WE knew a great many of you would have at least one picture tucked away in the family album of a day in Patrick Street in the past when the photographer caught you on film - but we were surprised and delighted to receive so many in response to last week’s Throwback Thursday.
Rita O’Donoghue (nee McCarthy) was one of the first to write in, with not just one, but three wonderful images.
“I have just been reading with great interest your article in the Echo on photos taken in Patrick Street in the 1940s and ’50s. I have attached a photo of my late father Patrick McCarthy as he drove the last horse and cart for CIE through Patrick Street and, shortly after, a photo of my dad and my mother Rita walking in Patrick Street. The third photo is of my grandfather, Alfred Owens, with my older sister Eileen McCarthy (now Eileen Butchers).
I hope this is something you may have been looking for.”
Well it was indeed, Rita, and what a joy it was to see these.
CIE used horses for the last time in 1967 (and Thompson’s around the same time), ending an era and also changing so much in our lives. Not only were those magnificent beasts no longer to be seen clip clopping up and down our streets on their feathery-framed hooves, decorative brasses tinkling and sparkling on their harness, but suddenly the iconic water troughs sited strategically around the city were no longer needed, nor the stables behind CIE and on the quays. And what, one wonders, happened to all those skilled drivers like Patrick McCarthy, not to mention the stable hands?
Working on machines would never be the same as hissing gently while rubbing down a huge, friendly Clydesdale and giving him a pat on the neck before filling his hayrack.
Outside that central core, the work for suppliers of feed and straw, and of course the several manufacturers and repairers of harnesses, like Day’s, and McNally’s of Bowling Green Street (where you could buy those lovely decorative horse brasses), must have had their workload halved instantly.
Well, Patrick looked cheerful enough in the picture sent by his daughter of him walking through our main thoroughfare with his wife shortly after hoof-power was replaced by - funnily enough - what we now call horsepower!
Although that picture does look a little earlier than 1967, now that we examine it more closely. Perhaps late 1950s? What do you think, Rita?
The last photo Rita sent is a delightful one of a careful grandfather taking a beloved granddaughter, Eileen, for a walk ‘down Pana’.
And still more pictures come in! John O’Sullivan wrote to us all the way from Nova Scotia, where, he says, he follows this Echo column avidly.
“In fact it has become my weekly Holly Bough!”
Well that is good to know, John.
“Your recent column on street photography on Patrick Street,” he continues, “brought to mind a couple of street shots taken 70 years apart of me and my mother’s first cousin Tess.
“About 20 years ago, I received a photo from this lady of her, my twin brother Brian and me, taken in Patrick’s Street many years ago. I contacted her on one of my visits home and it became a regular get-together on my subsequent visits.
“It turned out she was babysitting us twins when the photo was taken. Now that I think about it, that would have been in the winter of 1944, as in April that year, tragically my brother died, having contracted tetanus from a thorn in the finger.
“Well, in 2014, Tess and I had our photo taken in Patrick Street again, 70 years later. Sadly, Tess died this past December at the age of 95.”
Now that’s marvellous - to have the picture taken in the same location seven decades later! How much water had flowed under Patrick’s Bridge in between, how many events occurred and passed by? Old photographs awaken so many memories.
Fintan Bloss sent us an excellent picture of the same location, and, what’s more, gave the most detailed information not only of his mother, but of her two charges, and even the two women seen behind them in the shot! How many can do that?
“This is of my late mother Mary Bloss, née Buckley, on Patrick Street in the early 1950s with her two McPaul nieces, Gracie on the left and Ursula on right. They were from Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath. The lady behind in the black hat is my mother’s mother Sarah Ann Buckley (née Innes) and on the right of my grandmother is my mother’s friend Nellie Murphy, who later married Pat Doyle and lived in Raheny, Co Dublin. She was a life-long member of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association.”
Fintan adds: “Gracie McPaul still lives in Kilbeggan in the family home, and her sister, Ursula Shiel, lives in Monasterevin, Co Kildare. My mother’s sister, Breda, had married Barney McPaul who was in the 1st Irish Guards. He was stationed in Blarney Street when he met Breda, but was later transferred to Kilbeggan.
More power to your memory, Fintan (and perhaps to whoever else in your family not only maintained the family photo album, but took the time to write details on the back of pictures for the guidance of future generations).
Fintan also sent us a rare early image, probably mid to late 19th century, all the more unusual, not only for its survival, but because it is taken ‘on location’ as it were, at a time when almost all portraits were done in a studio with a carefully-created background.
The lady sitting on the steps at 8, North Mall is, Fintan tells us, one Kate Davis. He knows no more about her, except that the picture was in the family collection, with the lady’s name carefully written on the back. The only other information he can supply is that the back of the photograph is stamped with Rembrandt Photo Studio, 27, North Main Street, Cork.
“This must have been taken a long time ago,” adds Fintan. It must indeed, and we have been examining this rare survival under magnifying glasses to learn anything else possible. Her clothes - long skirt, print blouse with full sleeves - certainly suggest mid-to-late 19th century - and is that a ‘mutch’ or bonnet on her head, or just white hair? She is sitting on a cloth or rug, which would probably be advisable, given the length of time it took back then to capture an image on the photographic equipment of the time.
"Those stone steps on the North Mall could be very cold, as many a child of the 1950s will aver!
Any clues or suggestions on this photo and the woman would be welcomed. Why was it taken there and not in a studio? Who was Kate Davis? Was she a resident of No. 8, or perhaps a maid or cleaner? Why was it taken at all?
And why is it in the Bloss family collection?
“Not sure really,” says Fintan. “We just had the photo over the years, among my mother and grandparents’ collection. It’s definitely No 8 North Mall, as the steps are still recognisable today No.8 was called Dun Laoi at one stage, and a a lot of different activities took place there. I checked the 1901 and 1911 census but could not trace her.”
Dun Laoi? Now that rings a bell. Ring anybody else’s? Let us know. Or send any thoughts you have on this or any topic from the good old days. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/echolivecork.