Shannonside memories

The eighth edition of An Caislean was launched at the annual Castleconnell Craft Fair on the October Bank Holiday weekend in the Castle Oaks House Hotel.

Known as the Ahane and Montpelier Parish Annual, and gives a detailed account of the history of the parish. This prize winning annual - the millennium issue published in 2000 came first in Ireland in the competition for parish magazines - has an excellent selection of articles, poems, features, well over 120 photographs, and many other items of interest from all parts of the parish.

This year for the first time, the committee introduced a colour centre spread of the parish churches. These excellent photographs were taken by An Caisleán photographer Steve Reidy.

The cover is graced by the magnificent picture of the stained glass window in the the sanctuary of Castleconnell Church also taken by Steve.

An Caisleán joint editor, Joe Carroll said; ‘ this year we have tried to keep a varied and interesting collection of articles, features, photographs, new and old, and other items of interest.

“The committee would like to extend their grateful thanks to everyone who gave us articles, stories, poems, photos and other material, not only from Castleconnell, Ahane and Montpelier, but also from places beyond the parish; thanks to everybody who helped in any way with this publication.

“We thank the secretaries and PROs of the local clubs and organisations - the teachers and the children in the parish schools for their involvement. A special word of thanks to our advertisers whose support every year is greatly appreciated. Indeed, without our advertisers this parish annual would not be possible,” said Joe.

An Caisleán has very interesting stories such as that from first time contributor Michael Thornhill, who gives an excellent account of his early years in Castleconnell and Ahane; he was one year old when his parents went to live in the fisheries in Castleconnell in 1934. After some years they moved again, this time to Woodstown, near Annacotty where his father was caretaker on the farm. “We used to look forward to cutting and saving the hay and bringing the trams into the barn using a horse and float. Our local village was Annacotty. If we got a six pence or a three penny we would treat ourselves to red lemonade, or an ice-cream or blackjack at Ryan’s, our favourite shop. Occasionally we would visit the Rara Avis (Black Swan) pub or Quilty’s pub with my father.”

Michael emigrated to England in 1947 and became a Christian brother. He remained in the Brothers until he was nearly 50 years old.

Joe Carroll writes about old names and places “in these times of round abouts, fly-overs, toll roads, slip roads and dual carriageways”.

He writes about how many of our old place names have disappeared, or have been dropped in favour of more fashionable and trendy addresses.

“It has been traditional among the farming community to put names on their fields, by doing so, it makes it easier for them to identify working areas of their farm, such names as The five Acres, The River Field, The Quarry Field, or The Paddock.”

Joe also tells about two old fields that now accommodate housing estates - they are The Plots at Stradbally, now St Flannan’s terrace, and The Paddock at the Spa, now Cedarwood Grove.

He stresses that unlike fields, streets, roads and lanes are more likely to resist change, especially the well established names such as Main Street, Castle street, Forge Road and Belmont Road.
In this article Joe continues with a mime of information on old names of boreens, lanes and roads in the parish of Castleconnell, Ahane and Montpelier.

Betty Bonner takes us back to the days when she first came to O’Briens Bridge in the late 1920s, where her father, Patrick opened and ran Bonners public house in the shannonside village.

She tells us that her father was from Donegal and mother from Kerry, about her growing up in O’Brien’s Bridge, about the time women didn’t go into bars, she remembers pubs then had what was called a snug.

Jimmy Ryan remembers Nurse Kelly from Knocksentry, Lisnagry, in a tribute entitled The Florence Nightingale of Our Time. He tells how the nursing midwife travelled on a bicycle at all hours of the day and night to minister to mothers at the birth of their babies, how she went way beyond her call of duty doing chores like lighting fires, cooking a meal for the family and played the mopther’s role of getting the family ready for school, as well as looking after the mother and new baby.

Sean Hartigan writes a fine tribute to Fanny Coffey, who died during the year. Fanny who a was very popular member of the community, was a contributor to An Caisleán. She was also involved with many of the organisations in the parish, particularly ICA and Care of the Aged committee for which she was a tireless worker.

There are some excellent pictures in this issue of Enright’s Fishing Tackle Shop taken in the early 1900s situated across from the church where Lee’s Grocery Shop now stands.

There is also a picture of the Shannon Hotel where dignitaries from all parts of the world stayed when they visited the village to fish in the 1900s - and a picture as it is today - The Shannon Inn.
There are pictures of old buildings in the village. Great credit to An Caisleán committee and all the contributors for a very interesting and entertaining read.

The hard-working committee who produced this magnificent journal are joint editors, Joe Carroll and Irene Hynes; secretary, Mary Dillon; treasurer, Pat Skehan; phototgraphs, Steve Reidy; schools, Peggy Duffy; clubs and organisations, Mary Dillon; advertising, Pat Skehan.

This book is on sale in business houses in Castleconnell, Lisnagry PO, O’Brien’s Bridge and Annacotty, costing E7.

Courtesy of the Limerick Leader
November 2004