talk a bit about The Four Corners of Hell and how we used to have a ringside seat after the pubs closed and the fights started.

Till then.... look up if passing a high wall!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year 2007

Hello everyone, and a Very Happy New Year to All.

I'm sorry it's taking so long to continue with the story, but since my last post here I had a bit of a relapse in that I haven't been feeling the best. But then again it's that kind of weather here in Ireland, the kind where it seems everyone has colds and sniffles of some kind. As well as that the doc did tell me that it would be about 6 weeks before I'd be back to my old self again, so I'm trying to be patient (no pun intended :-)

But all of this has given me a lot of time to do some thinking and remembering and that has resulted in more stories that I have yet to tell.

Then too, just the other morning I was taking a short walk and met an old schoolfriend. Philly and me started primary school in Rutland Street on the same day, we were in the same classes and had the same teachers. Back then you had to have a 'partner' in school (think it was to make it easier for the teachers to keep us under control) and anywhere you went either in the school, in the playground, or on outings to the local church you had to hold hands with your partner. Philly was my 'partner' in school.

Anyway, Philly and me (should that be Philly and I? My grammar was always the pits) got to chatting after greeting and wishing each other the compliments of the Season. We must have looked like two lunatics standing there in the biting wind chatting like two old..... (oops better not say that or I'd be in trouble with the wimmin :-) We were on a trip down memory lane and didn't notice the weather as we remembered the good days and the bad ones. That chat with Philly has reminded me of things I had almost forgotten, and later I'll be talking about them here. Thanks Philly, may ya never want!

As we parted I said to Philly, "As I remember the things we got up to I wonder how come we managed to stay outta REAL trouble at all?" Philly's answer was a good one. "We caused our share of mayhem.... but we never actually hurt anyone." Maybe THAT'S why our memories are all mainly good ones.

On that note I'll take my leave for now and I look forward to getting back to the writing. Remember where we left off? I have to tell you about how we kids settled a score with a man, a loan shark, who made my mother cry. Coming soon.