Re:Curragh Memories 50s 60s 70s Hi Francis well do i remember the lovely avairy that your Father had in the back yard, and he would breed the various species of birds mostly canaries budgies etc, and when eggs would hatch he would delight in showing them off, and the train set that ran the lenght of the sitting room, and all the good times we had as he sent the train into motion, fond memories indeed. and the times we would spin around pearse on the shop messenger bike after taking out the basket and see how many of us could fit onto the bike at the one time, many a child learnt to cycle a bike on that messenger bike. yes happy days indeed. up Pearse up the Curragh, johnny
Hi Frank, we are not the Mc's that you are thinking of as we hailed from the other end of the Camp. Perhaps our paths crossed when we made our First Communion or Confirmation as I see we are the same vintage All the best, Anne.
Hi All, As has already been said, it is strange what triggers the memory. I was looking at the photos of the Corpus Christi procession and my eye was drawn to the four chimney pots per house in McDonagh. There was a fireplace in each room. I well remember my dad using the shovel to lift the burning turf from the living room (front room) of our house at night and bringing the turf to the bedroom fire to warm the place. Which reminds me of a practice which was strictly verboten. Electricity supply was ‘free’ for lights only. ‘Some people’ purchased on the never never an electric fire from Maginns and so long as only one of the fire bars was switched on and provided too many people in the block did not go overboard on this practice, you could get away with heating the bedrooms with the electric fire. Alas on numerous occasions the system would overload and the main fuse for the entire block would blow leaving us all in darkness. My dad (go ndeanfaidh Dia trocaire ar a anam) was not an electrician and was not familiar with electric loadings of cables and on one occasion extended the electric fire with lighting cable. I can still remember the burning smell of melting plastic and insulating tape form this episode. Thankfully we did not burn the place down. Did anyone else engage in the above practice or were we the only codgers in the block. Regards JJ
Post by rose5mcdonaghtce on Jun 30, 2011 18:23:05 GMT
Hi J J,
I can remember the fire in the big bedroom blazing, but never in the back bedroom, all I can remember of that is the twigs from the birds nests falling down into the empty grate. Now we did have an electric fire and only ever one bar was put on, my Dad wired the whole house at one stage, thought he fancied himself as an electrician, but was never aware that only lights were free, so there was method in his madness.
Can remember getting ready to go to the Christmas party and Mam not being happy with our ribbons and deciding to plug the iron in and give them the once over, I was standing by the sink, the minute the plug hit the socket, flames about a foot high shot out of the tap and we were left with our lives, but no electricity at all, there was some very bad things said about him that day. As far as I can remember an electrician from the B O W came and did the job properly, but even after he finished, if you touched off the electric fire with your toe even, the main fuse went.
I do remember the lino in the bedrooms and the mats beside the bed to put your feet on when you got up, and the shock that went up through your body from the cold if you missed the mat. A rude awakening after you had left your nice warm bed, it took forever to get warm when you got in though, the white sheets were a small form of torture, but once the body adjusted to the temperature and the great coat thrown at the bottom for the feet, bliss. Paddy Dillon RIP was very good at the fuses and the wiring, can remember Christmas time, we would have a triple adapter in the light socket, old brown wire trailing over to the Christmas tree and over to the big orange star on the overmantle, how we were'nt all burned alive is anyone's business, insulating tape was the order of the day, it was trailed around every flex in the house.
tis well I remember the transferring of the red embers from one fire place to the other in the home, many years later I continued as did many others to do the same when on fire picket and tasked with not putting out fires but having them lit before the leaders entered their warm offices much scuttling to and fro with a shovel of embers, not forgetting the cook houses for .the brekie.
As for the connection from the electric fire direct to the light bulb socket the connection for the fire and many other apparatus was a bayonet type round thing of a brown Bakelite substance with two wires running from the rear.
And even then back then where there was a wall socket it was a two pin affair with a multitude of different yokes connected that were not supposed to be
The fuses when they blew which was often most house holds had fuse wire or would borrow from a good neighbour " all were good neighbours Then" and if no fuse wire available then the silver paper from the auld fag packet was used to the same effect
Keep safe, keep well and keep your sense of humour. remember our wants are many, but our needs are few.
Hi Rose & Andy, I well remember the ‘silver’ paper from the fag box used as a fuse. On one occasion when my dad was on guard duty I attempted to replace such a fuse and remember getting my fingers burned when unscrewing the blown fuse. After that we kept a supply of fuse wire in the house. I suggested to my dad that he should put two strands of wire in the fuse to which he replied “Jesus do you want to burn the house down”. Rose, with regard to the use of electric fires, I can think of three reasons why it was forbidden. 1. The army had to pay for the electricity and as such there was a financial consideration involved. If everyone in the Curragh started using 2kW electric fires the bill would almost be as much as a retired government’s ministers pension.
2. It is very likely that the wiring in the houses was not designed for such luxuries as electric fires. The normal electrification of houses at that time was actually to wire up for one bulb and one socket. We were fortunate in having electric light in each room.
3. The electricity in the Curragh of the 50s was supplied from a generating station located behind the swimming pool. It is likely that to avoid a ‘nuclear meltdown’, the amount of electricity consumed had to be curtailed to below the max output of the station. House Inspections. On one occasion there was a house inspection whereupon an officer would inspect the house to ensure we had not made a complete wreck of the place. From what I remember it was a mere formality as the officer came into the front room only but just in case he decided to go walk-about my dad hid the electric fire in the turf shed. I remember my mother got into a huge flap when she was informed of the impending inspection and went about ensuring the place was in pristine condition. She had my brother and myself skate around the front room with cloths on our feet to produce a dazzling shine.The smell of floor polish could be detected in Naas. We were each given 6d for our efforts which we spent going to see a film called “Winchester 73” and even had enough to buy slab toffee. These ramblings of mine are beginning to look like a tribunal report so I better stop before I clog up the entire site. Regards JJ
Hi all Joey Kelly's marvellous memories of the Curragh, have taken me happily by the scruff of the neck back in time to some of my own memories of a great place at a great time and amongst great people.
He refers to children born on the Camp during the 50s,60s and 70s. I was born there in the 40s, but my activities and experiences then, were the same, exactly as Joey describes them.
When I moved away from the Curragh at 17yrs of age, to my regret, I continually denied my place, always saying when asked, that I was from Kildare. I kept this denial up until the late 60s when I had the good fortune to meet up in Dublin with one of my best friends from our Curragh days, Fergus O'Connor.
During our time together that day, Fergus and I talked furiously, as if trying to make up for lost time. We talked about things we did, because we had the facilities and were allowed to do them. We also talked about things we weren't allowed to do but did anyway and things we wanted to do, but didn't get around to doing. We especially talked and laughed about the stone battles and in particular the time the Brownstown boys and their allies chased us off our football field.
At the end of the day, we realised how much we had and how lucky and privileged we were to have grown up on the Curragh. We were spoiled and we took it all for granted. Before parting company with Fergus that evening, we agreed, that we would never again deny the amazing place of our birth.
Anyway, while reading Joey's riveting piece about inter-barrack fights and in particular, the big one between the Shadowers and the Towners, I thought you might like me to share a similar skirmish from my time growing up on the Curragh. It involved a combined force of Shadowers and an alliance of Ballysax, Brownstown, and Maddenstown. I think it was during the summer holidays of 1953, when I was nearly 9yrs old.
The seed of battle was sown unexpectedly at the junior sports field beside the ranges and just off the South Road. It was a warm and sporadically sunny early afternoon in the month of July, while myself and a small group of other very young shadowers were playing football. We stopped abruptly, when we noticed a large group of the alliance coming out from the trees on the Burma Road and making their way towards us.
At first we were just curious, but very quickly our curiosity changed to fear when the alliance group picked up speed and began runningh towards us, shouting and screaming as they rapidly closed on us. Younger than our attackers and hugely outnumbered, we had no option but to make a swift tactical withdrawl to the range warden's store where we found refuge.
From the safety of the warden's workshop, we realised that the aggressors had no interest in us. Their only interest was to seize and use our football pitch. They also seized our football, which we forgot to take in our haste to get away, even though the invaders had their own.
Our field and our ball taken from us by intimidation and our game cut short, myself and Fergus O'Connor, Marty O'Brien, Franky Curran, Johnny Reddy, Michael Cronin and others whose names escape me at this time, unhappily headed home to Clarke.
When we arrived at the McDermott end of the middle block at Clarke, where there was a lot of activity, we met up with a group of older lads. The names in that group included Douglas, O'Donnell, Keating, McGrath, Sheridan and many more whose names also escape me at this time. When they discovered what had happened, they were angry and immediately dispatched recruiting agents to all parts of the camp. Within a short time, we had a sizable army of nearly 50. About half were armed with black rubber sprung catapults.
All the Clarke shadower's catapults were sprung with red tube rubber, which was more pliable and elasticised than the black and was scarce. Puncture and tube replacements were carried out at the main garage/workshop which was part of Clarke Bks.
Before setting off to liberate our occupied football field, our leaders, Douglas and O'Donnell divided us into groups of ten and dispatched us in formation, across the curvy green area in front of McDermott.
Through the trees and a gap in the metal fence, (where we were compelled to stop briefly to allow a convoy of Ford armoured cars and Ford V8 trucks to pass) we piled onto the road opposite Dobbyn's shop. From there we sprinted down the hill passing between O'Donnell's old galvanised/wooden shop and the amused PA at his hut opposite the picture house. Finally turning left at the fruit-farm, we travelled along the South Road as far as the dental clinic where we assembled under cover of the trees and the grass bank lining the road. There we re-grouped and were briefed about the plan to liberate our field. I thought, as did others of my age group, that we should simply bombard them with stones and drive them back across the Burma Road, but our leaders had a more complicated plan.
The clash against the alliance differed in many ways to the inter-barrack stone fights that I remember. They weren't always organised or indeed caused by any obvious incident and there wasn't always something to be gained from them either. To my memory, I think mostly they occurred spontaneously and when they ended, peace between the beligerents was nearly instant and I don't recall any casualties on either side following those skirmishes. That was probably down to our lack of shooting skills. There was a reason for the battle against the alliance though and there was something to be gained from winning it too.
The action was planned with military precision. To avoid littering the football field with stones, the main force of about forty would wait in concealment within the trees on the South Road. A much smaller force of six would return along the South Road, go down the incline at the side of the fruit-farm and using the furze bushes as cover, they would move to positions on the other side of the field with the invaders in between.
They would then present themselves to the enemy from a safe distance and taunt them until such time as the alliance responded by attacking them and exiting the field. If that part of the plan worked, the six shadowers were to move immediately at speed directly towards the fruit-farm and back onto the South Road. The main force would then seize the empty pitch, engage the invaders and push them back across the Burma Road. Like all great plans though, one never can tell how it will pan out until it is tried.
At first the plan worked well. The invaders fell into the trap and moved against the shadowers. The main force also reacted as planned. They exited their hide and seized the field. The small force started their dash as planned too, but their escape was quickly cut off and they were intercepted and captured by the alliance.
The plan did not include this scenario. The main force, which included myself and the other evicted footballers, had encircled the enemy and their prisoners a short distance back from the Burma Road. We could only stand off in confrontation instead of battle, because we couldn't fire on them for fear of hitting our captured comrades.
Following much negotiating, the alliance surrendered and released the hostages. As was agreed during the negotiations, the shadowers escorted their prisoners through the trees and onto the Burma Road where they set them free. At this point, not a stone had been fired.
That quiescent state changed without warning, when the alliance turned abruptly, catching us off guard and immediately launched into an orgy of stone throwing at us. At first, some of their stones landed amongst us and we were compelled to withdraw a short distance. We re-grouped speedily and replied, but the stones from our black rubber sprung catapults fell short too. Douglas calmly ordered the Clarke boys to the front with their red rubber sprung catapults. They formed up in a double line and the order was given to aim and then the fire order was given. Meanwhile, the alliance stones were still falling close to our positions. Fifteen missiles took to the skies landing as aimed, smack bang on top of the shocked and surprised alliance. Following many squeals and a selection of bad language, the enemy fought no more and headed back to Brownstown where they demobilised and dispersed.
Hi Nick, What a fantastic story and so well told, it conjured up pictures of other battles witnessed I loved it, like Louis I'm sure you must have so many more such tales to tell and I for one can't wait to read them. You've started now and got us hooked so Keep them coming please.. MaryF
Hi JJ, Those are the type of ramblings that open the floodgates of others memories ;D. Clogging up the site you say not on your life! More like jogging up good memories and encouraging more of us to share. I was a dab hand(or foot) at the polishing of the lino in the bedrooms. With cloths firmly secured to the feet I used to 'skate' around the room and then holding firmly onto the frame at the bottom of the bed would slide backwards and forwards underneath the bed, finishing of the slide with the seat of your pants producing a shine that mammy would say 'you could see your face in it' or 'you could eat your dinner off that floor!! By the time we'd finished the sweat would be pouring off us and we'd be out of breath Oh the innocence we thought this as a form of entertainment and play and would do it on rainy days even without being asked! No tellies,playstations or suchlike in those bedrooms to keep us occupied! MaryF
Hi NICK what a great story i to remember battle's from different Bk's the boys with their Davey Crockett hats(mrs O'Neill had an old fur coat and made loads) and the boy's pelting stone's in all directions us girl's hiding behind trees in case we got hit by them happy days kathyo
Hi Nickey, Great story, well told. When I saw your name it reminded me that you were the first person I recognised in the Corpus Christie Photo on the site. I well remember the names you mention in your text. Frankie Curran RIP was not related to me but whenever we met in Kilkenny we got lost in time reminiscing about our time on the Curragh. Sadly Frankie died tragically at a very young age. I remember the battles between the barracks well and am glad to say that the injuries were minimal. I remember ‘gaining access’ to the engineers yard which was beside the school and ‘borrowing’ what I now know was an old transformer’. The core of this transformer was made up of thin stampings of sheet metal in the shape of the letter ‘E’. We got great fun out of throwing these E’s into the air like flying saucers. Everything was going well until I heard the scream of Lukey Kelly who to my astonishment had a letter ‘E’ sticking out of his head and blood streaming down his face.. As lukey’s father was a PA I made myself scarce only to face the music later. My mother made me go to Lukey’s house and apologise. The walk from no 4 F block in Ceannt to no 6 seamed to me at the time to be akin to the walk to the gallows. To my surprise I was received with compassion and forgiveness by Lukey’s father . As has been said many times on the forum, it’s strange what triggers the memory. It was indeed a unique and very special place to grow up in and I will always have fond memories of the vibrant and hectic place that was the Curragh of our time. Regards JJ