Memories of Shannonbridge

By Frank Belton

From California's Queen by the Golden Gate

My thoughts go back to home;

Where my happiest childhood days were spent

Beside old Shannon's shore.

Methinks I hear the rustling waves

As they break upon the strand;

I can see the grey old tower

Above its waters stand.

And in the distance Clonmacnoise

Round pillars raised on high

Guarding the memory of the dead

Of heroic days gone by.

The old school house 'neath Price's Hill

With its genial Master Lane

Moulding the minds of our youthful days

With stern though gentle mien.

High upon the Sally Port,

Potts Island comes into view;

The Beachnut Grove, the Magazine

The Barrana all in hue.

And Lacks, the gathering place of mirth

On a summer's afternoon;

To fish and swim and play the games

of youth that's fled too soon.

The handball court, where rivals met

To test their manly skill;

I can hear their cheers and laughter

Though many a voice is still.

The lordly Shannon still flows on

Thru valley, glen and dale;

And the whitecrest waves still seem to sing

The songs of Granuaile.

And now my reminiscence o'er

But thoughts will come again;

Of that lovely Isle of Ireland

And my home town, Shannonbridge.

MEMORIES OF THE LATE MIKE MERRIGAN

As you can see I collected these from Patrick Kenny some time ago. Hopefully they can be added to as people remember the wit of Mike Merrigan who lived in Moore. A recent addition came from Johnny Flannery the runner. Mike and his brother Tom were frying rashers and eggs one Friday morning when a strange priest came to the door seeking directions. Smelling the fry the priest commented on how angry The Lord will be for eating meat on a Friday. "Ah sure we will give him a day again" said Mike.

 Patrick Kenny was here last night talking about the quick wit of the late Mike Merrigan who usually started his remark with Jay.They sound better when Patrick is telling them so you will have to use your imagination a bit. Mike Merrigan was in his prime from the late forties to the sixties.

Mike's belief was Never laugh at a man Laugh with him.

Mike got a lift home from the town in one of the first cars in the area. A cousin of the driver was also in the car and suggested to Mike that they should give something for the lift. Jay no says Mike Mister N is not that type of man.

At the time of the Rural Electrification in the early fifties the local Parish Priest was encouraging everyone to get the electric.Mike did not get connected and in the spring he was due for the Stations.When the priest arrived for the Mass in Mike's house he remarked "Tell me Mike did you not get the electric? Jay to tell you the truth Father we had no right room for it.

"Jay summer is landed " says Mike "Peters black man is home" This was a reference to a young student for the priesthood being home for the summer holidays.

A new curate came to the parish and one evening the Parish Priest saw Mike coming up the road.The priest suggested to the curate that if he went out in mufti he would enjoy Mike. The curate went out and met Mike and asked him "Are you from around here"? "Jay I am " says Mike. "Are you a Catholic" "Jay I am" says Mike. "Do you know your catechism" "Jay I do" says Mike. "What is Baptism" says the curate. "Jay it was a half crown" says Mike "but we got a new curate and he rose it to five shillings".

The local pig fair was held on the main street in Ballinasloe and the farmers brought their pigs along in horse carts.One of the pig jobbers had a very bad cast in his eye and walked straight into Mike when they met on the street. "Cant you look where your walking"said the pig jobber. "Jay cant you walk where your looking" says Mike.

Mike's Vet liked to visit Mike and he often took a gun along to try and shoot a pheasant. One day the Vet rose a pheasant in Mike's pasture and Bang Bang he fired two shots and the pheasant flew away. "Guess I gave him a few grains" says the vet to Mike. "Jay you did" says Mike "but he is gone with them".

It was the time when solid fuel ranges had arrived and a neighbour was telling Mike about how a marvellous invention they were. "Do you know" says the neighbour "but you don't need only half the fuel" "Jay" says Mike "weren't you an eejit that didn't get two of them so". Mike's brother was sick and was in hospital in Dublin.A rumour went around that he was dead.The man with the travelling shop lived in Athlone,heard the rumour and bought a Mass Card to give to Mike.Then on his round he heard that he was not dead.When he arrived at Mike's house he told Mike the mistake that had happened and gave Mike the card. "Jay it's not much use now"says Mike "would there be any chance of exchanging it for a couple of loaves.

Mike was unable to get to Dublin to see his brother in hospital.A neighbour used to bring carrots to the Dublin market every week so Mike asked him if he would bring a small parcel up to the brother.The neighbour agreed and took the badly parcelled parcel.He decided to repack it and make it a bit more presentable to bring into the hospital.When he opened the parcel he found all it contained was a waistcoat.

The stand up Circus arrived in the locality in April.There were no seats just a tent and a Ring Mike and his neighbouring farmers made their way on foot to the circus the entire conversation seemed to be about the scarcity of hay and where one might get some extra. At the Circus a lovely blonde haired lassie came out to ride a pony.She jumped onto the pony and fell off the other side.The Circus Master came out and put her up on the pony again.She went one round and fell off. Again the Circus Master loaded her into the saddle.This time the pony started to trot and she stood up on the pony's back and threw off her cardigan and did some tricks as she trotted around.There was dead silence as everyone watched. "Jay" says Mike "wouldn't that make you forget that your short of hay"

Mike and another neighbour had the job every year of clamping the Priest's turf.Every farmer brought a load.The other man was thinking about getting married and the Priest told him jokingly that Mike and himself were going up to walk the farm on Tuesday evening.(this was a common practice for the Bride's family to do.) " If I'm at home you'll run the most of it." says the other man.

That same neighbour did get married and some years later the mother-in-law got sick and came to live with them.The good neighbours took it in turns to stay up with the sick woman during the night and as was the custom they got a few bottles of Guinness and in the morning a breakfast of rashers and eggs. At the same time the farmer had bought ten ewes and they were rotten with fluke.One by one they died until only one remained.One morning the farmer had the ewe caught and was trying to feed her with gruel when Mike came along and saw but ignored. "Good morning" says Mike "and how is the old woman this morning"? "Not too bad" replied the farmer. "Jay isn't there great lasting in the poor cratur". "There is "replied the farmer "better lasting than in those bloody ewes.

It was horse ploughing years and Mike's neighbour was buying a year and a half at the Horse Fair in Ballinasloe. He was doing all the usual tests on the horse when Mike happened along. "Tell us Mike" says the neighbour "would he mind if he got his leg outside of the chain"? "Jay I don't know, we always yoke them inside the chains." .

Contributed by: Derry Killeen

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