WELL, didn’t our story in last week’s Throwback Thursday on the Flying Enterprise pub in Cork city wake a whole lot of local memories!
You shared your thoughts by email and via the story on the echolive.ie Facebook page.
Michael O’Gorman wrote: “I well recall the ship, The Flying Enterprise, and her captain Kurt Carlsen. It was a huge item on the news at the time. We all prayed that both he and the ship would survive that storm, but it wasn’t to be for the ship, alas. It was a great name to give the pub.”
Philip McAuliffe says he remembers as a kid winning a fancy dress prize.
“I went as Captain Karlsen, skipper of the Flying Enterprise. It spent days. if not weeks, getting from the west of Ireland only to sink south of England. I never understood why it didn’t land in Bantry or Cork.”
The great picture of Barrack Street in the old days, dug out from our archives last week, rang a lot of bells too. Phil Riordan delightedly remembers that there was a bookmakers near the top of the street, John O’ Mahony’s.
“I worked there for a number of years, and have great memories of Barrack Street!”
Pat Brazil and his sister Claire, whose family, you will recall, owned the Enterprise for many years, were generous enough to share with us some great personal photographs, including the one on the left of his mother. Teresa. pulling the perfect pint at the Enterprise.
They also sent a marvellous photo of the Annual Enterprise Outing from the 1950s, which positively demanded some more detail. And good lad that he is, Pat provided a full run-down:
“The ‘outing’ was an annual organised event run by many local pub establishments in the city. From memory, the Enterprise outing normally headed to Glengarriff or Gougane Barra on a nominated summer Sunday.
“Customers wishing to travel paid a weekly subscription for months in advance. That covered the bus, a meal, and probably most of the drinks. However, it was considered a duty incumbent on the publican (our parents) to make up any shortfall, to ensure a successful and enjoyable day was had by all!”
The big day, Pat explains, started with the excursionists meeting up at the Enterprise in the early morning, although —most importantly - after attending Mass. As distinct from ‘after hours,’ he reveals, it was one of the very rare occasions drink was served up ‘before hours’.
“With the excitement building by the minute, the lads enjoyed this little bit of lawlessness until they were ready to travel. Then the bus would arrive and park on French’s Quay outside John Paul Curtin’s betting shop (closed on Sundays). The next job was to load the bus with the lads’ various tipples. The timber cases of stout and beer, pints of draught stout poured into spirit bottles (most didn’t like the bottled gas), bottles of barley wine and whatever the remaining connoisseurs required, were carried across the road and placed safely and securely like treasure on board.”
The bus and its cargo ready, the lads, armed with their sandwiches, bodice (cured pork rib, a traditional and economical Irish dish), and of course crubeens, would climb aboard.
By the time they were passing St Finbarr’s Cathedral, corks were popping and the sound of greaseproof paper being unwrapped could be heard, as sustenance was required with the long day ahead.
From what Pat remembers hearing, there were pit stops along the journey, both going to and returning, to visit premises that were well known or that somebody had heard about.
“It was a great day for ‘sing-songs’ and the culmination came with their arrival back to the Enterprise for the last hour or so, and the final ‘sing-song’. Meanwhile, some wives waited patiently with their half pint of shandy or Babycham (in the Snug) to make sure their charge would get home safely!”
It may sound a little indulgent on the alcoholic side to our virtuous, modern ears, but Mr Brazil makes the very true point that times were not as affluent then as now, and this one outing was a big day in the lives of many hard working men. He is right there.
Very few had cars then, and bus trips were rare treats. This writer can remember seeing bus-loads of factory workers being driven out to Robert’s Cove on summer Sundays, where they would picnic on the cliffs, have sing-songs, and even do the Hokey Cokey before piling back into the bus and going home, full of happy memories.
They were innocent times, when a trip to the sea or a beauty spot was something to be looked forward to for months, and discussed endlessly afterwards until it was time to anticipate the next year’s treat.
Liam McCarthy also got in touch to say how much he enjoyed that feature and the memories it brought back.
“I’ve been friendly for years with Finbarr O’Shea, and always loved the Flying Enterprise.”
He went on to recollect some memories of his own young days. Born two doors down from the North Chapel (“nowhere better than the Northside, boy!”) he went to school at the North Mon, but was taken out by his father at 13 to learn a useful trade.
“I went to the Crawford Tech to do carpentry and things like that. My mother was a Stacpoole, and she remembered the Black & Tans blowing up their house when she was small because her father was a cousin of Tomas MacCurtain.”
Liam started work in 1951 at the Christian Brothers College in MacCurtain Street. “Grand limestone façade that place had — still has. One of the last of the travelling journeymen came in to work there too, and one day I heard him saying he had changed his shirt in Waterford, and all the men were laughing. I was only the young one, and I didn’t understand so I asked about it afterwards.
“It seems he saw a clean shirt on a line, and simply took off his dirty one and hung it up, putting on the clean one instead. But you’d be wrong if you thought it was stealing. It wasn’t, it was an arrangement the journeymen had. There would be a mark on the gate that told travelling masons, carpenters, etc, that there would be a settle by the fire to sleep the night in that house. At the place in Waterford, another mark showed that this one did laundry, so that was how it was worked.
“All the journeymen, if they couldn’t find work in one place, they would tramp all over the country, and find shelter for the night at any of these houses while they searched for the work. It was a great system.”
Liam’s best friend in those young days was Jack Stanley. “We met not long ago, and after I’d left, his daughter asked who I was, and he told her, ‘We were livestock owners together’. And we were, but do you know what the livestock was? A ferret! We put a shilling each towards it and we were that proud of owning it!”
A chuckle follows as he recalls several stories about that ferret.
“Jack got known for being part-owner of it, and therefore probably a bit of an expert, and he was behind the counter in his mother’s pub on Shandon Street one day, and two men came in with a ferret in a bag and asked him to take a look at it and see was it a bit off colour, as it didn’t seem to be on top form. He took a look all right, but for all he knew it was fine! Wouldn’t it only happen in Cork?”
On another occasion, they were in the Tank Field with a hapless acquaintance named Kelleher.
“He didn’t know how to handle the ferret, and couldn’t get it back into its box.
"He had the notion of waving his finger in front of it to entice it in, but of course it made straight for his finger and latched on to it tight. He shrieked and threw his hand up in the air, and the ferret flew off, but landed smack on the middle of his back! We had Kelleher running all over the field screaming his head off with this ferret clung to his back! Ah, those were the days.”
The world of work was a bit more difficult though, he recalls.
“You did what your father and grandfather had done before you. My grand-uncle was known as Old Irons, because at the end of the day he would always say, ‘I’ll put together me old irons now, and be off.’. After that, my father became known as Young Old Irons, and when I started work I was nicknamed Rusty Irons.
“My grand-uncle worked on Rochestown College when it was first built. He would get up in the morning and walk down to be there for 6am. He would finish at 6 in the evening, and he’d walk all the way back home.”
Being a labourer rather than a tradesman, recalls Liam, meant that you were definitely second class. “You wouldn’t be allowed to eat or sit in the same room as the tradesmen. And no labourer could leave the site until all the tradesmen had left.
“That time, to be a tradesman your father had had to be one before you, and if he was, then that was what you had to be too.
"It was a cock-eyed system really. I mean, Pavarotti’s son couldn’t take his job, could he? But that was the way things were.”
Now 84, Liam has certainly not let age hold him back. Noted for his singing prowess over the years, he now entertains the citizens of care homes via Zoom.
“I joined the Cathedral choir at the age of six, and sang Gounod’s Ave Maria at the age of 12 as a soloist. My grandmother was a very good soprano entertainer, and my mother too.”
Liam won the Over 60s in 2006 with that fine tenor voice.
“I was in the show at the Opera House afterwards, and they put my mother on stage with me at the age of 94 to sing a duet with me! Didn’t take a feather out of her!”
Does all of this awaken some of your own memories? Let us hear them too. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or post on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/echolivecork.