JANET Dillon of Cork City Ballet wrote to tell us how delighted her father was to see his younger self in a picture we published recently.
“My father, Noel Dillon, is very much enjoying your Throwback Thursday articles in the Echo. This particular week, his sister in Dublin sent him a copy of De Bats, and he was surprised to see himself as a youngster in one of the photos. He asked me to email you the following words....”
He wrote: “The sight of the photographs of the 14 swimmers posing at the Eglinton Street Baths in Cork in 1951 alerted my attention. I am fourth from the left, standing at the back. On my left is Declan Desmond, a formidable swimmer, and immediately in front is Noel Cronin, a good friend from long ago.
"This evokes affectionate memories of my summer holidays in Graball Bay in Crosshaven when I was a teenager.
"Noel Cronin and I played in a team drawn from the holiday-makers (I don’t know where we got the team jerseys) against the local Crosshaven team in the GAA field there. We had a few good players on our team, but one we did not have was the famous Tipperary county player, Tony Wall. He was staying with some fellow-army cadets in Fort Camden, and would be regularly seen playing around with a group of his friends in the field. Whether our selectors were not aware of him, or whether he was unavailable to play, I do not know.”
A Dutch family called Hoffsteds lived on a bungalow on top of Graball Hill, recalls Mr Dillon.
“Leonard, the father, was the manager of the boat yard. They had three small children – two boys, and a small blonde girl about five years old, who was always running around after her older brothers.
"One day, the little girl (Nellie was her name) fell off the cliff, down on to the beach. Panic ensued all around, but fortunately she was so light, she did not sustain any injury.
“In my younger days, my parents would bring me to 11am open-air mass in Fort Camden. After mass, some man (I never knew who he was and it didn’t trouble me) would take me and a few other kids in a rowing boat from the pier in Camden back over to Graball Bay. That was the highlight of our Sunday!
“My family was also friends with the Olneys (mentioned in your previous article), a friendship that was spawned during our holidays in Crosshaven.”
Many years ago, says Noel, a young Cork Examiner reporter by the name of Mary Walsh wrote a beautiful article about the converted buses and railway carriages long ago in Crosshaven.
“In response, I wrote to the paper reminiscing on that period. People stopped me in the street to comment on both articles, and all were anxious to tell me their stories as well. As Jake Tapper on CNN would say ‘may these memories be a blessing.’ “
Indeed they are, Noel, as the response each week to this page shows only too clearly. We always like to remember the days of our carefree youth, but in worrying times such as this, those recollections become ever more reassuring and comforting. Keep them coming! And if you happen to have a copy of that original response you wrote to De Paper about the converted buses and railway carriages at Crosshaven (not to mention De Ford Boxes), Noel, we would be very happy to bring it to a new generation of readers on Throwback Thursday. Railway carriages were (still are) a familiar sight on the north Dublin beaches such as Portrane, and families would spend the entire summer there back in the Sixties. They didn’t have far to travel (the carriages, we mean), since there were railway lines nearby, but one wonders how those at Crosshaven were transported to their final sites on the cliffs.
And with regard to Jerry Holt’s entertaining anecdote in our Oct 7 page, on the diverted Dublin flight arriving into Cork, which meant passengers had to be transported by train back to the capital in the middle of the night, Michael Nolan wrote: “I was certainly not one of the captains of industry or a well-to-do merchant back then, but in the late 70s - early 80s you could fly one way to or from Dublin and complete your return journey by train for the price of the train ticket. Mine was paid for by my employer as I was a regular traveller to the Dublin office from Cork.
“On one occasion that I vividly remember, I was due to fly to Dublin the following morning.
"However, during the night I dreamt that the plane crashed into the sea and I could clearly see the water rising up outside the window as the plane sank.
"When I woke up I realised it was all a dream although the horror was still with me. I thought if I don’t get on that plane I will never fly again. So off with me up to the airport and took my flight. Which was uneventful, thank Heaven!”
Thankfully, he says, he was never diverted due to fog on the return journey to Cork as this would entail a diversion to Shannon and a bus trip to Cork arriving around 2 o’clock the following morning.
“But I do recall two other occasions of note on the same route. I was scheduled to fly to Dublin one morning, but unfortunately I slept it out. I live quite close to the airport and I listened to hear the flight take off.
“I couldn’t hear the usual sound, so I quickly got dressed and headed up to the airport. In those days you had to pass through the security barrier with your car, and I enquired anxiously at the control hut as to whether the Dublin plane had taken off. The security guard smiled and replied, ‘Taken off? Sure the plane for that flight hasn’t even landed yet.’ So I got away with my oversleeping and nobody was any the wiser.”
His second memorable Aer Lingus experience was one night just before Christmas.
“After a meeting with Aer Rianta in Dublin, we boarded the propeller plane for Cork. (It used to be called the vomit comet because of its habit of dropping sharply in air pockets.)
"Shortly after takeoff, the pilot announced that he had a malfunction with one of his compasses, and he was required under aviation rules to land at the nearest airport which meant a return to Dublin.
There were a lot of sighs and moans from the passengers, but then a Cork voice from the back of the plane shouted ‘No problem boy, just follow the Cork Road!’ Well he was right, wasn’t he? All roads in Ireland lead to De Real Capital!”
SEEKING HALLOWEEN MEMORIES
Halloween is coming up, but despite the powers that be putting the bank holiday this coming weekend, and the jazz festival gearing up for a lively time, the real Halloween or Samhain is actually Sunday October 31. So go out and enjoy the events this weekend by all means, but take time to celebrate the Celtic New Year on the 31st. It’s one of our oldest festivals, along with Bealtaine or May Day, and should be observed by all right-thinking Celts. What do you remember of your childhood Halloweens? Let us know.
And related to these upcoming events, Jerry Holt writes to say: “I have just read the about the disruption to rail travellers on the jazz weekend. Sorry for the inconvenience but there are a couple of points (!) to make about the forthcoming upgrading of the signalling system at Kent Station. Back in the day there were three signalmen working 24/7 on their own, operating most of the 110 levers in the cabin, all manually operated, no mechanical or electrical assistance.
"Some of the levers were pure killers. In fact one of the signalmen had to wear a special corset to keep his ribs together. You can’t imagine the mental and physical dexterity involved in keeping trains apart and going the right way.
"I was put in the cabin to try and learn it, and I got the gist, in fact I got my Signalman’s Cert but I can tell you it weren’t easy as they say.”
Jerry was also trained up by Greg in the Kilbarry cabin and Dinny Moore in the Rathpeacon cabin, also known as The Brakehouse.
“All the goods trains had to stop there and the brakes applied on each individual wagon before they could make the descent through the tunnel. Dinny Moore was a powerhouse of a man. He lived in Blarney and after his night shift at Rathpeacon he would go shovelling coal for, I think it was Suttons, that was his day job. A mighty man. He had a kitten that assisted him in the cabin so he was an all round nice guy.”
21st Century progress can go a bit overboard at times, adds Jerry, but the digitalisation of signalling is long overdue, “I hope Institutional Memory is not totally lost though, because, digits can break down.”
True for you, Jerry.
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