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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Austin Crowe
Graiguecullen Memories
Source: Michael Purcell

Lieut. Col. Austin Crowe pictured with his old schoolmaster Mister Aidan Murray in 1989 at a local history conference in the Scots Church, Carlow, the event was organised by Carlow County Heritage Society.

The following document was provided by Michael Purcell and transcribed by Friend of Carlow.


Part 1, Austin Crowe on Graiguecullen.

Submitted by Selina Lawlor.

This article recorded in a copybook by Austin was presented to Michael Purcell in 1991 for publication in the journal "Carlow Past and Present" unfortunately it remained unpublished.

Austin was one of four brothers all of whom died in their early 60s, at the time of writing Austin was over 60; he knew his time was short.

This letter from Austin accompanied the copybook:-

Newtown Park Ave.
8th Feb. 1991.
Dear Michael, Sorry for long delay - but I had already - " almost" completed the "job" when I had to go into hospital - two operations within the year and had to learn to write all over again.
However I've just completed the enclosed and it may be of interest to the "Graigue fellows".
This summer, please God, I hope I may be able to get down to see you all for a while.
Yours sincerely, Austin.

Austin Crowe died 11th September 1996.

The article was transcribed by J. .J. Woods in March 2013.

“Further Reminiscences on Graigue”

By Austin Crowe.

“Gr’ig O Dionn 1554 A. D.”

An early reference to Graig was that taken from an inquisition No. 10 of Elizabeth I on the restoration of lands to Gerald XI, Earl of Kildare, in 1554 A.D. among which was mentioned: Graggoden (Graig) and a castle called ‘The White Castle’. This was a corruption of Graig O Dionn. It was from this location that most of the attacks on the Anglo-Saxon town of Carlow were carried out by the O M’rda (The O’Moores) in the 13, 14, and 15 centuries.

In 1646 Gen. Preston, the Confederate leader, failed to take Carlow Castle, but instead, took ‘The White Castle’ with his artillery from the Graig side of the Barrow. Later in 1647 Gen. Preston, continuing the siege, took the castle on May 2 and remained in possession up to July 1650.

Gen. Sir Hardress Waller took Carlow Castle from the Graig side in 1650 by imitating Gen. Preston and planting his artillery along the river bank called Castle View. The portion of the bridge nearest ‘The White Castle’ was thrown down and Waller decided on the stratagem of using the long reeds gathered in bundles (which were growing in the Barrow) and held in place by cables attached by pickets to either side of the river. They were covered by wattles and were of sufficient strength to take companies of infantry and troops of horse. Eventually ‘The White Castle’ was taken and Carlow Castle was taken by Ireton from the Carlow side of the river.

“The Brewery of St. Mary’s Well”

This brewery was located in Bridge Street, next to the old G.A.A. club and was still in use up to 1873 as can be seen from O.S. Map of that date. It produced approximately 20,000 gallons of whiskey per annum and it was operated by a huge water wheel which received its motive power from the underground streams connected to the river Barrow. This wheel held an eerie attraction for my pals and myself when coming home from school, it’s creaking and swishing of the water presented to our young minds something extra-terrestrial.


The junction of Maryboro’ Street and Bridge Street had a certain significance for my grandmother, Mary Maguire. She worked as a cook in DeRochfort’s house in Clogrennan and on one occasion she gave a loaf of bread, without permission, to a poor beggar. Later she confessed her transgression and received as penance ‘that she would have to walk barefooted from Rochfort’s house to her home in Graig.’ She discovered that she could carry out most of her penance by removing her boots on the Barrow track-line and putting them on near the bridge before she went down the street, thus saving face, but whether she completed her penance or not is a matter for conjecture. When married, her name became Begley, and it was in her house that I spent the first twenty years of my life.

“Graig Chapel of Ease”

On the left-hand side of Maryboro’ Street (about time this street name was changed) was located the Chapel of Ease since Killeshin was the Parish Church. Eight members of my family were baptised here, my father being a Carlow man was considered a runner into the village of Graig. The Chapel was built in 1807 and perhaps was indirectly responsible for saving the lives of the people of Mill Lane in 1814.

The Castle of Carlow overlooked Mill Lane and at this particular time a Dr. Middleton, with the intention of turning the castle into an asylum, had undermined the walls with explosives, thus weakening the curtain walls and towers on the eastern side to such an extent that they came crashing down on the houses of Mill Lane one Sunday morning while the people were at early Mass in the Church of Ease as a result no lives were lost.

On the building of the new Church of St. Clare’s in 1928 the old church building became the Parish Hall of St. Fiaac. In1937 the remains of three priests were exhumed and transferred to the new church on the Killeshin Road. The body of Father James Maher was found to be in a perfect state of preservation which was attributed to his long life of holiness and poverty during his priesthood.

“The Thatch Public House”

The last thatched pub in the town of Carlow was located on this side of the street, but it lost its great aura of antiquity when it was re-roofed with slates some years ago. Its further claim to fame was due to the fact that Samuel Glover, who wrote the music for the Rose of Tralee, was born here.

Part 2, Austin Crowe on Graiguecullen.

“The Forges of Graig”

In my time there were three forges, two in Maryboro’ Street and one located at the junction of Chapel Street and Killeshin Road. The fact that three forges existed almost cheek by jowel up to the late sixties showed how important these forges were before the mechanisation of the agricultural industry. The forge nearest the bridge in Maryboro’ Street was owned by a Mr. Bill Hoare, whose forte was in the shoeing of horses, donkeys, etc. On my way home from school I often stood watching the shoeing in progress. It never failed to impress me how these men could work in blinding smoke when the red hot shoes were being tested for fitting on the horses’ hoof. For my part I always stood to the windward side while this process was taking place as I couldn’t stand the smell. The nailing of the shoe to the hoof made me uneasy for fear the nails might not go the right way. However, those men were professionals at the trade and rarely if ever made mistakes.

Wrought iron work was also carried on in this forge and I recall on one occasion at least they constructed creels for an old Ford chassis. Of course, this very vehicle became the enemy of the forge.

McDarby’s forge was mainly given over to the wheelwright business. Wheels for the horse cart and, of course, wheels for donkey carts were also manufactured here. There were templates at the rear of the forge for the different sizes of cart wheels. Carts were also constructed at the forge, but the most interesting part of the work was that of fabricating the wheels. It was fascinating to see the red hot iron hoops being attached to the wooden rims when cold water was thrown on the wheel to expand the wood and contract the iron hoop, making a bond that would last anything up to twenty or thirty years. This forge closed down in the early forties due to the war and the mechanisation of the farm.

The last forge in Graig to continue the manufacture of horse shoes was Dan Brennan’s at the junction of Killeshin Road and Chapel Street. The forge was in operation up to the late ‘60s. It was a very popular place for the locals to congregate when work was slack, and Dan, being a good humoured man, liked the company of his neighbours during those periods. Often they took part in games requiring great strength and agility, i.e. anvil lifting and carrying it some distance was one requiring considerable strength.

Micky Nolan of Sleaty was the only one I knew who excelled in this particular contest. He was able to carry the anvil around the forge and return it to its block with considerable ease. Pitching old horse shoes onto a post was another pastime and, of course, there were the experts one finds in such locations. Alas his forge has gone and only the outline of the foundation can be seen at ‘Brennan’s’ corner though not forgotten:

"Where many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground, And sleights of art and feats of strength went round" (Goldsmith).


Nowadays very few people would remember when we had no lighting other than oil lamps in our homes. There were two public lights, one on the bridge and one located some distance up our street. Electricity for public lighting was generated by Alexanders of Milford from 1905 until the diesel electric turbines were installed in the Quays, midway between this date and the early ‘30s. In the early thirties the Electricity Supply Board began replacing all local suppliers of electricity which work was mainly carried out by the German company of Siemens Schuert. As youngsters we took great interest in the erection of poles and cables, and listening to the strange accents of the men employed in this work. As far as I can remember they consisted mainly of German and Belgium crews. We accordingly went home and imitated these crews by shouting unintelligible words to one another while digging holes in our gardens causing much damage which was not appreciated by our parents.

The newly erected lights in our street were a boon to those of our pals not given to early rising but to late night gatherings under these lights.

Saturday nights were given over to late night choral practice since the lights were not extinguished until approximately 12.30 p.m. Among the repertoire were such songs as “By the Bright Silvery Light of the Moon”, “Fr. Murphy of Boolavogue”, “The Rose of Mooncoin”, “Rose of Tralee”, and many others topical of the time. However, my father, who was a very light sleeper did not always appreciate the late night concerts of our musical friends. Accordingly, one night when the ‘choir’ was well into its musical accomplishments, my father devised the stratagem of throwing a tin can over the roof of our house (which was only a single storey). The ensuing clatter of the can in the street was like a grenade exploding, which in turn brought an abrupt end to the choral activities causing the choir to scatter in several directions. The location had the name of being haunted and the choral activities were discontinued for a considerable time afterwards.

Part 3, Austin Crowe on Graiguecullen.

“98 Street” “Graig Bridge”

The main route from Castlecomer to Graig prior to 1830 was via the Laurels to Chapel Street, Church Street, Bridge Street to Graig Bridge. It can be seen from Moland’s Map of 1703 that the cutting of the line from the Laurels to Graig Bridge did not exist at this date.

The extension of the Killeshin road to Graig Bridge is shown on the O.S. Map of 1839. the bridge, of course, was originally astride the boundary between Laois and Carlow until Graig was brought into the urban area of Carlow in 1841. This bridge holds great memories of sentimental value to me ‘the school days which were not the happiest’ but the holidays much happier from whence one could see the rods and lines laid along the river bank early on Sunday mornings. All those with rods watching the concentric circles around the lines awaiting the corks to be chucked under the surest sign the bait had been taken.

Fish most commonly caught at this time were perch, eel and roach. Trout were becoming scarce at this time due mainly to the pollution from the Beet factory which lasted from season to season and about which little was known at the time (this was pollution cleared up and stopped some years later).

Salmon had not been caught beyond Milford at this time, and I am convinced that this was due to river pollution. Further effluent from the factory was transmitted by pipe lines across the river to the swamp lands in Sleaty and this added to the pollution when it seeped through the streams into the river. Bird life was affected accordingly and together with insecticide, led to the disappearance of such birds as the Corn Crake, Jack Snipe, Bog Larks and Heron from the bogs in Graig. Eels were still available in the drains bordering these bog lands. Some of the drains within the boundary walls of the Barrow Navigation Company contained eels only, which seemed to exist where other fish had long since disappeared. It was fishing for eels that we used the system of ‘porting’, which was simply a hazel rod with a sally quiver tied on top to which a line, bait and hook were attached.

Then, having noted the eel’s mud trail, one would select the most likely hole in the wall where an eel would lay in wait for a bait. Then, placing the rod and bait close to the mouth of the hole, one waited in trepidation for the eel to strike. This was the moment when it was necessary to whip the rod, including eel, from the water or otherwise the eel would entwine himself inside the hole and might well be lost.

One of the great fishing experts was my neighbour ‘Bucksey Donoghue’. His knowledge of the habitats of fish far excelled that of us poor amateurs. We envied his bag full of fish on his way home and on occasions he would throw us the odd spratt with a look of disdain which told us something about our capabilities as fishermen (or children).

Post Fishing Days

“Autumn and Steam Engines”

The end of the fishing and swimming season heralded the arrival of Autumn and return to school. We attended the last few threshings with local farmers in the evenings or the weekends wherever they were working. A sign that the ‘happy’ season of holidays, etc., was over was the arrival of the steam traction engines to be parked for the winter in Mary Dooley’s yard.

We cultivated the friendship of Mary’s nephew so that we could watch the engine drivers at closer range negotiating the narrow gateway into the parking yard. Considerable difficulty was encountered in straightening up the engines in such confined areas, so that it was necessary to use huge jacks to push the rear wheels to align the engine for entry through the narrow gateway. In later years at steam engine rallies in Stradbally the smell of smoke, steam and oil, brought back those halcyon days of youth.

When I thought that one day perhaps (while dreaming and watching the engines in Mary Dooley’s yard) I would be able to drive on of these monsters it never struck me that such an ambition would never be achieved.

However, when all the engines were safely parked Mary would throw a party for all those who worked with the engines. Barrels of porter were opened upstairs but only adults or engine drivers were given this facility.

Youngsters like myself who kept the fires replenished with turf received lemonade in lieu of compensation. However, my two pals having misbehaved during the day were not allowed into the party and they took grave exception to this state of affairs and showed their dissatisfaction that night by kicking the door and hiding behind the shrubbery in front of the house. They were not discovered as the night had become very dark. In the middle of the proceedings or jollifications, since I had taken too much lemonade I urgently required to relieve myself but was fearful of going out to the backyard where the outdoor toilet was located. So, I decided that discretion being the better part of valour, I would use the shrubbery at the front of the house. It so happened that since my pals had again kicked the door they thought the woman of the house was trying to catch them and they jumped into the shrubbery, where, to their great dismay, I sprayed them both with the contents of over-loaded bladders.


Going to school for the first time was not exactly the 'happiest time of my life'. I was introduced into the educational requirements of the time under the sharp, incisive eye and cane bearing hand of a lady school teacher.

Being dull of comprehension (stupid in other words) I instinctively knew from our first meeting that confrontation was going to be the order of the day. As a result I usually came home with proof marks on my hands and bottom. Seeking permission to go to the toilet was not always forthcoming since it was the thinking of the time that recalcitrant students might make a dash for home. Thus I found myself on one occasion, while on the top steps of the rostrum unable to make my predicament known to the teacher, who seemed to look everywhere but in my direction, with the result, as every schoolboy knows, the delay led to a lake of embarrassment forming at the bottom of the rostrum. As the school was soon to be allowed home I tried to appear as a face in the crowd but was jerked back into reality by the scruff of the neck and asked to explain why a lake of water should form on the floor on such a fine summer’ day. Since no explanation was forthcoming I received quite a few short sharp skelps on the bottom of my wet trousers, leaving me bawling my head off on the way home.

School days in summer seemed to be longer and warmer in those days. It was not unusual for us to doze off over our boards and chalk. This happened to me once but I awoke in time to see the teacher bearing down on me but she altered course accordingly and went for pal Jack who was bouncing "zzzz's" off his board without coming to. Catching him by the scruff of the neck, his nose came into contact with the desk causing blood to be shed for us all, or me anyway, because I got a lot of it over my new jersey and at the same time he emitted a roar sufficient to waken the whole neighbourhood.

“Singing Jimmy Pender”

Graig produced singers of a very high standard at school, and their choir of later years proved this to be true. The school excelled at most of the Feiseanna held annually and in a lot of the choral competitions came first or received very high ratings. However, since not all of us achieved distinction in this field we were termed ‘crows’ and I was one by name and nature.

A close neighbour of mine was a competitor in ‘off key’ method of singing. His name was Jimmy Pender and he attended every mission and religious service that ever took place in the neighbourhood. He often amazed congregations by his ability to reach heights not normally associated with Tonic Solfa. When missions were concluded he liked to imitate what took place during these services and while his father was at work he would invite his pals in to celebrate ‘Mass’. He acquired his ‘vestments’ by using the daily paper with a hole suitably cut for his head similar to the chasuble used by the priest and the remainder of the paper covered the homemade altar which was part of a bedroom table. A candle on either side of the table and an egg cup for a chalice completed his ‘equipment’. He made the lads kneel down and chanted his mumbo jumbo latin and got the same ‘responses’ from his ‘congregation’. But while about to give them his ‘blessing’ he turned around and found his ‘servers’ sniggering behind his back whereupon he grabbed an axe from beside the fireplace at which moment the ‘congregation’ fled from the house in all directions.

Jimmy was nothing if not a faithful and obliging son to his father. When his father was on the ‘drink’ his patience was above and beyond the ‘call of duty’, and following a drinking session in the local pub Jimmy would take his father’s cycle in one hand and with the other arm direct his father towards his home. Often there was a collapse in the centre of the road but Jimmy, having pulled himself and his father to upright position, he was found never to have issued a word of chastisement to his father.

They have both passed to their eternal rewards trusting that we do not forget them in our prayers. Go ndeanaid Dia Trocaire ortha

“Other Characters of Sleaty Street”

The greater part of upper Sleaty Street has long since disappeared due mainly to the new estates built on O’Dwyer’s field and other pieces of land close by. There were two small streets adjoining Sleaty Street, “viz.” Hill Street and Mill Street. They all contained little single storied houses and some unusual characters lived there. These houses were gradually falling into disrepair and the ones nearest Mill Street were in ruins, and it was here that a man called ‘Go’ Brien lived. He was not married and it was thought that he had served in the British army during the Boer and First World War.

It was apparent that he had served a long time abroad since he had acquired the touch of an English accent. The ruins of a house adjoined his and, of course, it was a place that young adults would gather on winter nights and light bonfires to sing songs and generally annoy this lonely old man. He did not suffer children gladly and on several occasions had run the lads from the gable end of the house. Some of the culprits decided one winter’s night to further add to the unfortunate man’s misery by running by the door of the house which all would kick and hide in the shadows across the way in a gateway, while the poor man threatened the dark empty space at the rear of the house armed with a bucket of water and shouting ‘come out of the cornah or I’ll f*** a can of water on you’.

A short distance almost opposite what was once called O’Dwyer’s Hill lived the Timmons brothers, one of whom was called ‘Micky the Rabbit’. Both were great rabbit hunters and kept Irish terriers for this purpose. Prior to the introduction of Myxomatosis into the country the rabbit was a great source of food for the average poor person and more so during the Emergency period. Together with vegetables which they sowed themselves these people lived on a very healthy food source

Part 4 of Austin Crowe article.

“The Emergency Period”

With the outbreak of war in September 1939 most countries started planning to counteract invasion by the belligerent forces. Accordingly there was a call up of soldiers who were on the Reserve and organizations were set up to assist in local defence. Some of these organisations were called ARP (to assist police duties) and fire and rescue in the event of bombing; LSF, or Local Security Force, organised for local defence in the event of attack by belligerants. Eventually, in 1943, ARP became a purely Anti Air Raid

Precauation for the purpose again of fire and rescue. L.S.F. became a force to assist in police duties and the L.D.F. became the military force for local defence under the military authorities.

Graigecullen had its own company of the LDF and commenced military training almost straight away since there were quite a number of retired NCOs and soldiers in the area. Sgt. Major Dinny was recalled off the reserve and returned to a reformed reserve battalion on the Curragh. From our street alone almost ten men joined the army to serve the state. Sometime in July 1943 the closest we came to receiving a taste of the war was when a Wellington bomber of the R.A.F. passed over the town in the early morning and crashed in Colhenry not far from Ballickmoyler. No one was killed or injured since the crew who were all Polish, parachuted over Wexford and were interned on the Curragh for the duration of the war. Apparently five of the crew were trainee pilots and the plane ran out of fuel over the Atlantic and just made it back to the coast of Ireland. L.D.F. from Graiguecullen did guard duty surrounding the plane which was found to have scattered in small pieces over a large area. The military from the Curragh secured any weapons and/or ammunition from the area of the crash.

Sleaty Street

“Cholera Sheds (Pump)”

In 1870 two streets, High Street and Mill Street, adjoined Sleaty Street almost at the County boundary between Carlow and Laois. Both streets have long since disappeared, mainly due to a new estate built on O’Dwyer’s field. Just beyond High Street, almost on the county boundary, there is a pump, west of which marked the site of the Cholera Sheds. It is still called the Sheds pump and acquired its name from the fact that in 1870 an outbreak of cholera took place, and those gravely ill were brought here in a vain attempt to cure them but unfortunately most of the sick died here.

According to local tradition the dead were brought across the river via Connacht Lane and were buried in the lower area of the ‘Graves’ in a mass paupers grave.

About this time also, field kitchens were set up in the old Barrow Navigation Company Stores so that soup and ‘yellow meal’ or (as the natives called it at the time ‘An Cuid Rua’) would be distributed to those in great poverty and who were too proud to go into the Poorhouse otherwise known as the Workhouse. The fear of the poorhouse was deeply ingrained in the peoples’ memory since the famine periods of 1846-47-48. However, in the 1870s a system of outdoor relief was available which, together with soup kitchens, cut down on the numbers being maintained in Workhouses, though I believe the amount given to families was barely enough to keep body and soul together.

People became nervous at the start of the Emergency when they cast their minds back to the famine period. However, as it turned out, there was no similarity. Rationing of tea and sugar was officially carried out though sugar could be manufactured locally it was distributed over the whole country. Tea, due to the long distance over which it had to be transported from India and other eastern ountries, was the most severely rationed.

Despite the above items being rationed there was no shortage of meat, bread, butter, milk, etc.

White bread went off the Irish market due mainly to the unavailability of imported wheat. To offset the bread situation we had to mill our own wheat which included all its own natural ingredients. The people did not take kindly to the introduction of brown bread into the diet, little realising how much more beneficial to their health this form of food was bound to have, when all the worthwhile ingredients were included.

Tea rationing was felt more severely by the elderly, single and unemployed. However, the availability of other forms of food offset the loss of tea.

Fuel oil, petrol, etc., curbed the use of private cars and only those such as farmers, priests, doctors and Garda could obtain ration cards to carry out their duties. Towards the end of the Emergency tubes and tyres for cycles became scarce so that the average man had to get used to walking long distances. The rationing here could not in any way be compared to that on the Continent of Europe or in England for that matter. No one here died of hunger.

Unemployment was at a high level even from the thirties and the increase in British munitions manufacturing caused considerable emigration from this country. While there was a heavy increase in tillage this did not absorb the main labour force and prior to the war, in order to counteract the British Economic ‘War’, the system of free beef was introduced for those on the dole or unemployed. On one occasion a son of the family was heard to say near dinner time ‘throw up the voucher Mother’, meaning put the free beef on the table!

“Air Displays in the ‘30s”

Some of the happiest periods of my life in Graiguecullen were during the thirties. We never had money, my father was on seasonal work and everything was stretched as far as possible. There was no radio, no TV, no entertainment other than for the boys; it was fishing, hunting rabbits, swimming, etc., games, etc. We invented our own pastimes. While our parents must have worried, we were as happy as the days were long.

Excitement for us youngsters was brought to fever pitch when Sir Alan Cobham brought his flying circus to Carlow in 1933 and ‘34. There were about thirty or forty planes in the circus, some of which were used in the First World War, i.e. Vickers Vimy, a twin-engined bomber and a few fighter planes, i.e., Bristol Bulldog fighter which looped and rolled around the sky, sending shivers of excitement through us youngsters. The rest of the planes were mainly trainers which brought people around on joy rides. When the whole air armada flew over Graiguecullen (I thought they went nowhere else) I stood looking up, mesmerised both by the noise and the variety of planes. An old neighbour of ours ran into her house shouting ‘get in outa that, we’re going to be bumbed’.


The ‘20s and ‘30s were the vintage years of airship travel. However, only once did I see an airship inland but unfortunately it did not fly over Carlow. I am convinced that it was the Zeppelin (LZ127) since in 1931 she flew around Britain and Ireland. I was with my pals at a football match in Jimmy Dunne’s field on the Killeshin Road. The field was located where a good view could be had of the Blackstairs Mountains and it was from here that I had seen an airship over these mountains, and in later years having done some research into the matter I found that the Graf Zeppelin did cross Ireland about this time.

“Cinema or Going to the Pitchers”

It was late into the ‘30s before anyone from my family were allowed to go to the ‘pitchers’ in Slater’s Cinema. It usually took over a year before one could go, having saved a halfpenny towards the required 4d and taking part in the ‘fourpenny crush’ hoping that one’s ribs would withstand the pressure of the enthusiastic filmgoers. About 1938 this cinema was burned down and I think I was at one of the last films shown there called ‘The Great Barrier’. Carlow was without a cinema for about two years, until the Ritz Cinema was built.


The area in which we lived was subject to flooding and our house had been condemned, apparently for over 50 years. The standard of housing was very poor and it followed that the standard of hygiene and sanitation was also of a very low level. The house in which we lived was recorded in the electoral list of 1841.

There was no sewerage system and no running water other than that which had to be drawn from a public fountain located halfway down the street. Lack of these facilities were almost certainly the cause of a number of epidemics stretching back to the famine periods of the 1840s. In 1932 a general outbreak of diphtheria took place and six members of my family alone were hospitalised with this fever. There were quite a number of deaths as a result of the fever not being diagnosed in time. I knew of no house in our street that had any form of central heating and as a result the only heating was to be found in the kitchen and it was here if one could not afford a stove that all cooking was done.

During the very deep freeze of 1932 or ‘33 when I had, for the first and last time, seen the River Barrow frozen over, our houses were similar to freeze boxes since insulation or double glazing was unheard of. The thatched houses were much warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The straw in the roof was about 18 inches thick and was found to be a great insulating agent. The mud walls were easily 1” feet thick with small windows, all of which contributed to heat retention. Most of the houses in our street had garden plots and these supplied the families with fresh vegetables for about six months of the year. I have never seen anything since to approach the wholesomeness of the vegetables grown in these gardens.


The fuel most commonly used in the area was that delivered by barge to Carlow on the River Barrow, and it mainly consisted of coal, turf and wood.

The barges, though having converted to diesel a number of years pre-war, had to return to horse power due to the lack of diesel fuel during the Emergency. Great credit must go to Messrs. Thompson & Co., who designed, made and launched barges from Carlow Quay in order to facilitate transport on the canals from Dublin. Here, once again, we saw the old stores of the Barrow Navigation being used for the stabling of the horses, which lasted until the end of the emergency. The galvanised shed portion of these building was used by James Doyle of Athy for stockpiling of turf supplies which came from the Bog of Allen in Co. Kildare. The old graving docks were used once again for the repair and caulking of the barges. The other user of barges was Messrs. Arthur Guinness and Co., and they had their depot opposite the old Barrow Navigation Stores near Cox’s Lane. They were the last to use Clydesdale horses and drays which were eventually replaced by the use of the heavy Leyland lorries.

Messrs. Corcoran & Co. were almost the first company to be mechanised in this way. We always timed our day’s programme by one of these lorries, which was driven by Mr. Tom Hayden who lived some few houses away from us.

Apparently he went to the company stores about 6.30 a.m. and loaded up with the various orders of spirits, beers and minerals to be delivered around town and country almost every day of the week. When he passed our house at 8.45 a.m. we all shouted ‘Governey’s lorry, time for school’ and, of course, we all groaned together at the thought of the ‘days disaster’ ahead of us at school.

I should have stated that when Tom Hayden loaded up his lorry at 6.30 a.m. he went home for his breakfast at 8.00 a.m. Hence the reason for passing our house at 8.45, when on his way to make his delivery. His Leyland truck I can well remember firstly the noise of the heavy engine could be heard quite some distance away. Then his Klaxon hooter, the cab like that of a steam engine reversed. The solid tyred wheels with what appeared to be sweeping brushes balanced as each hub cap for the purpose of keeping the wheels clean. I imagine, or am of the opinion, that this lorry was painted green with red stripes while the fascia board included the company name in bold green and red titling with gold to make it stand out.

“Famous Footballers of our Street in the ‘30s”

There is little that I can add regarding the achievements of the four most famous footballers of Sleaty that has not already been written about them.

Suffice to say that they were great friends of ours and that they were also great neighbours. Those whom I knew personally were John McDarby, Rexie McDonald, Tim O’Brien and Tommy Murphy.

John McDarby was the steam roller of the Graigue and Leix teams. My abiding memory of John was when he decided to start an old motor cycle by running up and down the street and jumping on it. This he did a few times and one time on his way back the engine came to life when he found he was jumping over buckets of water on the road where two ‘oul wans’ left the buckets in the middle of the road while swapping the scandal of the neighbourhood.

Rexie McDonald was every inch a gentleman and was the calm influence on a team, and was never known to have lost his cool even when the opposition was overwhelming. He never failed to pass a complimentary remark at any time of the day, and was always ready to pass on his expertise to his younger football protégé. He was one of nature’s gentlemen and a very kindly neighbour.

Tim O’Brien, tall and athletic looking, was known to have stopped points going over the bar. He was the main defender of the goal for both the Graiguecullen and Laois teams. He was a man for whom everyone had great respect and a very kindly neighbour.

Tommy Murphy, neighbour and friend about whom so much has been written regarding his football exploits that I would not dare to add one cubit. He was a football prodigy while yet at school. One of my brothers was at school with him in Graiguecullen and it was customary with us during summer holidays to spend our days in the Grove at Knockbeg, playing cowboys and Indians. Both his family and ours often joined in the sing-songs around a camp fire in the hollow of the Grove on many a fine summer’s evening where we had built a hut from branches of the trees surrounding the Grove.

Swimming and boating at the weir in Knockbeg will long be remembered when most other things are forgotten. My outstanding memory of Tommy was when he rowed an old college punt around in a circle above the weir singing to his heart’s content “Rose Marie I Love You” and then suddenly, the war came upon us in 1939 and growing up just as fast we all went our separate ways.

The end.

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