Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 46)
Memories of Grange and People
This week's book article was written by Pat Clancy, New Line, Lower Grange. Pat compiled his article from the written memoirs of his uncle, John G Clancy (1914-1994).
At the outset of his article, Pat wrote as follows:
In 1982, my uncle, John G (Jack) Clancy, who resided at Doneraile, County Cork, for many years, penned memories of his youth spent in Grange. He was affectionately
known to the Clancy family and others, as Jack. Jack died on 6th January 1994 – aged 80 years. He spent fourteen years of his working life in the membership of An Garda Síochána up to his resignation in 1949. He served at several Garda Stations in the Waterford/Kilkenny Division. The following is, for the most part, taken from his written memoir.
John G (Jack) of Doneraile, brother to Egan of Lower Grange, Jim of Limerick and Bridie (Mrs Bill Madden, Upper Grange), was the oldest son of Paddy Clancy, the first Labour TD elected to Dáil Éireann to represent County Limerick following the Irish Civil War. Paddy was a brother of George (Seoirse) Clancy, Gaelic scholar, who, while serving as Mayor of Limerick, was murdered by forces of the British crown in 1921.
The following are extracts from Pat's article, based on Jack's memoirs:
Jack recalled that his uncle, Egan Clancy (1889-1933), played on the neighbouring parish of Fedamore hurling teams up to his departure to the USA in 1915. He also represented his county, Limerick. Jack remembered his own hurling days with Fedamore, prior to leaving his native village for Dublin in 1934. His uncle, Egan Clancy, continued to play the game of hurling in the USA, winning many honours and medals. He also wrote for The Boston Irish News. Early in 1933, he became paralysed following the removal of a stomach tumour. He attributed this to an injury sustained during a hurling game between Limerick and Cork at The Mardyke (Cork), a year before his departure to the USA. He died on March 28th, 1933.
It was said, according to Jack, that his Uncle Egan was the hurler who introduced the ‘solo run’, with the ball on the hurley, long before the days of Christy Ring. Jack mentioned Mick Mackey (Ahane) as well, a famous Limerick hurler. Understandably, while acknowledging the greatness of both Ring and Mackey, he lauded his fellow county man in particular.
Jack mentioned that the Behan family, renowned for song, music and dance, were no longer to be found in the locality. Jack remembered Maurice Behan, Postman, who lived close to where he (Jack) was born and reared. One day, Maurice died suddenly after returning home from his post-round in the locality. Maurice was expert at playing the wooden flute – people travelled many miles to hear him. When Jack knew Maurice, he had fourteen or fifteen musical instruments of different notations, and he was an expert in each one. Maurice would be found seated on a large stone outside the entrance to his home on most days from two o’clock in the afternoon until supper time, giving a un-dreamed-of musical exhibition. The Behan family were musical and a sister of Maurice was his equal on the melodeon.
In the 1920s and 1930s, according to Jack, long before Ceol Toras came into being, such Irish music was played in and around Grange, Lough Gur, Cahercorney and Ballybricken localities. Music sessions were regularly held at different houses in the parish and adjoining parishes, at which the finest Irish set dancers and musicians were in attendance. The house Cheilidhe went on until dawn. Jack recalled such homes, including those of Mrs Elizabeth Ryan, Old Road; Jack Fehily, Ballingoola Road and John Aherne on the New Line. West of the parish, Jack Mulqueen’s home was visited periodically to ascertain how the dance was progressing.
Jack had memories of the handball alley, “one of the finest to be found anywhere”, located close to what were the ruins of the former Clancy workshop. The alley was located within a short distance of Camogue River or “Hurl River, as it was usually described”. Said Jack: I played in many a tournament [handball] in the same alley, whose banks and walls were packed to capacity, free of charge, on Sundays, with people from adjoining parishes enjoying the skills of the players, who were heart and soul, involved in the game. Jack went on to recall his last tournament in 1933 when he partnered his uncle, also Jack. They played against the partnership of Johnny Flavin and Bill Madden (“now my brother-in-law”) in the tournament final. The Clancy duo lost the final, "through my fault, as I tried to butt the ball, which instead, hit the alley floor first, thus leaving us the runners up". The term “butt” in the game of handball is applied to the outcome achieved when a player hits the ball against the alley wall at a point just above the floor, and the ball rolls out along the floor of the alley, thus prohibiting an opponent from returning it.
As recalled by Jack, March to September was the “open coursing” season. Open coursing involved a hare, in its own environment, a wide-open space, being pursued by a greyhound(s). During this time of year, it was the Sunday after-dinner routine for younger people to assemble with their elders and to then set out for the ‘Corcass’ lands of Ballycullane, facing the hill of Fedamore, in pursuit of hares. Jack named Mike Connolly, (owner of the farm at the time of the coursing, which, in 1982, at the time of Jack’s writing was owned by Willie Carmody), Jack O’Connell of Grange Hill and Jack O’Donovan of Grange Village, as being principals involved in organising the hare pursuits.
Next week (week 47) we will suggest another book article for reading.
Kind Regards to All.
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