There was a time when everyone knew
everyone else here. You were Dan Brennan’s son, or Jim Nolan’s
daughter or Brownie’s young lad or Little Nipper, and if you got
into a verbal conflict you were told to go home to your auld fella,
or to hide behind your mammy’s skirts. And when a young man or woman
came home from England or America they stood out because of the
different way they dressed and spoke, and the way they carried
Some had found a whole new way of life
and it came through in everything about them. They had been where
the money was big, where the neon lights lit up the streets, and
people went somewhere different every night of the week.
And when fellows came home in uniform —
as I remember the Harte's from St. Fiacc’s Terrace — well, it was
like the pictures come to life. If I closed my eyes I could hear the
Halls of Montezuma played by a brass band. And there were Irish
officers too — Captain Ned Price and Sgt. Major Denis Moran,
resplendent in his leggings, shoulder-strap and cane.
To some, Graigue was all football in
those days. But best of the football years had passed before I came
along —~ one of a runner family which only dated back to my
grandfather coming to the Post Office. What I inherited in the
football line were legends, or rather legendary stories of great
footballers who still stood at the club corner or walked about
the village streets in the evenings.
There was Joe Hennessy’s grandfather,
Barnie, in whose house there were pictures of former Graigue teams
on the walls — men with moustaches and of military bearing, wearing
dark hooped jerseys and wearing ordinary boots. Later teams hung on
the walls of McDarby's in Maryborough Street where I bought my first
blue and white hat to go off and shout for Laois. In those pictures
also was Tommy Murphy, the man with a casual way of walking and
running and to whom playing football was as natural as breathing.
Straight shouldered Cutchie Haughney who went to America about that
time; the tall Cowleys and the Busyman Haughney, alongside the good
looking Desie Connolly who always had a kneed bandaged, wounded, no
doubt in some previous sporting encounter.
One or two of these former stars came
along to give a few tips to the schoolboy team of around 48/49 and
breathed enough life and heart into us to beat the CBS in Carlow by
twenty-two points and the brawny Tullow lads by about eight. I
remember spending several evenings watching Tom Moran in Fennell’s
field where he showed me how to send frees over from what we then
thought were impossible angles.
We went on to beat Crumlin on the same
field and after that I started trickin’ around at playing soccer and
one of the club organisers said at a public meeting that I was a
disgrace to the village. That shows how serious football was then!
Near Fennell’s field was Jack Kelly’s
house, which frequently smelled of the embrocation he rubbed on the
hefty seniors. Who was the trainer who used to come down from the
Curragh around that time and put the lads through leap-frog
exercises and canters around the field, and who told them about the
wonders of whisked eggs mixed with a small drop of sherry?
We would sit on the sticks outside
O’Neill’s old houses in Henry Street and talk about the football
stories we had heard or the games that were coming up, and Breezer
Hogan or Tommy Proctor would turn up with a bouncy sock-ball and
we’d start a game under the street lamp. Only we had to be careful
of Ned Hogan’s windows because he was a decent old man who didn’t
like too much noise and a few years previously he had made
“steam-rollers” for us out of cocoa tins and pieces of twine.
Just around the corner from there in
Church Street, which was always called “The Burrow,” there were
enormous slides down the centre of the road when the frost came. At
times they were so dangerous that the women would come out of their
houses and sprinkle salt on them so that some of us wouldn’t break
Christmas, snow and slides are all tied
up in my mind with that corner and although I didn’t see it happen,
I think it must have been at that time of year that a horse ran away
with a milk-cart. down the Barrow, and hitting the slide, rapped the
cart around my grandfather’s railings at the top of ‘98 Street.
There were two great “gangs” in Graigue
around that time- one of them led by ‘Sisty’ Lawlor who used to sing
and look like the young Jack Doyle. He nearly had his eye taken out
once in a slug gun battle, and the last time I saw him he could
still bring a tear from the exiles with a throbbing “Danny Boy”.
The other gang were from The Numbers,
which always boasted, in the days when it really meant something,
that it was the only part of Graigue really in Laois. It was there
that I got the first two books I ever read from Jim Moore’s wife,
who was a friend of my mother’s family; she lived in the first or
second of the Numbers houses opposite the school. And I read a lot
of the first book in Moore’s sheltered brick-walled garden - Captain
Marryats “Midshipman Easy.” The other was “The Coral Island.”
There was a chap lived up that street too
called Billy Moore who was so fond of reading that he used to spend
a fair bit of his lunch-time reading the newspapers wrapped round
his lunch in the school shed and the teacher Sean O’Leary said he
was one of the cleverest chaps ever to come out of Graigue - and he
was no bookworm either.
Michael Corcoran, who lived near Moore’s,
was the first lad I can remember who had a football made from a
pig’s bladder and to play Gaelic football with that, made handling a
rugby ball (Old Gaels will shudder at the very mention) seem child’s
There were some families on and off the
Numbers that, compared to most of us, lived a slightly different
sort of existence in those days - the O’Hanlon's, the Delaney's and
the Flynn's. In behind the high walls and tall colourful trees
bordered on two sides by fruit trees and flowers that were carefully
looked after by the warm-hearted and diminutive Mrs. O’Hanlon whose
lovely Cork accent was music to the ears and who made the most
delicious tarts from apples and gooseberries.
The sound of laughter, and the sound of
the crows that gathered in the Poor Clare trees after lunchtime,
ready to swoop down and pick up the crusts of bread in the
school-yard, the sound of the ever-present rumbling weir, all part
of the treasure of memories many of us still carry with us.
Memories of when everyone knew everyone
else there. And there were good times then as well as bad. I think
most of the times were good. The memories tell it.
I would like to add to this list of
people who lived in Graiguecullen during this period of the 1960's
John Hogan son of Ned Hogan was born in
1894 in Graiguecullen, and died 30 June 1961 at St Fiacc's Terrace,
Graiguecullen. He was married to Mary Moran who was the daughter of
Denis Moran of Graiguecullen. Mary Moran was born in 1892 in Sleaty
Street, Graiguecullen, and died 8 January 1970 at St Fiacc's
Most of their son's and daughters went to
England. Some stayed and some returned. A number of them worked at
one time in Corcoran's Factory, Carlow.
Willie Hogan played football and Dinny
Hogan played in the Killeshin Pipe Band. (son's of John Hogan).
Across the street there was another
branch of this family, albeit distance cousins, they were the
Lawlor's who also featured well in local football and there are
still descendents of the Lawlor family living in St Fiacc's Terrace
'The Parish of KILLESHIN, Graiguecullen'. by
Transcribed by Michael Brennan c2006.
- The information
contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing
with others researching their ancestors in County Laois.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects,