The Colour of Life – Tommy and the Fish and The Power of Prayer by Geoff Cronin

Tommy And The Fish 1960

Tommy was a clerk in the office of a large Dublin company and every day he came to work on the Harcourt Street line and returned home by the 5.15 p.m. train on the same line. He lived only a few hundred yards from the Milltown Station and the train passed by the end of his back garden.

On Fridays, it was his custom to call to a fishmonger’s in Chatham Street on his way to Harcourt Street Station. There he would collect his standing order of two fillets of plaice, and then proceed to the train. Everything was timed to a nicety, and Tommy would stroll into the station and take his seat by the window as the train pulled out.

Tommy would then sit back and relax, reading his evening paper, and as the train passed the end of his garden, he would casually open the window and throw out the parcel of fish which would land in the centre of his lawn. His wife would then emerge, collect the parcel, retire inside and put the fish on the grill to cook. Meanwhile, Tommy would proceed in leisurely fashion, paper under his arm, and arrive home just as his wife was serving up his tea – one lightly grilled fillet of plaice. Timing really is everything!!

The Power Of Prayer 1964

The Bull Ring in Wexford was bounded on one side by the Insurance office and, next door to it, was the Pub, Grocery and Undertakers all under the same roof and proprietorship. This was a source of great interest to tourists and, indeed, a subject of many photographs taken by the said tourists.

At about eleven o’clock in the day the sun would shine (when it shone) up the main street from the south and it would rest on the steps of the Insurance office for half an hour or more in the summer, making it and ideal resting place for some of the locals who didn’t mind the fact that the clients of the Insurance Company had to, more or less, climb over them to gain entry to that office.

Jack was one of those locals. He was small, flat-capped and seventy three years of age. He had the old age pension and lived alone in a small terrace house on the hill overlooking the town. He was not a particularly religious man but, after his wife died, he took the habit of walking down to ten o’clock mass in Rowe Street chapel to “say a few prayers for her” and to pass an hour. After mass he would walk down to the main street where he invariably met some of his pals for a quick chat while making his way towards the Bull Ring. Once arrived there he would take his seat on the steps of the Insurance office and have a leisurely smoke, passing the time of day with all and sundry.

Come midday, the Angelus would ring out and he would remove his cap, say the Angelus prayers while checking in his pocket for the price of a small bottle of stout. Having satisfied himself regarding the state of his meagre finances, he would don his cap and stroll next door. The small bottle would last half an hour, stretched by gossip with the landlord about the day’s funeral or some other such cheerful subject. At 12.30 Jack would visit the toilet and leave, on his way to his daughter’s home for his dinner.

Such was his daily programme. The pension was small in the 1950s and could only be eked out over the week by exercising the most careful and stringent management particularly when it came to the single bottle of stout which he enjoyed so much. No way could he rise to the second bottle or even dream of “standing one” to a pal. Even so, he accepted his lot and counted his blessings.

One particular Thursday morning in June, Jack arrived as usual about eleven o’clock and strolled about the Bullring in thoughtful mood before taking his seat on the steps of the Insurance office. Tomorrow was pension day and today he was flat broke. A neighbour’s grandson, who had made his first communion that morning, had been “presented” to him on his way from mass and his last shilling had gone to the expectant child. He did have three cigarettes left, however, and he smoked half of one of these now. Topping it carefully, he blew gently through it to keep it sweet for a relight later on and slipped it into the top pocket of his coat.

Just then the Angelus rang out. Jack remaining seated on the step, removed his cap, blessed himself, holding the cap in front of him in his joined hands he bowed his head and “said” the Angelus. As he flowed into the final prayer, a pair of tourists rounded the corner beside him and, as they passed by, two shiny half crowns landed in his cap!
Jack was very late for his dinner that day!

Description of a poor salesman
“He couldn’t sell ice-cream in Hell!”

©GeoffCronin 2005

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – 2017

There were few jobs that Geoff could not turn his hands to, and over the years he mastered an impressive number of professional undertakings. Master baker and confectioner, mobile cinema operator, salesman, band leader, senior executive and master wood turner, storyteller and writer.

Geoff Cronin published his first book in 2005 at age 82. The Colour of Life is a collection of stories of life in Waterford during his childhood and early adulthood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. This was followed by two further books that related tales of further adventures in Waterford and Dublin.

Thank you for dropping in today and you can read the previous chapters of The Colour of Life in this directory:



26 thoughts on “The Colour of Life – Tommy and the Fish and The Power of Prayer by Geoff Cronin

  1. Pingback: The Colour of Life – Tommy and the Fish and The Power of Prayer by Geoff Cronin | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Stevie Wonder, Justice ‘East End’ Style, Skin and Bones | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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