Time travellers — 19 Comments

  1. My thoughts entirely. 

    I often tell my son, (21) about how it used to be before we were over-civilised. Cork was a filthy pit back then, dark, wet, dirty and gloomy most of the time. But it had a safe and happy feeling. I remember the sights and smells when walking into the "Swan & Signet" on Patricks Street with Rory Gallagher more often than not, sitting brooding over a pint of Beamish in the corner.

    The town was full of odd characters that everybody knew from "Andy Ga" to "Whacker Keenan. No-one had much money but what you could afford tasted real. Milk was rich and creamy and chicken tasted like fucking chicken. There were six dingy pubs down one of the quays, all with a style and character of their own. They're all gone now and a big senseless shopping-centre sprawls the length of that quay.

    Of course, we used to be a society back then.

    • The kids selling newspapers on the streets – "HeraldorMailorPress".  Now it's all foreigners flogging The Big Issue or whatever by shoving it in your face.

      And the smell of bread!  That was when bread tasted like bread and not expanded polystyrene foam, and had a good crackly crust on it.

    • My memory does not go back to the fifties but of the seventies, I might accept the dirty moniker but it was no more dark or wet than now.

      There is a photo in Dan Lowrey's of Merchant's Quay before they left the building fall into disrepair before being demolished to make way for Merchants Quay – if there were to be an opposite of Protected Structured List, Merchants Quay would be high on my list of buildings that would improve the city by their removal.

      I was told recently that a sign from the Swan & Cygnet is on display in Reidy's Wine Vaults on Western Road but I haven't gone looking for it yet.

  2. Well I cannot remember the fifties, on account of being born in 1960, however I too hand fond memories of the industrial, grotty, busy, piss poor town of my youth where a sixpence felt like a lot. Ships and submarines were being built in t'yard. The docks were being broken up and were full of grain carriers, laid up WWII warships, Manx steamers with steam and diesel trains rushing hither and thither spewing fumes, smoke and crap.

    But as you chaps have pointed out life felt good. Unlike today. The shipyard is still producing a submarine every three or four years (but bugger all else) but now they are built in a shed not on a slipway so no dramatic launches), the docks are empty. Industry has been replaced with sheds masquerading as shops and the morons in the council call it progress…

    • There are those who will point out that this is retrospection through rose-tinted glasses.  Times were a lot harder.  There was more poverty and disease.  But I still maintain that society has lost its soul and its sense of community.  Now everyone is out for what they can get and the devil take the hindmost.

  3. Last Saturday I was sitting outside at a coffee shop… No smoking in a coffee shop!  Now what kind of sense does that make?  FFS, there is a reason it's called coffee and cigarettes.  But I digress.  We were sitting outside of St. Thomas Roasters in downtown Linglestown and we could hardly converse because of the traffic on Linglestown road.  I was lamenting to my 28 year old friend how this town was a sleepy little out of the way town when I was her age and how it is now in the middle of the 'Burbs.  I was telling her how the town square was just that a town square with a flag pole in the middle of it that you had to drive around.  Today it's a great big roundabout with the flag pole and a monument and bunch of houses misssing from around what use to be a town square.  I liked things better then.  I was making $1.75 an hour and had plenty of money to get by.  I had a reliable little Fiat that I could work on because it was so simple in it's design and build and a Honda motorbike that got me around in sunshine and in rain.

    OK, ok I'll get off my soapbox now.

    • Think of this place as more of a park bench under a shady tree in the park.  All us auld fellas can sit there reminiscing about the past while the mad world passes us by.

  4. And I'll bet there weren't any self service aisles in the shops then either… A time when the shopkeeper would know all of his his stock, and didn't need a computer to tell him the part number, or where it was. A time when my local car dealer had Microfiches of all the models they supplied, which you could study, point to the screen, and say "I want THAT bit".

    • And in those days you could fix something by replacing a component, instead of having to buy a whole new unit.

  5. I won't get nostalgic about Brendan Behan puking on the street outside McDaid's off Grafton Street. I do regret the disappearance of the small buyer-friendly Eblana Bookshop. In its window one saw new novels and new poetry books on display beside science manuals and volumes with titles like How to Chat Up a Girl. (The latter seemed to disappear faster than the poetry books. Didn't any fellows chat up girls with poetry readings?) The other human establishment was The Grafton News & Cartoon Cinema. If you were at your bottom dollar it was a cheap place to while away a few hours, viewing a few times the same Tweety & Silvester cartoons and Ahmarc Eireann newsreels with English subtitles produced by Gael Linn. On Friday and Saturday nights, at 11 p.m. the cinema hosted songs by ballad players, and admission was at moderate rates. They didn't mind if you brought your own chocolate bars and popcorn. Downside was that the culture-loving audiences left a pile of rubbish behind after the performance. We were scruffy then boy. We're scruffy still in many ways.

    • Hah!  The Grafton News and Cartoon Cinema was one of my favorite haunts.  Many's the happy afternoon I wasted in there with a nice bag of creamy toffees.  If I remember correctly the toffees probably cost more than the cinema ticket!

  6. Bear with me, it's relevant…

    I met my musical idol of 30yrs* one night after he did a poetry reading, and he asked me to suggest a pub to retire to after the gig. I bored the arse off him by whinging about how pubs aren't like they used to be, and took him all the way from Trinity College to Doyle's on College Green.

    In retrospect, I could've done a lot worse, but seriously…

    I had so many questions, and I talked about pubs not being like they used to be.

    Just sayin'…Nostalgia isn't like it used to be back in our day.


    Also, Bushmill's triple distilled is only €18.99 right now in Lidl.

    * Mark E Smith. (Nevermind, I understand if you never heard of him)

    • You're right.  Never heard of him! 

      In my later years most of my pub going in the city was confined to O'Donoghue's, Slattery's, The Lincoln, and Mulligan's [of course].  I used to play a drop of music myself which sort of influenced my watering-holes.  Those were the days you could get hammered for less than a fiver.

  7. England had its dark side, too.  My first job was to build three bicycle wheels in less than an hour for two shillings.  We had a small, old pot belly stove which we had to feed with lumps of (stolen) coal or bits of scavenged branches to try to keep warm.  But plaice and chips at the local was 10 shillings & 6 old pence, pint of good cider 6 pence, and petrol 3 shillings and six pence for five star.  Compare income to expenditure.

    Happy memories.

    • Sorry, haven't a clue how to convert my (still) money thinking into Euros.  Good luck to the maths. experts.

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