Fond memories of Carrigaline Pottery recalled as sculpture set to be unveiled

Our story last week on Carrigaline Pottery invoked many memories, while JO KERRIGAN also remembers some of the shops and people of the northside, in our weekly Throwback Thursday feature
Fond memories of Carrigaline Pottery recalled as sculpture set to be unveiled

CRAFTING A LIVING: Workers in Carrigaline Pottery, Co. Cork, in 1931

TOMORROW is Culture Night, and all over the city and county there will be events going on, and places you can visit that aren’t normally open to the public.

Seize the opportunity to discover more about the history of our wonderful city, from Elizabeth Fort to that grand old Victorian theatre on MacCurtain Sreett, now known as the Everyman. They have a resident ghost there, you know…

In Carrigaline, they will be unveiling a sculpture tomorrow night in honour of Carrigaline Pottery, which had such a long history in the town and employed countless residents, as well as those coming in from further afield.

We talked about the pottery last week in Throwback Thursday, you will recall, and that prompted David Murphy to write in from Toronto no less. Isn’t it nice to know that the Echo is read cover to cover (or screen to screen, since they are perusing it online) in far off places like Canada?

Carrigaline Pottery.
Carrigaline Pottery.

“I look forward every week to your articles,” writes David, “but this week’s one held special memories for me. I have been living in Toronto for the past 30 years, but grew up in Carrigaline.”

He attended the local primary school, right across from the pottery, and says that over the years they were taken on multiple tours of the place, always enjoying the experience. And it had other, less approved attractions too.

“During lunch break we would sneak across the road to the pottery car park (where the hotel now stands), get the seconds and faulty pottery that they spread out as a surface there, line them up and throw stones at them.”

David didn’t realise back then that these simple pieces of pottery, which graced every table in the land, would become collectors’ items.

“I most certainly realise the value of them now, both actual and sentimental,” he says.

“I started collecting some years ago, and am constantly searching, and finding Carrigaline pottery in the most obscure parts of Ontario. The average value is about 15 to 20 dollars per piece.”

David kindly shared with us pictures of his collection, housed safely in a glass cabinet.

“Thanks for your articles each week,” he ended. “I look forward to each Thursday morning.”

And then he added a quick PS.

“The pottery dump that you mention is up the Ballinrea road, about three miles outside the town.”

That must be the very place uncovered by the relief road works back in the summer of 2020, David, and reported thus in the Echo:

“A ‘substantial’ amount of pottery has been unearthed during works for a new road in Carrigaline.

“Cork County Council said that during the works on the route of the new Western Relief road for the town, its contractor had to remove significant amounts of waste pottery from the site.

“The route is located behind the former site of a once large pottery factory in the town.”

Another reader, Margaret, wrote in to ask where we used to buy that lovely striped Carrigaline ware?

She has a dim memory of seeing counters of it laid out in Roches Stores, but isn’t sure. And it must have been on sale in every village and town too, since you saw the cups and saucers, the jugs and bowls, on every kitchen table back then.

Can anybody remember where they bought it? It certainly wasn’t expensive, and that was its big attraction. Do let us know.

A reader recalls that Irish dancer Peggy McTeggart lived on Dominic Street
A reader recalls that Irish dancer Peggy McTeggart lived on Dominic Street

And now to that wonderful old part of the city on the northside of the river, where narrow lanes intersect crazily with newer roads and with each other, historic buildings from the great days of the butter market stand tall and dignified, cheek by jowl with tiny 19th century workers’ cottages, and the bells of Shandon echo over the city as they have always done.

Michael Kelly, who proudly signs himself ‘Dominic Street Resident’, asks if anyone remembers Dinie Green’s at the corner of Dominic Street.

“She was a rare commodity,” he recalls. 

“There was also Mrs Twomey two doors down and Ronnie Rohu furrier was in between. Another place well known was Frank O’Brien, the chemist, and of course Donnelly’s bakery.”

Tell us more, Michael. Who or what was Dinie Green, and why was she such a rare commodity?

“Oh, she was an institution on Shannon Street. Just like Bridie McCarthy, only Dinie did not offer any credit. She was an unbelievable lady.”

Hang on, hang on, now we’ve got Bridie McCarthy! Elucidate Michael, do! He obliges.

“Dinie Green’s, Bridie McCarthy’s and Mrs Twomey’s were all shops. They sold everything from a needle to an anchor.”

(Oh, doesn’t that bring back the days when you really did have local shops, several on a street, and we had never heard of huge supermarkets?)

The only difference between those shops, explains Michael Kelly, was that Bridie McCarthy gave weekly credit to her good customers, whereas Dinie Green most definitely did not.

“Mrs Twomey was famous for her goosegogs [gooseberries]. She seemed to specialise in getting the sourest ones. You would get a huge bag of them for a penny.”

One wonders if these were the unriper ones, rejected by the big jam factory Ogilvie & Moore as being unsuitable for their purposes.

Each shop had its own faithful customers, and so it was essential that each sold everything which a hard-pressed housewife might need, be it buttons for her husband’s shirt or rice for a pudding.

“Bridie sold the likes of ¼ lb of butter, ½ lb of tea or sugar,” says Michael. “Not everyone could afford a whole pound of something at a time and all the shopkeepers up there knew that.

“She had a Christmas club too, and you paid in all year, making things that bit easier when it was coming up to December. And she had an account for every reliable customer. You could go to Bridie and charge everything to the book, and settle up on your payday.”

Another reader, Katie, remembers the same thing happening at a little shop on Wellington Road where her mother got all her groceries.

“I think it was run by a Mrs O’Donovan. My mother would get potatoes, carrots, biscuits, the occasional Thompson’s cake as a treat for us, and it would all go down in the ledger. Then she would pay it off at the end of the week.”

Michael recalls that Donnelly’s bakery was a big institution in the Shandon area.

“It was famous for its skulls and turnovers. They were always crusty and black. Gorgeous they were. Oh, Donnelly’s is sadly missed.”

And again, Katie on Wellington Road has vivid memories of that tall horse-drawn van swaying elegantly down the street and pausing while its driver handed loaves to housewives issuing from their doors. Was Donnelly’s one of the last to use those high-sprung delivery vans?

Michael also remembers O’Gormans Hat Factory and Daly’s Margarine factory (now the Firkin Crane).

“Jack Lynch’s house was on 55. Dominic Street and the queen of Irish Dancing (Peggy McTeggart) lived at No 56 where she ran a shop.

“Of course, we also had Fr O’ Flynn on Mulgrave Road, who was accredited with perfecting a cure for the stammer.

“The Butter Exchange Band had their practice hall on Mulgrave Road and the sound of music every Sunday in the area was brilliant. Mr Marshal was the musical director and conductor back then.”

Harrington’s Cakes were in Church Street, Michael recalls, “and many a cake was enjoyed, both bought and otherwise, with trolleys of them on the street waiting to be delivered. The free ones were most enjoyable!”

And the proliferation of pubs in the area beggars belief.

“We had Tommy Sulls, Jack Rumm’s, Mrs Creans (Now the Four liars Restaurant), Kelly’s Bar and Shop, Kay O’Mahony’s, and Buckley’s at the Mulgrave Road end. My house was between Tommy Sulls (No 19) and Jack Rumm’s (No 17).

It’s fascinating to note that Michael Kelly’s home on Dominic Street had formerly been the very first telegraphic post office in Cork.

“This was because of the butter market. All sales and prices were sent through this office all over the world.

“When we moved in, the gas lamps were still there and the pay hatch was still in the hallway. It was still there when we left the house in 1991 after my Mam passed away.”

Michael’s family lived in Dominic Street from 1955 to 1991.

“Our house was rented from Daly’s Margarine and my mother was registered as a caretaker so we had reduced rent to 13 shillings because my mother had worked as a domestic to the family since she came to Cork city from Rosscarbery in the 1930s.”

Of course, Michael’s childhood memories are also of playing in and around those laneways. “Helter Skelter, Knock and Run, football. We had or own handball alley which was the main wall ( between the pillars) of the Shandon Craft Centre. Many tournaments and matches were played there.

“Then we had the Chessie championships, which were a great thing at the time. Of course, when we wanted to hide we would head for the old Shandon graveyard. We could spend hours there hiding behind gravestones and of course lying on Fr Prout’s monument. They were great times. We all had nothing, and there was no trying to keep up with the Joneses.”

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