Smorgasbord Short Stories – Milestones Along the Way – #Waterford 1940s – The Rural Electrification by Geoff Cronin


Following on from The Colour of Life, my father-in-law Geoff Cronin wrote two more books with stories of life in Waterford and Dublin from the 1930s. He collected the stories on his travels, swapping them with others in return for his own and then treating us to the results of the exchange. Geoff also added some jokes overheard just for the Craic…Over the next few weeks I will be sharing selected stories from  Milestones Along the Way.

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.”

Just for the Craic

Needing an answer.

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?”

Florence Nightingale.

Who was Florence Nightingale?

A nurse who sang in Berkeley Square.

©Geoff Cronin 2008

Geoff Cronin 1923 – 2017

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks stories from Geoff and I hope you will pop in again next Saturday. Thanks Sally.