Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Tan: A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge by David Lawlor


A warm welcome to David Lawlor and his book Tan: A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge which is the first book in the Liam Mannion Story.

About Tan

‘Peelers have a knack for hitting you where it hurts; broken nose, bruised ribs, a few loosened teeth…no more than a rapist deserved, Sergeant Coveney and District Inspector Webber had said. Proper order, too – except the lad was no rapist, and Webber knew it.’

It’s 1914 and Liam Mannion is forced into exile for a crime he didn’t commit. He flees Balbriggan, the only home he has ever known and travels to England, where he enlists and endures the torment of trench warfare in France. Five years later he’s back in England, a changed man, living in the shadow of his battlefield memories. Liam finds work in a Manchester cotton mill but prejudice and illness soon see him destitute. Starving and desperate, he enlists in a new military force heading to Ireland – the Black and Tans – and is posted to the very town he fled as a youth.

While he has been away Liam’s childhood friends have joined the republican cause, while his brother has allied himself to the Crown forces. Liam must wrestle with his own conflicted feelings about duty to the ruthless Tans and loyalty to his friends. The potent combination of ambition, patriotism and betrayal collide, forcing him to act as he comes face to face with the man who spread lies about him all those years before.

One of the excellent reviews for Tan

An author faces a monumental task when writing historical fiction. If one historical fact is wrong or an anachronism appears, the reader is likely to put aside the book in favor of one that achieves historical accuracy tempered with believable dialogue, heightened tension, and sympathetic, yet flawed, heroes.

If you are a reader of historical fiction who requires accuracy, suspense, and flawed, yet heroic main characters, then I suggest you read Tan – A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge by David Lawlor.

Set in England and then Ireland in the year after the end of World War I, Tan explores war from a closer view immediately following Liam Mannion’s release from the English Army in 1919. Here’s a guy forced to leave Ireland at a young age because of an act he witnessed after a night of drinking at a friend’s wedding. It’s here where the conflict of the story begins when the evil Webber blames and accuses the young Liam of an indecent act against a virtuous married woman. Webber’s fiction that forces Liam into exile begins a whole series of events that mark Liam for life.

Liam heads to England in 1914 and ends up in the English army fighting in France during the majority of World War I.

When Liam eventually heads back to England after the horrid and putrid rot of dead bodies that made up his memory of the war, he ends up in an insufferable situation which leads him to homelessness, and then worse, as an officer of the crown as a member of the powerful and often repressive Black and Tan. Liam turns a blind eye to the atrocious behavior of his English comrades, only until it becomes evident that his loyalty to the Black and Tan extracts too high of a rent for clean clothes and warm bowl of soup.

Lawlor captures the uncertainty of the times through the examination of Liam’s uncertain future as he’s thrust into situations beyond his control. Precise and graphic descriptions of life in England and Ireland post-World War I show that despite the end of a tragic war on the mainland of Europe, Ireland faced an even greater war at home with the invasion and intrusion of the Tans.

I fell in love with Lawlor’s descriptions of the setting in Tan as I lost myself in the world of the Irish fighting for their lives and their homeland. Here’s an example of Lawlor’s powerful descriptive talent:

“They leaned against the viaduct’s promenade rail, looking out on their hometown, watching the slow huff of a steam engine as it trundled into the station, the smell of the sea mingling with the coke from Cumisky’s coal yard beneath them.”

It’s filled with contrast and detail that employ the senses to show the reader that the situation and the setting are both beautiful and polluted.

Tan is both tender and violent as the reader is drawn into the abyss of angry revenge and the love and loyalty of friends and family. It also shows that being born into a family does not guarantee such loyalty. The character of the individual breeds the kind of loyalty that would take a bullet and shoot a bullet to protect and exact revenge.

I highly recommend Tan if you like to lose yourself into another world in the past of one hundred years ago on the soil of Ireland, bloodied from wars and stained with tears.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Tan-Story-Betrayal-Revenge-Mannion-ebook/dp/B00BFD4JF8

Read more reviews on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tan-Story-Betrayal-Revenge-Mannion-ebook/dp/B00BFD4JF8/

Also by David Lawlor

Read all the reviews for the series: https://www.amazon.com/David-Lawlor/e/B00E3T1EWW

and Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Lawlor/e/B00E3T1EWW

Read more reviews and follow David Lawlor on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7059828.David_Lawlor

About David Lawlor

David Lawlor has been a journalist for over 20 years. He has written four historical fiction novels, Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors, set in the 1920s during the Irish War of Independence and following the character Liam Mannion.

David is also a book editor – copy and content editing.

He lives in Wicklow, Ireland, with his wife and four children.

Connect to David

Website/Blog: https://historywithatwist.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LawlorDavid

Thank you for dropping by today and I hope that you will explore David’s books and his blog. Thanks Sally

If you have time please visit the Cafe and Bookstore and browse the shelves. There are over 200 authors with about 600 books that you might enjoy.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

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Milestones along the Way – How I met Her by Geoff Cronin


Sadly my lovely mother-in-law Joan died at only 74 years old in 1994 and was sadly missed. She was a woman who loved crosswords, Rubik’s Cube and a patch of sunshine. She and Geoff had six terrific children and I am sure that she would love to have seen her great-grandchildren, some of whom remind me of her and her smile.

In the last of the stories from Geoff based on his three books, I thought it was appropriate to end with the tale of how he met Joan.

How I Met Her by Geoff Cronin

In the summer of 1944 I joined the boat club in Waterford. The headquarters of this club was situated on the Kilkenny side of the river Suir, opposite the Adelphi hotel. It was a wooden building and it was painted white and green and it housed several outriggers. These boats would be approximately 60 to 70 feet long and could be carried easily by eight men.

The club could be reached from Waterford by walking along the quay, across the bridge and down on the Kilkenny side of the river – which would have taken a considerable length of walking time. But, for convenience sake, a member of the club could stand on the Waterford side of the bridge and whistle or signal to the boat club who would send a punt across the river to ferry the member over to the club.

In those years, my brother Dick, who was an expert musician, ran a small dance band, consisting of himself on the accordion, Ken McKinnon on tenor sax and Peerie White (The Gunner) on drums. They played for small club dances around the town. Well, my brother secured a booking to play at Sunday night ‘Hops’ in the boat club and, being a member, I always supported those dances for the joint reason that my brother was in charge of the band, and I was a member of the club.

About this time, I had returned from working in a timber gang, where I developed a considerable amount of muscle, I was also in the boxing club where I did not meet with great success, being too short in stature for my weight. Nevertheless, I stripped out at eleven stone and felt somewhat invincible.

In those days, anyone who had a respectable job went to work in a collar and tie, long-sleeve shirt which usually boasted some kind of cuff-links, and I was no exception. So, on attending the boat-club dance one particular Sunday night, I took off my coat and rolled up my sleeves until the fold was well above the biceps. This allowed me to show off my muscles and at the same time display my doubtful dancing prowess. I was at that age when, as they say, ‘a young man’s fancy turns to love’ and I had my eye on Joan Flanagan.

Now this girl was probably the best looking girl in the in the city and I liked the way she walked with a very straight back, and when she looked at you her gaze was steady, and I was quite smitten.

However Joan was three years older than I was and I felt that she was beyond my reach. Imagine my surprise therefore when at this particular Sunday night dance she walked into the ballroom accompanied by a fellow who had been my junior at school and I felt a surge of anger the like of which I have not had felt since or before.

She was still taking her coat off when I walked up to her and asked her would she like to dance. This was very rude of me, really, but she agreed and we had a nice couple of rounds of the floor. During that time I was racking my brains to think how I might “anchor” the conversation.

Joan Flanagan, 1944

Again, on impulse, I said to her “by the way, do you do the Tango”? Now, to be honest, I hadn’t a clue how to do the Tango but I knew that she was interested in dancing because her cousin ran a dance studio and had a very large clientele.

Anyway, she said, “No I don’t do the Tango” but I wouldn’t mind learning.

Well, I said, “I’ve been taking lessons,” which was a downright lie, “and if you would like to come to the Atlantic, in Tramore, with me on, let’s say, on Thursday night of this week, and I can show you what I know and we could practice together.

So, she smiled deliberately at me and she said, “Well, yes, that would be nice.”

“OK,” I said. “I’ll see you on Thursday.”

Now, that was okay and to some extent it was a bit of a victory for me. But from that moment on her escort guarded her as if she was Fort Knox, and I realised that I hadn’t made any firm arrangement where to meet her, or how to get to Tramore, or whatever, and I was at pains to get back to speak to her again and I couldn’t because he kept hovering over her and blocking my entrance. Anyway, the dance came to a close and I was in a corner there, getting ready to put on my coat and I turned down the sleeves of my shirt and my cuff-links were dangling off the end of the shirt. And as I saw her getting ready to leave I went the length of the ballroom and I confronted her and I said to her, “Joan, listen, could you help me with something?”

“Yes,” she said. “What is it?”

And I said, “Joan, would you ever fix my cuff-links, I can’t get them right?”

So she smiled at me and began to fix my cuff-links.

And then I looked her straight in the face, and she looked back at me, and I felt myself sinking into those grey eyes with the feeling that I never had before. And I’m sure the angels felt a bang when I hit the ground, because I fell for her hook, line and sinker.

So, I arranged to meet her at the train station – there was a train to Tramore on a regular basis at that time – and we went to the Atlantic ballroom in Tramore together on the train, and back again and we had a most enjoyable evening. I arranged a further date with her and that continued on for four years and at the end of four years we were married.

In all we spent 50 years together, the happiest time of my life and in all that time we never had a cross word. So, there you are, that is the story of How I Met Her.

©GeoffCronin 2008

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – February 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 Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chapters of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/books-by-geoff-cronin/

 

Milestones along the Way – Bacon by Geoff Cronin


When I was a boy early in the 1920s the industry of the city of Waterford was dominated by the firm of Henry Denny & Sons Ltd., one of the largest bacon factories in the British Isles at the time, with branches in Cork Limerick and Waterford. The Pig trade was always a mainstay of industry in the city and this firm had been had been established round about 1800. In my geography book at school Denny’s was labelled as ‘one of the most important bacon factories in Europe.’ The export trade in Waterford was very lively indeed around that time, and hundreds of animals were exported live to Britain on a weekly basis while the factory at home employed about five hundred people.

One of the main elements in that contribution was the constant production of offal which supplied many of the shops and was a welcome supply of cheap meat to the natives. The offal consisted of pigs heads, which were sold whole or in halves, backbones kidneys and a variety of items which could be used for stewing and produced a handsome soup. And in addition to that the employees of the factory were able to purchase, for a nominal amount, any amount of the offal produced in the factory.

Much of this offal found its way into small shops known as hucksters, which were scattered throughout the city, and these hucksters specialised in selling cooked, hot, “crubeens” which had to be boiled for several hours to make them perfectly edible. These little shops stayed open very late at night, especially when the pubs closed, and a gentleman who had imbibed throughout the evening would be perhaps ravenous with hunger, and could purchase, for a few pence, a couple of crubeens ready cooked to take home and have for supper. This procedure was quite common and the city was noted for it.

The many different bones which could be stewed with dumplings formed a large part of the diet of the poorest people in the city.

These bones, incidentally, had specific names like chucks or puzzlers, etc., – the backbones were also known as ‘chicken on horseback’ or ‘pigs mud-guard’ – and were for sale in most of the bacon shops around the city.

Traditional demand in Ireland was for bacon rashers and boiling bacon and the old-fashioned renowned bacon- and-cabbage was a very popular dish at the time, and probably still is. The fact that crubeens had to be cooked slowly for several hours meant that a person who wished to produce cooked crubeens needed a fair amount of fuel. When the war came – or the emergency as it was called in Ireland – fuel became scarce, but that did not prevent the natives from cooking this delicacy. They cooked by means of what was called a sawdust cooker.

Here I have to give you some detail about what the sawdust cooker was, and how it was made. First of all you had to have a steel, or metal barrel. A two-inch hole had to be made at one end of the barrel and the other end had to be cut off. Then a broomstick would be stood in the hole at the bottom and held upright while the barrel was filled with damp sawdust and packed fairly tight. The filled barrel would then be stood on a base of three bricks on edge, leaving a space underneath into which a large piece of crumpled newspaper would be inserted. The newspaper would be lit and as the flame travelled up the space left when the broomstick was withdrawn, it would ignite the sides of the hole as it travelled up and thereby start the process of smouldering. If the open top end of the barrel was covered by a sheet of iron, or a grill, a pot could be boiled on it, in time.

Sawdust could be had for nothing, at any of the sawmills in the town, so the cooking could go on, and did in fact go on unabated for many years after the war. In fact, there are still small shops that sell hot crubeens at night, and on your way home from the cinema or theatre you could get the delicious smell of these bacon delicacies.

Lid/Grill Barrel
 

©Geoff Cronin 2008.

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 Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones along the way – The American Connection by Geoff Cronin

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Welcome to this week’s story from my late father-in-law’s memoir of his life as a boy growing up in Waterford Ireland.

The American Connection by Geoff Cronin

My great uncle Richard Condon who was my grandfather’s brother in law lived in Chicago for most of his life and was reported to be worth at least three million dollars. In 1930, my father was his sole heir and was to inherit the fortune. However, my father received a telegram about that time to say that his uncle, Richard Condon, had just got married. The man was near eighty years old at that time and my father said “he’s got married now with one leg in the grave and the other on a bar of soap!”

Apparently, he had been involved a car accident and was seriously injured. A long period of recovery ensued and he was nursed back to reasonably good health by a lady nurse called Jessie Barr? And this was his new bride. She was a Scots Presbyterian, twenty nine years old and weighed about twenty stone. Quite a handful! Anyway the happy couple set out on a sort of world tour in the process of which they came to Ireland and visited my family for about three weeks, during which time they enjoyed lavish hospitality at my father’s expense, including hiring a car for the duration of the stay.

Time came for them to depart and my brothers and sister and I were given a present each – a five shilling sweep ticket! We were not ecstatic at such munificence needless to say.

Richard Condon, Chicago 1909.

Their programme was to go to Glasgow to meet her family, which they did and then do a tour of the Scottish Highlands. It was during that tour that the old man collapsed and died and we learned that he was to be buried in Waterford in the Cronin grave.

So the funeral took place and the widow accompanied by her brother and his wife stayed at our house in Woodstown and were royally entertained. She stayed on for ten days or so and the others remained on for three weeks. During the ten days she gave me his gold penknife and all his ties, about fifty or so and my brothers received his watch and his cufflinks as their inheritance. I don’t remember my sister getting anything but his new will was produced, leaving everything to his widow, and it had been recently prepared by her brother in law who was a lawyer.

Jessie Barr Condon, Mary Jo Cronin, Richard Condon

So that was that so to speak. But as a sort of goodwill gesture, my elder brother and I were taken back to Glasgow for a ten day holiday and the Empire Exhibition was on at that time. We stayed with her people there and had a good time, though I was reprimanded for whistling on the Sunday – those people were strict Presbyterian and I retaliated by putting an Irish shilling in the collection plate at mass on the same Sunday knowing that it was not legal tender in Scotland.

During that visit we saw the “Queen Elizabeth” still under construction in 1938 and re-visited John Brown’s Iron Foundry which was interesting.

But back to our home in Woodstown before my great uncle died:

At that time the ‘local’ post office, which was run by a Mr. Delaney and his wife, was two miles away, in Rosduff, and during my great uncle’s short illness there were telegrams arriving daily with the news.

These telegrams, of a strictly confidential nature were delivered by the postmaster, Mr. Delaney on a bicycle. The fee for delivery was sixpence, paid on delivery and being a courteous man, Delaney when handing over the sealed envelope would always remove his cap and announce, “I think he’s failing ma’am” or “’tis not looking good”. On delivery of the final telegram, he announced, “I’m sorry for your trouble ma’am, the poor man is gone”.

My mother remarked, “I suppose it saves me opening the envelope”!

The inheritance of fifty American ties on my part caused a stir in another area altogether because at school I had a very dapper English teacher who used to wear a new tie every day and when I noticed this I too began wearing a new tie each day, only mine were multicoloured and garish. My teacher nearly had a heart attack as I upstaged him with these outlandish offerings and the class spotted what was going on. When eventually the teacher came in wearing the same tie I knew he was “out of ammunition” and next day I did likewise and so retired undefeated. Oddly, not one single word was said about this matter.

Extract from Richard Condon’s Will, dated 9th March 1937

©Geoff Cronin 2010

About Geoff Cronin – 1923 – February 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 Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones along the way – The Sailor’s Mass #Waterford by Geoff Cronin


The Sailor’s Mass

In my Grandfather’s time the village of Passage East, Co. Waterford, was famous for its sailors, and most of the local men went to sea at an early age, signing on for trips to foreign parts on the many sailing ships out of Waterford Port. Many of these men were what was called Longshore Men, and could be at sea for months at a time depending on the length of the voyage.

The reputation of Passage men was legendary among Shipowners and merchants trading in and out of the port. My Grandfather, who owned several ships, always signed Passage men to crew his ships and there was also a tradition of Pilots living in the village, in fact, when I was a boy, living in nearby Woodstown, I knew several of the then pilots who were Passage men and I would see them from time to time at Crooke Chapel where we went to Mass.

Waterford, in the old days, was known as Waterford of the Ships, such was the volume of traffic through the port, and most of the ships were Brigantines or Barquentines of about two hundred tons, and they sailed as far afield as America, New Zealand, Australia and South America. Record has it that up to eighty ships per week went to Iceland, where people found seasonal employment in the fish factories and allied industries there.

But back to Passage again where the local population were justly proud of their sailors. So much so that a cohort of pious ladies of the village used to collect a shilling a week from the various families whose men were at sea, and when they had collected a total of thirty shillings they would give the money to the curate at Crooke Chapel to say a Mass for ‘the prosperous voyage and safe return of the following who are at sea…’ a list of the names would be furnished and the men’s names would be read off the altar at Sunday Mass. The list varied very little and I still remember some of the names:- Edward Gunnip, James Heffernan, Richard Donnelly, Patrick Walsh, etc. etc. The Christian names are a bit hazy with me after seventy odd years, but you know the general idea.

Luggers at Passage East, 1961.

The practice was indeed laudable but there was a slight problem. When times were hard, people would miss out on the collection and it could take several weeks to get the required thirty shillings, with the result that by the time that the names were read out at Mass, many of those listed would be back in the bosom of their families and would, in fact, be sitting in the congregation. This was quite amusing, especially when those guys would turn a hugely smiling face to neighbouring pews, acknowledging the honourable mention of their names. Even so, it was a tribute not only to the sailors, but to the whole village, and it continued all the years I lived in the area – it might still be going on – I hope so!

©Geoff Cronin

***

N.B.. At the same time as Geoff is talking about my great-great-grandfather William Walsh was a pilot working out of Kinsale in Cork. His son my great-grandfather was also a pilot but then joined the Royal Navy in 1868.

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 Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones along the way – The Money Ball Shop and Snippets #Waterford by Geoff Cronin

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The Moneyball Shop

In the city of Waterford in the 1930s there was a shop which drew kids to its windows like a very powerful magnet. It was run by the O’Neill family and was situated on the corner at the top of New Street hill. It was known as the Moneyball Shop because in the centre of the window there was a tray filled high with bright red coloured rock sweets and you could see money sticking out of them. Half crowns, Sixpenny pieces, Shillings, pennys and threepenny bits would be peeping out of these red lumps of lusciousness which were also rolled in sugar.

On entering the shop you saw three trays of Monneyballs marked one penny, twopence and threepence and you bought according to your purse. Then the appropriate tray would be put before you and you could take your pick in high hopes of getting one with a prize inside.

Outside the shop the corner, the shop doorpost and even the iron downpipe at the end of the shop bore witness to the activities of kids who banged their purchases there to see what luck had brought them. On breaking them open the lucky ones would contain for the most part a halfpenny or a penny, and on rare occasions a sixpenny piece and kids would boast about the time they got a shilling. Nobody was ever known to get a half crown but now and again there would be a peanut inside and it would be wrapped in a piece of paper which could be retrieved carefully and it would say “Goldfish”. This was indeed a prize to boast about and would be given in a jamjar to be carried off in triumphant fashion.

Generation after generation of school kids gambled their pennies in the Moneyball Shop and to put the prizes in context you should know that in those days a cinema ticket was four pennies. Also there was one consolation when the Moneyball contained nothing – at least you could eat the fragments, which on the whole were very tasty.

The shop had another claim to fame – it was the only shop which would sell you a halfpenny fag and a match, no questions asked, so if you felt like living dangerously the opportunity was there!

***

Q. What would you find in a quiver?
A. Jelly.

***

Precisely

Three professors were walking out the driveway of their university on their way home when one of the noticed a gathering of ladies of ‘easy virtue’ standing by the gates.

“Now gentlemen”, said one of them, “what collective term do you think we should use to describe such a gathering”?

“How about a Cadenza of Strumpets”, suggested the professor of music?

“No.” Said the professor of humanities. “I prefer A Jam of Tarts”.

“Not precise enough”, said the professor of English, “but I think I have it… An anthology of English Pros!”
©Geoff Cronin 2010

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 Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones along the Way – 100 Plants and snippets by Geoff Cronin


The Hundred Plants

When I married Joan Flanagan we went to live at number 30 St. Ursula’s Terrace, a rented house where Joan had lived all her life. As we had been courting for four years prior to the marriage, I knew all the neighbours in the area and they had decided that I would need good advice especially when it came to gardening as the garden was my first priority when I moved in.

It all began the moment I took a spade in my hand and went out to tackle the garden, which had been sadly neglected for years. My immediate neighbour on my left appeared the moment I sank the spade into the ground.

“I see you’re making a start there” he said, “and you have a tough job in front of you”. “I’ll tell you how to clear that land of weeds, first of all get yourself a hundred (cabbage) plants, next get a short stick and put a point on it, now get a bottle of water. Then when you have the ground dug and levelled come along with your pointed stick and put holes in the ground about two feet apart in rows and have two feet between the rows. Now get your bottle of water and put water in each hole. Then drop the plants in the holes and bring soil in around the stems and there you have your cabbage patch and those plants are so hungry that they’ll starve the weeds by eating up all the nourishment in the ground.

Then the following year plant your spuds in that patch which will be clean of weeds by that time. And there you have it!”

As I thanked my neighbour (for nothing) and as he left the scene, my next door neighbour on the other side appeared and approached me with the comment. “I see your thinking of making a start there and I noticed your man giving you the benefit of his experience. Well, let me tell you, he’s talking bullshit and you should pay no attention whatsoever to anything he says. Now I’m tilling this garden this last fifty years and I know a bit about it. Given see, you have a neglected garden on your hands there and there’s only one way to clear the weeds out of it and here’s the plan…

“First of all get yourself a hundred (cabbage plants) and then you’ll need a bottle of water and a short pointed stick etc. etc.” There followed precisely the same instructions but with this addendum. “I knew all belonging to you boy and I know the way you were raised and how could you know anything about gardening?”

So, not wishing to hurt his feelings, I thanked him for his advice and since by that time the daylight was fading I went back into the house for my tea.

A few days later I was walking down the town when a man from three doors down, stopped me. “Hello there” he said, “I see you’re making a start on the garden and I noticed that you were getting plenty of advice from your two next door neighbours. Well you can ignore whatever they told you because they know feck all about gardening and I’m going to put you right here and now. You can see what you have here is an old neglected garden and there’s only one way to clear the weeds out of it. Here’s what you have to do. First get yourself a hundred plants (cabbage), then you’ll need a short stick with a point on it and a bottle of water etc. etc.”

The recipe was exactly the same as before and I had to smile but I thanked him for his advice and went on my way.

In the event I made a hen run in the section nearest the house, a row of loganberries was next followed by rhubarb, onions, carrots and lettuce and guess what a small cabbage patch!

My neighbours were decent and helpful in every way over the years that followed and I still cherish those memories of a happy if frugal time of my life.

Postscript

Joan and I lived at number thirty for several years. I built a kitchen on to the back of the house as the family grew and turned the existing kitchen into a living/dining room.
The building of the kitchen, which I did single handed, is another story. We left that house in 1955 and moved to ‘Selby’ and that is yet another story.

***

An apprentice shop assistant was ten minutes late coming back to work after lunch and the manager, who was a stickler for timekeeping, stopped him at the door and the following communication ensued:-

Manager: Why are you late back after lunch?

Boy: I had to get a haircut, sir.

Manager: You’re not entitled to get your hair cut in the firm’s time.

Boy: But it grows in the firm’s time, sir.

Manager: Well, it didn’t all grow in the firm’s time.

Boy: I know that, sir, but I didn’t get it all cut!

©Geoff Cronin 2010

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 Colour of Life, The Black Bitch and the previous chaptes of Milestones in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones along the Way – The Banks (of The Suir) by Geoff Cronin


The Banks (of The Suir)

In the 1930s, when I was a boy there were five banks in the City of Waterford. The Munster and Leinster, The Bank of Ireland, The Provincial, The National and The Penny Savings Bank. The population of the city at that time was approximately twenty five thousand.
The bank manager was regarded as a very important man in those days and in fact his employees, clerks and typists etc., were held to be a cut above the ordinary. The clerks were required to join the golf club and to be seen in all the best places – they were paid about thirty shillings a week!

Banking then was seen as reserved for wealthy people, shopkeepers, property owners, solicitors, big farmers and the like and people who could boast a cheque book or a bank account were thin on the ground. In general business was done in cash and wages were invariably paid in cash.

In the previous century, powerful families founded their own banks and produced notes for one pound, one guinea, two pounds, three pounds and fifty pounds and these were signed by family members or partners as guarantors. The prominent Waterford banks of the time were Newport’s Bank and Roberts Bank. Samples of their bank notes, now quite rare, are illustrated in this book and I learned that a Waterford Bank note for nine shillings was recently sold at auction in Canada for £800 sterling.

But back to the 1930s – at that time there was a bank in every town and village in the country, some of them in remote parts, and a story is told of one such bank in a small town. At this point I must tell you that the standard minimum staff in such an establishment would consist of a manager, a cashier and a porter. Bank Inspectors were employed by the head office to visit the branch offices without prior notice to check up on the operations of same. Needless to say the branch staff did not welcome such visits.

However, a visit from an inspector was scheduled by head office for this particular bank and he arrived at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday morning. The little town was not fully awake at that hour and there was nobody about as the inspector approached the bank. He checked the time as he walked purposefully through the entrance noting that the porter was not “on the door”.

There was nobody to be seen in the bank. No porter, no cashier and no manager! No customers either! The inspector was perplexed and as he pondered the situation, he heard faint voices coming from the manager’s private office. He went quietly towards and opened the office door a crack and saw the three boys engrossed in a game of poker. He retreated quietly and passing the cashier’s box he pressed the alarm button.

Well the bell went off with a deafening volume and the inspector stood in the middle of the foyer and waited for the inevitable panic to erupt. But nothing happened. No movement from the manager’s office. Nothing!

But while he stood there, perplexed and dumbfounded, the bar man from the pub across the road appeared carrying a tray with two bottles of stout and a large whisky, entered the bank and vanished through the door of the manager’s office. Almost immediately he re-appeared carrying the empty tray and as he passed the cashier’s box he reached in and switched off the alarm.

When he was dead level with the open mouthed inspector, he said “The manager wants to know what are ye havin’ ”?

One Pound note from Waterford Bank, 1880

Three Pound note from Roberts Bank, 1809

***

On his way home from school a boy, the extent of whose finances was one halfpenny, went into a cake shop and asked for “A halfpenny stale penny cake!”

My father recounted this story from his schooldays in the 1890s.

©Geoff Cronin 2010

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 Colour of Life and the previous chapters of The Black Bitch in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

Milestones Along the Way – The Bed to Beat All and Rural Electrification – by Geoff Cronin

Status


To finish the series on books by Geoff Cronin I am going to share some of the stories from his last published book Milestones. I hope you enjoy.

The Bed to Beat All

Lady Lushington had died and there was an auction of the contents of her mansion, which was near Waterford City, and it attracted a large gathering of people including some members of the then wealthy pig buyers from Ballybricken.

Some days after the auction one of these men was telling his friends in the local pub about the magnificent furniture etc. which had gone under the hammer – “And there was a bed,” he said, “the biggest I ever saw and it must have been seven foot across.” There was a gasp from his audience.

In the moment’s silence that followed, the barman/ owner said “Sure that’s not a big bed! Did ye ever see the size of the bed upstairs where me and me brother slept for years?”

Heads shook and one guy said “Well, how big is it?” “Well I don’t know the exact measurements” he replied, “but I can tell you that when my brother died I didn’t find out about it for a week – that’s how big it is!”

*****

A man consulted his confessor in these terms:

“There is something I have prayed for over a long period and I don’t seem to get an answer. Can you advise me what to do?”

“Continue praying fervently, my son, and have faith in The Lord” said the priest. And the man did as he was bid.

On meeting the priest two years later he said, “You know, Father, I’ve prayed and prayed for that favour, and I never got an answer.”

“Well, said the priest, “did it ever strike you that “NO” is an answer?”

The Rural Electrification

In the 1940s the powers that be decided that the electric light should be brought to every hamlet and village in the country and to that end the E.S.B. sent an official to a certain village in West Waterford to canvas the locals as part of the grand plan. Accordingly that man visited each household in the single street and the people signed up “for the light”.

The canvasser noted that one line of poles would be sufficient for the job, provided that the person in the last house signed up. But, Katie, the occupant, well known to be cross-grained and cantankerous, had decided that she would not have it despite her conversations with the canvasser. He had explained that if she decided at a later date to change her mind it would then cost £50 to put up a pole especially for her. Still she could not bend!

So the light came to the village and people said what a blessing it was especially in the dark evenings when you could still do a bit of work outside even at a late hour.

Well things rested so and Katie stuck it out in spite of all the “digs” she suffered from neighbours on a Friday when she went to the Post Office for her pension. But after some months the peer pressure became too much, even for Katie and she quietly “signed up”.

The gossip spread as the single pole went up at the end of the street.

Katie didn’t appear at the Post Office for two weeks and when she did there was no shortage of comments like “so you got the lights in after all” and “sure it must be a great change and comfort to you Katie”.

Well, when the ‘well-wishing’ subsided, she addressed the gathering in these terms. “To tell you the truth it is indeed a great comfort to me for the E.S.B man put a thing on the wall in the kitchen called a switch and when I press it the light comes on and then I have no bother finding the candle”! “A great comfort indeed.”

***

Q. Who was Florence Nightingale?
A. A nurse who sang in Berkeley Square.

©GeoffCronin 2010

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 Colour of Life and the previous chapters of The Black Bitch in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/

The Black Bitch and other Tales by Geoff Cronin – Street Musicians and Snippets


We have come to the final chapter of Geoff’s book of tales but next weekend I will begin to share his last book that he wrote.  Tomorrow, one of his favourite shaggy dog stories.

Street Musicians by Geoff Cronin

In the 1930s and early 40s in Waterford there were many street musicians to be seen and heard. They varied greatly in appearance and expertise and they appeared on different days of the week for reasons which never became clear to me.

One such character who comes to mind was a tin whistle player known as ‘Cock Up’ and his repertoire consisted of traditional Irish music. After playing a selection he would call on all the shops within earshot and collect whatever few coppers the occupants offered. In this way he covered the length of the main street and then went on to the areas where doors were closed rather than open.

Another well-known man was an ex-army band master whose pension was not sufficient to match his fondness for ‘the bottle’ and he played the piccolo with a flair which showed that he was not an ordinary ‘busker’.

This man was a practised entertainer and without a sheet of music to guide him, he presented a programme of classical, operatic and popular numbers, always finishing with a military band tune. ‘Colonel Bogey March’ was a favourite and featured a particular part for a piccolo.

There were many others, singers as well as musicians but the pair which really took my fancy were a real Vaudeville turn who became known as ‘The Beery Fiddlers’.

One of them played the violin and the other played the tenor banjo. I fondly remember their version of ‘Lily of Laguna’ which they always played and sang. I can see them now, strolling along the footpath in time to the strains of ‘She’s, my, lady-love’… These guys were great musicians and even played requests on occasion – my mother got the violin player to render a number called ‘Humouresque’, which had been popularised at that time by Fritz Kreisler, and he did it in expert fashion.

Those were the days when cars were few and streets echoed with human voices, the sound of a messenger-boy whistling a tune as he cycled by, an occasional hawker shouting his wares, the laughter of children playing and the sound of a dray cart as it went along delivering heavy merchandise to the shops and overall, completing the wonderful mosaic of sound, the street musicians.

* * *

A bachelor is a man who never made the same mistake once.

How to get the maximum heat from a bag of coal:-

Put it up on your back and run around the garden for ten minutes. By then you will be warm and you’ll still have the bag of coal intact.

A Short Answer

On meeting an old friend, recently, we were reminiscing about our young days when he mentioned the name of a very good looking girl who happened to be an old flame of mine.
I was curious to know if she had married and when I put the question, my friend said, “Well no, she never got married, but to give her her due I’d say she flattened a fair bit of grass in her time.”

I decided to change the subject.

©Geoff Cronin

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 Colour of Life and the previous chapters of The Black Bitch in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-colour-of-life-by-geoff-cronin/