29 January 2017
The best singer , granny , mother and wife in the world
R.I.PMore > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
I love the site and thank you for your recent help, it was very much appreciated. I found a photo of my Glenmore O Neill connection. She was Annie O Neill married to Thomas Hughes in Belfast. She was daughter of Owen O Neill and Sally McKevitt. From your site I gather there is a McCann/Donnelly connection. Any further information would be great. Again Kevin thank you for all your help and this great siteMore > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
Serving Mass in 1953
In 1953 I became an alter boy. It wasn’t easy. I think there was more to it then than there is now. All the prayers and responses were in Latin .It was difficult enough to learn Irish at school. My memory of learning the Irish language is that it required the teacher to beat the living daylights out of me for me to progress. Is it any wonder that my love for it didn’t mature until about 50 years later.
Latin came to me a lot easier. I wasn’t required to learn nouns, verbs, pro-nouns, and adjectives, just a series of words and sounds in response to the priest who for the most part of the Mass had his back to me. The great morning finally came. I left Ghan House on my bike at 7.25am arriving into the sacristy 10 minutes later.I was quickly shown the ropes by a senior server who’s name escapes me. The surplices and cassocks hung on hooks on the side of the wall. I was quickly fitted out. The cassock was a close enough fit although it could have tripped me if I didn’t take care. The surplice was something else. I think it must have belonged to a visiting Parish priest. In today’s parlance it definitely could not be called “Designer wear” for it enveloped me in a sea of white with lace trimmings around the ankles.
We lit the candles, put the lights on, filled the cruets with water and wine and with 10 minutes to go I heard for the first time, the crunch, crunch, of the steps of Fr Mc Donald on the gravelled path that led to the sacristy door. “Goood Moooorning boys” –“Good morning father”.-”Is Evvvvrything ready”- Yes Father” – “Gooood, Gooood”.and so began the ritual of preparation by him as he dressed in his vestments. With his back to us he kissed the stole before placing it over his neck and with the chalice and paten covered with the pall, he covered all with the chalice veil, and we were ready to lead out on to the alter. One to the left of him, and one to the right of him.
“In noooominee Patris”, he began. As we blessed ourselves .Our first response came with “Ad Deum,que laetificat juventutem meam”.It was a breeze, no problems so far. We came to the “Confiteor”- now that was a horse of a different colour when it came to Latin. It was said along with the priest, who for the most part knew what he was talking about. The wonderful thing about the “Confiteor” from a 9 year old servers point of view was that it was said with utter humility. This meant that while kneeling, the further you got into the prayer the lower you bowed your body, nearly to a point where you were prostrate on the alter steps. The priest on the other hand was also bowed but he was standing and couldn’t get as low as you were.The real benefit of this was that he couldn’t hear what you were saying, so for the most part I just mumbled along –very fast. I became an expert at Mass over the years, till the introduction of the changes in Vatican two at being able to spot those who had mastered Latin from the level of their bodies during the “Confiteor”
“Dominus Vobiscum” The Lord be with you. If memory serves me right the two best performers of this prayer were Fr Ross O Reilly and Fr Mc Kevitt from the Back Lane. May God be good to both of them, now gone to their Eternal Reward. The priest in the Latin Mass faced the alter when celebrating and not the congregation. At several points in the Mass he was required to turn and face us with his arms outstretched saying the words “Dominus Vobiscum” I’m not sure whether they started the words before they turned but the speed at which they did would leave you breathless. If you were serving their Mass and you got to close, you could have had your head cut off by the tail of a swinging chasuble.
I have so many other memories of this time that I could relate, and indeed probable will in the future but its time to end tonight. At the end of the day
they were happy times and the grounding that I got from cradle till now has stood me in good stead.
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29 January 2017
Gathering Winkles and Rasberries
There were a few places that you could get summer employment as a child in the 1950s in Carlingford. Gathering winkles and offering to sell them to Michael John Boyle on the North Commons was fraught with disappointment. The winkles could be too small or picked from the wrong side of the shore. You ended up with no money and having to throw the days labour across the sea wall where they often mysteriously disappeared.
We picked raspberries and strawberries at 2 pence a punnet in one of 3 field farms, Rogans on the North Commons,Vincent Kierans on the Greenore Rd and Callaghan’s of Mullatee who supplied raspberries to Fane Valley for jam making.
Most of us age 10-12 preferred working with Callaghan’s. They supplied mugs of tea and thick slides of cottage loaf sandwiches filled with ham and mustard at lunch time. I picked there with assorted Woods and Mc Kevitt families children, Bernie Mc Cann from the Grove, the Ryan sisters Ann, Pat, and Deirdre daughters of Tom the Customs man. Mick Sheilds a nephew of the Callaghan’s, Mc Cormack’s from the Greenore Rd, Marjorie Donnelly from the Central Bar. Anthony Delaney from the Post Office .A few Mc Ardles from Newry St, .Helen Keenan from Tholsel St who later left were her family for Canada, Roisin Sheilds from the Castle Hill,Oliver Connolly from the railway cottage at King Johns pier and others that now slip my memory.
The day began at about 9. You were given your drill to work with a corresponding worker on the other side of the canes. Mick Callagan left you 12 empty punnets in a tray to be filled. The prospect of earning big money stretched out before you - 2 shillings and 4 pence when the 12 were filled, in today’s money that equated to 11 cent.
About 11.30 a.m. concentration would wane and the first squashed up handful of Raspberries would hit the back of your head. It was difficult to ascertain where they had come from due to the height of the canes but it would not take long before the whole field became in embroiled in a full scale Raspberry fight. The thought of money flew out the window and before long you were bloodied from head to toe with raspberry juice. A roar from Annie Callaghan normally restored order.
As I remember it, Mick Callaghan had a wee gra for the girls that we “men” envied.He too would gather raspberries and when his big cupped hands were full he would head to the nearest girls punnet and drop the lot in there filling it to overflowing. Ann Ryan was a favourite. She could have made money without working but in truth was the best thrower of a ball full of squashed fruit in the whole field.
They were wonderful happy days. It was the time of the Top 20 and Radio Luxemburg.
“Around The World” was No1 for 12 weeks on the trot. Jim Reeves was singing love songs and the first boy girl relationships were beginning to bud.
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29 January 2017
Miss Quinn had prepared us well for our first Holy Communion. Over and over and over again we repeated prayers before and after until they were word perfect. We had practiced everything in the classroom for the big day for weeks on end . She was the priest and the large iron cast fire-guard that surrounded the coke stove at the centre of the back wall was to be the alter railings. If you who don’t understand the reason why there were railings its important to remember that they were in all Catholic churches until decreed to be removed after Vatican Two.
We would line up, hands joined- there would be no interlacing of fingers - straight fingers only and thumbs crossed over to hold the position. We knelt down in a row on the classroom side of the fire–guard in deep prayerfulness and desperately tried to ignore the swish of the Masters cane on the far side of the partition. The “priest” Miss Quinn took the “ciborium” with the “hosts” to the other side of the fire-guard. We knew from the bigger boys that had gone before us that this would be a moment of sheer ecstasy. I watched from the corner of my eye and could see the long black skirt and black flat shoes move ever closer. It was important that you got your timing just right. Reverence demanded that you close your eyes and put your tongue out to receive the host. It took me quite a time to perfect this. If you closed your eyes too soon and put your tongue out and nothing happened, you could open them again put your tongue back in just as communion arrived . Disaster! I got it perfect on this occasion, eyes closed , tongue out and Miss Quinn laid a dolly mixture right smack in the middle of it.Wow! We loved this part of the practice.
The big morning arrived for me. I was suitably prepared, my soul sparkling like the cleanliness of day of my baptism. I was word perfect the final dress rehearsal had been inspected by the Master himself from next door. We had made our first confession and I had told the priest that I had stolen more buns from my mother that she had ever baked. I just didn’t want to get the number wrong.
As for cursing, the priest must of thought that I spoke nothing else but curses when he asked “How many times”. I was so glad there was a curtain between me and him and that he couldn’t see me and even if there hadn’t been, he would only have seen the top of my head for I had crouched down just in case.
I was suitably decked out for the big day with my new suit bought from Sean Burke in Earl St. Short trousers were the norm then with socks to the knees and black shoes, special white prayer book that included Latin, throw in a few aunts, Godparents, if your family knew a few nuns that would insure that you had enough rosary beads to last you a lifetime.
It is hard to image now but at that time my father had just bought a machine called a fridge. It measured about 3 frt. 3ft.It was used to store milk and butter.We had never seen the like of it before as up till this time these items were kept in “The Safe” in the scullery which was a number of shelves about 6 in all with wire mesh doors to keep the flies away. I loved milk. It came from the cow that we owned in Castletown. My Uncle Thomas milked it each day, we collected the milk, and he got the calves each year, a workable arrangement. On the morning of my communion I went to the new fridge door opened it and was amazed to see ice on the top of the jug where the cream should be. Without a moments hesitation I lifted the jug to my head and lowered the lumps of frozen milk into my mouth.It was at that moment that my brother Michael later to become a priest arrived on the scene. ”You broke your fast” he said “you can’t go to communion”.
At that time the rules were that you had to fast for 24 hours before receiving. Word spread around the house like wildfire. They all arrived to the scullery “ You broke your fast, you broke your fast”. I think my mother said that I shouldn’t been drinking out of a jug. We left Ghan House for St Michaels in silence.We arrived in silence except for the sobbing and sniffin of myself the sinner.The Master was there organizing everyone. I didn’t dare to raise my eyes to look at him. The saints sat in the front row of the church while I was in the middle of the congregation with my parents. The great moment came, the saints knelt the length of the rails, hands just right, eyes closed, tongues to receive, “Corpus Christi” and my moment was gone. The saints were congratulated on their great day and left the church for the customary group photograph. As a concession I was allowed to stand in.I have never seen this group photo in all that I have collected, it might be that it was torn up by everyone that had one for I must have looked a sight.
I made my first communion on the next Monday morning at the regular Mass, on my own with my family there. I am probably the only one that this happened to in the parish or maybe even the country. God made up for my disappointed that Sunday long ago, I got an extra day off school and no saint ever made as much money in 6d pieces as I did over the week as the news of my story spread. Thank you God.
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