Recalling my happy schoolboy days at Cork city school - Greenmount

A reader sends us photos and shares his memories of Greenmount School from the 1950s - and JO KERRIGAN also hears about memories of Ringmahon Rangers
Recalling my happy schoolboy days at Cork city school - Greenmount

ABOVE The Confirmation class of 1958 at Greenmount Front: M Carter, G Noonan, P Dowling, M Hayes, M Fanning, R Erangey, F Kent, T Sexton, D McCullagh.

EVERY time an old group photograph appears on our Throwback Thursday page, it calls forth a host of wonderful memories and recollections from those who see it. We have to thank the readers who take the time and trouble to search them out and send them in.

Ernie Nelson has supplied two pictures of Greenmount School in the 1950s: its Flageolet Band in 1957, and a Confirmation class of 1958 - see facing page.

He has provided the names of nearly all those in the Flageolet Band photo, but there is a gap there on the second row, fourth from left, and on the back row, third from right, next to Ernie himself. Is anybody able to identify these young musicians?

By the way, a flageolet is a wind instrument closely related to the recorder.

Ernie identifies all those in the confirmation picture, showing scrubbed and shining boys on their big day, is fully identified - he is at the extreme left on the third row.

Of course, having received these pictures, we demanded more memories of those schooldays, and Ernie courteously obliged.

“My first memory of Greenmount School (better known as The College On The Hill) was going through a steel gate and seeing a large steel steps to the upper floors on the outside of the building,“ recalled Ernie.

“I said, ‘What is this?’ Having seen pictures of detention centres, it frightened me, and I said to my mother who was escorting me to school on my first day, ‘I don’t want to go in here, take me home!’

“However, that wasn’t going to happen, so after a lot of tears, and gentle persuasion from my mother and my new teacher, Mr Murphy, I agreed to enter and start my time at Greenmount.

Greenmount School Flageolet Band in 1957.
Greenmount School Flageolet Band in 1957.

“During most of my time there I had the one teacher through to the finish, Brother Enda. He was an excellent teacher who gave a wide covering of subjects, and who was able to instil into us the teaching of these subjects without applying corporal punishment, which was common with most teachers at that time.”

When one looks back and really delves into that time, says Ernie, it was incredibly special.

“We would start school at 9am and return home at lunch hour for dinner and listen to Radio Eireann for The Kennedys Of Castleross, which went out on a Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm.

“We would be released from school at 12.30 to return for 2pm and finished at 3.30pm.

“Our mode of travel was walk, run, or, if you were lucky enough, you had a bicycle, which was always locked on arrival for safety.

“Near to the time before I was leaving to further my education elsewhere, I was in my mother’s home place, Drimoleague, where each year the Stations would be held in the farmhouse. My relations would come from far and near to attend, as this was a very important thing at that time, actually having Mass in the house. A lot of cleaning and decorating would be done beforehand.

“On the day of the Stations, I was asked by my cousins both about school I was going to next, and who was teaching me at Greenmount, I told them Brother Enda. One of my cousins said to the other, ‘That must be Br Enda O’Donovan from Derrivereen, Rossmore.’

“Obviously, I did not know where he was from. They then informed me that he was the son of a first cousin of my grandmother.

“So I was actually related to him, and never knew it all through the years at Greenmount! However, that’s life.”

Ernie vividly remembers an industrial institution next to the primary school, all being under the control of the Presentation Brothers.

“They had a farm, and other forms of labour-related activity, along with a bakery, housed in the grounds. They would bake bread and sell it to the local community.”

In his primary school, he recalls, local women would help in distributing the hot cocoa and jammed bread to the children in the school at break time, and also at lunchtime to the children who would not be in a position to go home then.

“On one occasion, two of us were sent over to the bakery to collect the bread and bring it to the ladies in the cocoa room, which was across the school yard.

“I remember going across and seeing the boys in the industrial school all dressed in the same type of clothing, dark grey heavy wool pants and heavy grey wool socks with grey jumpers, working in the fields. I did not spend time hanging around that place, I can assure you. We both got more than a little frightened at the thought of being kept there.”

Now that is some valuable detail about a little-known side of Cork life, Ernie. Thank you for telling us. By the way, can you still play the flageolet?

Ringmahon players and the committee in 1961, on winning the AUL league Division 1, the AOH Cup and the Presidents Cup.
Ringmahon players and the committee in 1961, on winning the AUL league Division 1, the AOH Cup and the Presidents Cup.

Now, do you Remember Pat Fitzgerald and his young days in Blackrock with hens and pigs in the back garden, which we featured a week or so back? Well, he got such a good reaction to his tales of schoolboy soccer that he sent us some more detail, and a few more pictures too.

“Tom Jones asked if that was Tucker Allen in the photograph of Ringmahon Rangers,” said Pat, “Yes, that certainly was him. Ringmahon signed him for the upcoming match with Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Senior Cup in 1969. He then went on to play for Cork Celtic and later Cork Hibs. He was a class act.”

Jones, for one, was keen to see a bit more about the soccer pitches on Church Road in Blackrock, so, Pat obliged.

“Church Road had four soccer pitches back in the ’50s. Joe O’Keeffe, a local farmer whose family were good friends of my mother, was the owner and he leased it out to the Cork AUL.

“Pitch one was normally used by division one teams and for end of season cup finals. Pitches two and three were for lower division teams, and pitch four for the very lower division teams.

“The season would start normally in September and would finish about early June. Then Inter-Firm matches would be played on the summer nights. AUL Minor matches were also played there, mainly on Sunday mornings.

“There was a metal railing all around pitch one and it was comfortable to lean on while watching a game. There were entrance gaps on the sides of the pitches and if there was a penalty up in pitch three a large crowd would run from pitch one through pitch two (even with a match on) to pitch three to see the penalty being taken.”

As schoolboys do, Pat well remembers a tempting sweet shop just outside the entrance. The owner was a lovely lady named Miss Cotter.

“And I remember Mossie Linnane and Billy Pa O;Sullivan from the AUL would be on duty at the gate and they used to let us in for nothing.”

There were terrific games played there, avers Pat, with great teams like Ringmahon Rangers, Blackrock, Rockmount, Saint Marys, Castleview, Wembley, Saint Michaels, Albion Rovers, and Greenmount and Everton in later years.

“Fermoy and Fermoy United also had outstanding teams back in the ’50s. I can remember players like Mick Flood, Larry Condon, Jonny Flynn in goal. A team from Tipperary, also called Saint Michaels, joined the AUL in 1973 and won the Fai Junior Cup and Munster Junior Cup in 1974. A Cork team haven’t won the FAI Junior Cup since Rockville got it in 1945!”

Pat sent us the two photos on the left - one of the Ringmahon team in 1955. Referees’ names from the that era can still be recalled.

“Miah Mullins, Tim Kelly (father of Pat Kelly and grandfather of Alan and Graham, all well-known referees today), Sylvie Mc Gregor, Rory O’Connor, John Warren (the ref with the lovely posh voice), Nedser Cotter, Sammy Spillane, Frank Casey, Derry Barrett, Joe O Riordan, Dan Horgan, Bobby Duggan, Eddie Mullins, Owen McCarthy, Frank Hayes, Nickey Hayes, and, in later years, John Spillane, Barry Dineen, Freddie Kendellen, Declan Maye, Mick Farrell, Jerry Mc Grath, Tom Spillane, Billy Falvey, Pat Kelly, Mick Aherne, Eddie McGough, Tony (Mr Football) Hennessey.”

Gosh, Pat, what a memory. We’ll be back to you for yet more!

Does any of this spur your own memories? Send us your recollections to jokerrigan1@ or comment on Facebook at

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