Jerry Savage, who died on 22 March 2014, , lived a full and happy life of eighty seven years mostly in Ballymacelligott with a spell working in London in the 1950s. It is a memoir well worth reading and if you are from Ballymac and neighbouring locations, it is a must. Jerry was involved in all aspects of local North Kerry life – sport, greyhounds, politics. I know it will bring back memories to a lot of people. This memoir was dictated by Jerry to his daughter Carmel Sheehan. I would like to thank the wider Savage family for sharing.
Jerry Savage April 25, 2012
I was born on 4th December 1927, the youngest of five children of Maurice Savage and Elizabeth Tuomey. Mary RIP (1922), Kitty RIP (1924), Peggy (1925) and John RIP (1926).
That decade of the twenties was a severe time to rear a family. The War of Independence was being fought after the Easter Week Rising, followed by the Civil War in 1922 and 1923.
My parents had a small farm and grew crops of potatoes, oats, wheat and saved some hay. They had about eight cows and a horse, not a great living. My father worked part time in Kilquane Creamery during some months of the year. My mother helped with milking the cows as well as the housework and seeing after the family. She also made the clothes and knitted the socks for us all. Most of the food was in the garden. We grew up in a happy home in the light of the lamp in the kitchen.
We went to school in O’Brennan National School. It was built in 1888 with two rooms and no toilets. It had four teachers: Paddy Lynch and Mrs. Lynch in one classroom and Mrs. Dowling and Mrs. Reidy in the other classroom. They were good to the pupils in their classes. We walked to school every day. I was the last to go to Infants. I was only over four years but the numbers were low and a teacher would have been lost so I went into Infants class.
On our way to school we went across the field for part of the journey. We met up with other children on the road to the school and enjoyed the road home. We saw many interesting places on the way. The local carpenter worked in his shed making carts and wheels for the horses as well as carpentry work. The blacksmith worked in his forge shoeing the horses and we often called in to see him making the iron shoes and putting them on the horses. There were the remains of two creameries on the Kilquane Road, now out of use. There was another creamery built in Ballydwyer where most of the farmers took their milk.
There was about 100 pupils in O’Brennan School then, about 18 in my class. There are not many of my class mates left now; Dermot Leen, Ballincullig and I are the only ones left that I know of from that class.
We played lots of games at play hours; handball and football in Costello’s field and on the road. There was very few cars then. We were taught local history and the geography of the locality. The name of the school came from the cave nearby where Saint Brendan was said to have stayed for some time. Also close by was McElligotts Jail where landlords kept some of the tenants if they did not pay their rents.
There was no piped water in the school. Some pupils would go to Dorgan’s well for a bucket of water every day. We had no heating system, only a turf fire. The parents had to bring a horse load of turf to heat the school during the winter. What a different school now to what we had – a brand new school built this year 2012. We respected our teachers always and many great scholars came out of that school. Many became priests, others went to the civil service, joined the convent or went nursing and many thanks to the teachers who taught us.
I recall my youthful happy days. I suppose my First Holy Communion was an important step at seven years of age. It was in Balymacelligott Church and that was different to the present day. After the sacrament was over we came home for the breakfast, there was no hotels then, we then went to Tralee on the pony and trap. We had an ice-cream and were taken to the green, simple but a happy day. Later I became an altar boy and served for a couple of years. Next was my confirmation, learning Catholicism was hard in case you missed a question the Bishop would ask you. A suit would be got for the occasion and the first long pants would be worn and the day was a normal day at home. A mission would be held in the month of May in the parish, one week for the men and one for the women. The attraction for us then was the stall selling rosary beads, holy pictures and religious objects.
The other important events were the stations; these were held in the Spring and the Autumn. Mass would be held in the house and all the neighbours would attend. Breakfast would be provided and many women helped in the kitchen. It was important that after mass the priest would be served first along with some of the men. When the Priest collected his dues he bid good day and the people relaxed then and had a glass of wine, Nash’s lemonade or a bottle of stout for the men. We would have a day off from school. In the weeks before the Stations every place was white washed with lime; the men generally did the outside and the women painted inside. Sometimes it would only finish the day before and if you were leaning near the dresser or glass case you could have a green or brown patch on your coat going home!
When our national school term was drawing to a close and we were to be going to school in Tralee, the Council Scholarship was held then and I was called from my class to contest it. I did reasonably well and I entered the Central Technical School in Moyderwell where you could learn lots of trades. It was a chance to do practical work; electrical, mechanical, carpentry etc.
Helping on the farm
Growing up at home in our school days we helped at home on the farm. We were never bored. In winter time we helped tend the cows and horse and clean out the stalls. We also learned to milk the cows. In the springtime we helped to set the potatoes and sow the oats and other crops. In summer time we helped to save the hay and then draw it to the shed. The oats and wheat were cut and saved in August and threshed in September. That was the day we loved the most and a lot of the neighbours, called a ‘meitheal’ came to help on the day and we had a day off school. We also cut and saved the turf. It was hard work and we travelled eight miles on a horse and cart to do it. We also drew it home on a horse and cart. There were no oil fires then but all these jobs prepared us for our experiences later in life.
Starting school in Tralee Technical School was an experience. We had to cycle five miles to and from school, in winter and summer, rain or shine but we got used to it. We made new friends and we took on new lessons to learn new subjects. After two years I was selected as an apprentice to a garage in Rock Street in Tralee in 1942. Motor cars were scarce then. There were only lorries and tractors. The hackney men, teachers, doctors and parish priests had cars.
The greatest event of all was Christmas; everybody would look forward to it for weeks. Mother and Father usually had a special day to do the Christmas shopping; they usually arrived home with a full tea chest and three or four big candles for the windows. All the painting would be ready and we hung our stockings on the crane over the fire place for Santa Claus to give us something. It was great that morning; going to early mass and all the candles would be lighting on the neighbour’s windows. After we came home from mass for a great breakfast and had jelly and corn-flour for afters. It was a great day and the neighbours came to wish all a Happy Christmas. On St Stephen’s Day we would go on the Wren and sing a few songs and collect from the houses, it was a long day but we enjoyed it with Christmas cake and lemonade. How times have changed. I got a football one Christmas from my Dad, Sean and I played on the field next door and we never stopped. Every evening when the day’s work was done….there was no gym then.
1943 – a sad year for our family
In 1942 my sister, Kit, was working in Kerry County Council but she joined the convent in Cork with an Order of Sisters of the Poor. 1943 was a very sad year for our family as, our mother, who had been sick for a couple of months, died in February of that year. I was only 16 years then; it was a sad time to lose a mother. She was a great person, may God reward her. She often helped the neighbours when a new baby was born. Also, when a neighbour died she would prepare the body for burial. At that time twelve months mourning was the norm and no family members attended dances for that year.
My father and Mary took over the responsibilities of the home then and life had to go on. Mary herself was suffering from a heart problem and could not work like the rest of the family. It would now be known as ‘hole in the heart’, I think. But she could so the housework and also carried on the work of knitting the jumpers and socks. In September 1943, Mary died suddenly, God rest her. We were all terribly shocked and sad. She was a great person to say her prayers and attended mass as often as she could.
The saddest thing was that our sister Kit, was not allowed out of the convent to attend her mother’s or her sister’s funerals but we had to accept that. It was the way then. I don’t think that would happen now thank God. After that my sister, Peg, went to work in England as work was scarce in Tralee. I had to take on the job of baking the bread which I could do from watching Mary and my mother. John (Sean), my brother, was working with a neighbour at the time so dad and I carried on but John always helped at cutting the turf as he was a great man to do that work. Groves Quarry in Ballymac was leased to O’Connor from Killarney and two lime kilns were used to burn lime for farmers and lime for the building trade. Six men were employed quarrying stones and breaking them and filling both kilns with turf and stones and drawing out the lime at the mouth of the kiln. It was filled into lorries and taken to Killarney. It was work for the locals and they kept it going for four years. I got a job there. Pay was £2.50 per week, equal to €3 now. But things were cheap in those days, a pint of Guinness cost 10pence, 3 pints for 2/6d or 8 for £1.00…those were the days.
Ballymacelligott Football Club & Handball Club
A great event happened in 1945 in the parish. A meeting was called to form a football club
in the parish. There had not been a club in the parish since 1918. The Civil War caused a lot of differences in the parish and in the meantime players played football in Castleisland, Tralee and elsewhere. When I was working in Tralee I played minor football with Clash Minors in the Boherbue League. I also played with Boherbue Minors in the Tralee League. Paul Barry and M. Quinlan also played. I saw my first Kerry Match in Tralee in 1934. Kerry played Dublin in the semi-final. It was the last of the four-in-a-row but we were beaten on the day. We travelled by horse and car that day. To record the meeting and elect officers on that night in February 1945 it was held in the manager’s house in
Ballydwyer which is now the Post Office. Chairman Jack McEllistrim, Vicechair Paddy Baily Snr, Rathanny, Secretary Seamus O’Connor NT Clogher, Treasurer John O’Leary shop Ballydwyer. Committee from O’Breannan, Ahane, Gortatlea, Clogher, and Kielduff, five teams in the Parish League.
The GAA in the parish having got the football club established again and a new project was mentioned. We got a new Curate to help Fr. O’Donoghue the parish priest. Having observed some of the locals playing handball off the walls of the creamery with only a gravel floor and having been an athlete himself in his younger days, he realised that a proper handball court would be good for the youth of the district. He nominated a greyhound to win the Irish Cup in Limerick and having brought the cup to Ballymac a big bonfire was lit by George Groves of the quarry to honour the occasion. Fr. Denis Griffin called to George on the following day with a bottle of Paddy as we were working near the house and they called us to share the event. Following that the seed was sown and a couple of us were invited to help in the building of the handball court.
I remember a mission came to church that May and the Chapel was quite close to where we worked. Fr. Griffin called on me to go with him to the site on Jimmy Macs field where the handball court was going to be built. I remember handing the shovel to the priest to cut the first sod of the foundation and so a hard job of work had begun. We had no mixers then only shovels. There was a great community spirit in the parish to carry out the work. Five nights a week men came to dig the foundation, mix concrete by the shovel and put up the shutters. Fr. O’Donoghue got Mick Falvey who was a builder in the parish, to oversee the work. He also held a collection at the creamery where the farmers brought their milk every day, which helped to buy the materials that were needed. And so progress was made and thanks to all those who gave the time in building. The result was a fine court that produced many All Ireland Champions and still does to this day. Thanks to Fr. Griffin and all those of all ages who in later years continued the work that commenced that May evening. There are now two handball courts and they are still in use by the youth today.
In the late forties a historical meeting was called at the home of John Joe Sheehy. Many Republicans in Kerry attended. I attended with my brother Sean.
May Dálaigh of Knockaneacoolteen,was present and many others who are long gone now and the purpose was to erect a monument to the men who died at Ballyseedy, killed by a mine placed there by the Free State Forces. It was decided that a proper monument would be placed on the spot as a tribute to the eight men who gave their lives on the 6th of March in 1923. Many Kerry people all over the world sent contributions to help in funding the Memorial. I was secretary to a committee formed in London later in 1952 for the same purpose. The architect was selected, Uinsean McKeown, from Tyrone who was released from prison in the North and a well known sculptor Renard Goulet from Brittany in Europe. FitzGerald’s Builders got the contract to do the building and it was ready for the commemoration to take place on the 30th of August 1959.
May Dálaigh unveiled it. The oration was given by Sean O’Dubhda and John Joe Sheehy chaired. It was estimated that almost 30,000 people attended on the day. Trains came from Dublin and many towns and everyone marched from Tralee to the Memorial. A big contingent of Kerry republicans flew in from America and made lots of contributions, it was a historic day in Ballymac. One of those executed at Ballyseedy Cross was a son of my granduncle, Jer Tuomey of Kilflynn. I am proud to be his relation. He and George O’Shea and Timmy Tuomey are buried in Kilflynn.
World War and change
In September of 1939 the Second World War was declared by Germany on Poland and terrible destruction was brought on Poland. England eventually joined in the war against Germany. Armies were engaged all over Europe; bombs were dropped from planes in the sky and the war continued for six years.
The USA entered later and brought it to a close. Hitler of Germany nearly destroyed Europe. Ireland stayed neutral and kept out of the war to protect our people. Food became scarce and ration books were given to every family, there was no tea or sugar and farmers had to grow wheat and send it on to Ranks of Limerick to make bread. There was no coal or oil and turf became important to keep hospitals working and for bakers to bake bread. Some shop keepers sold some foodstuffs at black-market prices and poor people suffered most. Neighbours helped each other as they always did, the ration books were no longer used after 1947 and the people were delighted.
Many people went to America in the late ‘40’s. As planes began to fly the Atlantic and if relatives would claim them and get work for them, Irish people went to the USA. England was looking for workers to build up the country after all the bombing and destruction. Work was scarce in Ireland then and having no jobs or employment Irish workers had to take the boats to earn a living. . Some of the wages they earned were sent back to help those left at home and this was much appreciated when First Holy Communion, Confirmation, sickness or other events occurred within the family. When my work in the quarry came to an end emigration was the only way to get a job. In 1952 I joined the emigrant ship.
Life in London
And so the day came when the boat was waiting. In 1951 my sister Kit had been home for Christmas from England. I decided I would go back with her on the 10th of January, I still remember it. I was the secretary of the O’Brennan football team and the players organised a party, a great- but sad- night.
I remember leaving Tralee Railway station at 9.30 on Saturday morning and all the people were leaving and going to England. Fathers were leaving families, children were crying and, others were lonesome. We are back to it now again after 60 years.
We got to Mallow and crowds were waiting. We went on to Cork, Dungarvan and Waterford. The train was full by the time we arrived in Rosslare and many of the men were drowning their sorrows, going back after the Christmas holidays.
We arrived in Rosslare in Wexford on a cold winters evening. We went on board the boat and set off for England arriving in Fishguard, Wales on Saturday night. I still see the rock on the harbour where we landed; it was not a nice spot. We went through customs and our cases were checked by the security and then we were allowed on the train for London. It was a long journey then, only steam trains, we went through Wales and England. About eight hours later it was 12 o’clock and we arrived in Kilburn, just before last mass. It was a strange place to us then but we got used to it. My sister Kit had a flat with four other women, one of whom was Madge Lynch from Ballymac who made us quite welcome and at home. I stayed upstairs in the same house, in lodgings with some others from the West of Ireland. The food was not great, it was still rationed six years after the war but we survived.
On Monday I had to get work and on Tuesday a cousin of mine got me a job with a builder he was working with. I met him on the tube train on Tuesday morning at 7 o’clock, a big change from home to start, but that was life there. Three weeks later I got better digs, run by a Tipperary woman. Thomas Doran had stayed there but he got married to Madge Lynch and I took his place, the food was better there too. We went to the wedding and had a great day. I was the barman and had to see after all the guests as I was not drinking alcohol. The man of the hotel was Eamonn O’Connor from Maugha (Lyreacrompane) so it was a real Kerry wedding and helped us settle into our new life. Later that year John Byrne from Kilflynn opened a hall in Cricklewood and it was called the Galtymore. It was a great meeting place for the Irish and was an instant success. Great music and many guest artists appeared there. Josef Locke regularly played and many charity events were held here. We lived quite close to it and we could walk from Willesden Gardens to the Galtymore and home again, no taxis!
The GAA was very strong in London as emigration was rampant in Ireland. I joined a club in Hammersmith called the Garryowen as my neighbour Dermot Leen played with them and encouraged me to join. There were two brothers from Lixnaw as well – the Joy’s. We won one Championship and were beaten in the final of another. After that Bill Cremins from Ballydonoghue in North Kerry got me to join St. Josephs Football Club in St. Albans outside London. It was mostly Kerry players and the Secretary of the Club was Johnny O’Connor from Caherciveen. We worked together and he is still in Caherciveen. I played with the club until I returned to Ireland and they became the Kingdom Club that won six County Championships in London. But they never equalled all Kerrymen! The GAA was great to all the Irish there and helped with jobs. If anybody needed a helping hand they gave it.
In 1953 another great organisation was established, it was called the Kerry Association. Its first Chairman was Fr. Doherty who was Parish Priest, Mick Walsh who was from Currow was Vice Chairman and Secretary was Maureen O’Donovan from Glenbeigh. Treasurer was John O’Connor from Abbeydorney. Dr. Mick Brosnan, a brother of the great Con from Moyvane had his surgery down in Grenwich, he was also my Doctor. There were many other doctors and graduates in London then and many joined the meetings which were held in the Irish Club in Eaton Square and you had to be signed in if you were not a member. The purpose was to collect funds for various events. Many dances were held in Irish dancehalls to fundraise money to build a hostel for young people coming from Ireland with very little money. The Casey’s from Sneem, a famous family, Steve was a World Champion wrestler in the 40’s, John Byrne of Kilflynn gave us the Galtymore; as well as his neighbour Bill Fuller gave us his hall in Camden Town. Many others helped out too and we left the churches on Sunday morning we advertised the dates and times of the events. It wasn’t just the Kerry community people from many other counties also supported. It was my job to organise the various helpers, doormen, security and bands. They turned out to be a huge success and when the finance was raised a hostel was built in Harlesden in West London. It was a home from home for the first couple of weeks for many an Irish emigrant before they got on their feet.
On Saint Patricks Day the association took on the Kerry banner and all Kerry people in London took part in the parade from Whitehall to West Minster Cathedral where our Chairman said a few words ‘As Gaeilge’. People had come from Ireland to join in on the day. Paddy Whitty, a former Kerry full back, had a hotel nearby and we had a real Irish singsong, the great Sean Mooney joined us as well, as was the custom to honour our patron saint.
In 1953 Kerry were in the All Ireland final and were meeting Armagh for the first time. The association were anxious to go back for it and tried to get a plane at a reasonable price but Aer Lingus would not oblige. We took the train from Paddington Station on Saturday night leaving London at 9pm and travelling through the night to Holyhead to get a boat to Dun Laoghaire. We arrived at 8am, talk about the ‘Ghost Train’. We had to start queuing to get in to Croke Park at 11am as there were no tickets on sale in London. There were nearly 90,000 people there to see Kerry win the match. What a day! Off back to the boat then on Sunday evening, some long journey but we were in good form after the win and having met some of the players in the Shakespeare Pub, a great Kerry meeting place. One of our lads brought his accordion across with him so the journey home was very merry!! One of the lads on the boat with us was that great Gael from Lixnaw, Jerry Keane who played with Parnell Club and two of the Brosnan’s from Currow.
Home again … and marriage
We came home on holidays to Ballymac again in 1954 as my sister Peg was building her house next to our home house; we stayed for a month that time. Kit’s husband Hugh Brown and I worked for Robert McAlpine at the time. Hugh was the general foreman. I suppose the biggest event in my life was coming up when I first came back on holidays, Maureen, who later became my wife came back to England with me. She stayed with my sister Kit in London, got a job in Smiths Clocks and Watches in the office and stayed until June 1957. We then returned to Ireland where we raised our family of five. Our eldest is Brendan born in April 1958, Elizabeth born in August 1959, Carmel in April 1962, Brian in July 1965 and Kevin in December 1970. They are all healthy and working thank God. After we returned I took on farming for a few years but prices were not great so in 1962 I took on a job in Tralee at O’Sullivan’s Furniture in Rock Street. It was only £6 per week then but as times got better, wages got better.
Houses were becoming more modern and people were having floor covering installed in kitchens by way of lino. People began to live a better quality of life and the horse and car was vanishing in the countryside.
In 1966 my brother Sean and I left O’Sullivan’s and went to work in Gleasure’s in Rock Street; a new Furniture and Floorcovering Store to, it was again in Rock Street. Contract floorcovering was coming very much into public buildings. I still remember the first flooring contract we got was St. Mary of the Angels in Beaufort. It is home to special needs children and what a life they gave those children, the care help and education they get was second to none. We won many more flooring contracts outside of Kerry such as all Woolworth Stores in the 26 counties which we would complete by working weekends and getting home on Sunday. Many new schools would use floorcovering as many of them were built years by then. Kerry General Hospital was built in 1980 and the entire floors were covered in over 12 months. It was quite a big contract to get in our own town. Following that we made progress with the now University of Limerick also the General Hospital in Cavan had to be covered in lino and carpets. This was a long journey every Monday morning also other works in private and public contractors. That was the type of work that kept me working until I retired in 1999.
Getting involved in the GAA in the parish again I was elected Co. Board delegate in
Ballymac Club, only county championship clubs were allowed to have delegates then not like now when all clubs are allowed to have delegates. In 1960 I was elected Chairman of the Ballymac Club. It was a great honour to me as we had a good team competing in Kerry. Sadly we did not have a football field of our own but we leased a field from a farmer as was always done. Grants became available from Munster Council. Peet’s Estate in Arabela came on the market for sale and the land commission eventually bought it. I remember writing to the secretary stating that we would be interested in one field for the parish club. There was about 100 acres in the entire estate.
I got a reply to my application after some weeks saying that our request would get due consideration when the division of the land would take place. The man in charge of it was J Kearney from Clare and Sean, my brother, knew him. Six months later he told us that the field we sought would be allotted to the parish club but to keep it quiet as some people, as usual, were not happy with the amount they got, nothing out of the ordinary for Kerry. As time went by and things got quiet we revealed the good news to the club that they were the owners of the field for the sum of six hundred pounds. It was a great event for the parish, thank God. So it’s fully complete now and a great benefit to the youth of the parish, thanks to all the officials who gave their time and help. Today in the parish we have 2 handball courts and a community hall.
In the late 1950’s Sinn Fein were organising nationwide meetings to be held around the county at church gates, towns, villages, fair days, wherever people gathered and the speakers explained the history of the country.
A county council election was called in 26 counties in 1959. Sinn Fein decided to contest this election so meetings were called and nominations sought from various candidates to contest. I was asked if I would leave my name go forward but I did not as my family were young and it would be a financial burden. As it turned out a great candidate was proposed – Kevin Barry of Rock Street, Tralee was to contest the council seat for Sinn Fein in North Kerry.
In 1959 there were no mobile phones, no TV’s or no local radio stations as there are now so it was up to the Cumain to canvas the locality. I was at a lot of meetings speaking in Tralee, Listowel, Castleisland, Dingle and Knocknagoshel with Kevin Barry and others. Every weekend we were out on the road seeking support. The big parties who had been in power for 30 years were also doing this; the difference being they had plenty of back up financially and otherwise. When the election was over and the votes were counted, our candidate Kevin Barry, headed the poll in North Kerry. He became the first Sinn Fein Councillor in many years, a great victory for the party thank God.
Many commemorations were held those years at Gortnaglanna, Listowel, Clashmealcon, Ballylongford, Derrymore and Castleisland. The speakers were JJ Rice, John Joe Sheehy and Sean Ryan. 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a big commemoration was held in Tralee on Easter Sunday. The chairman was John Joe Sheehy. I was asked to give the oration on that day. The parade left Denny Street and marched to the Republican plot at Rath graveyard and we laid wreaths on the graves of the Republicans who gave their lives in every generation. The parade returned to Denny Street where the meeting was held on a specially erected stand. It was the greatest parade since Charlie Kerins’ funeral. A special concert was held in the Ashe Memorial Hall the same night; it was great to see many of the volunteers from the 30’s and 40’s present for the occasion. It set the scene of events to come.
I was a Republican all my life and I remember it was a terrible time in Northern Ireland from 1969 onwards. Many lives were lost during that period including the Hunger Strike of 1998 when ten brave men gave their lives. I was involved with Sinn Féin and the Republican cause in Kerry during this period which continued until the Good Friday Agreement signed on 10th April 1998
Another part of the GAA that I became involved in was the Kerry GAA Supporters Club which was launched in 1989 in the Earl of Desmond Hotel by the Chairman of the county board and in the presence of Archbishop Dermot Clifford. It had long been spoken of but at last it was set up. The first Chairman of the club was Jerry O’Leary the Vice Chairman was Cormac O’Leary. Donie O’Leary and Denis Reen were treasurers with Eileen Lawlor as Secretary. Some members of the committee were elected on the night and I was one of those.
Transport was high on the list of things to put in place and CIE were approached to seek a deal for transport to the various matches that would take place. It took some time to get going as some people reminded us how many All Irelands that were won before any Club was there but we kept at the work and with a committee of twelve plus officers we were successful.
At the AGM in 1991 I was elected as Chairman, as Jerry O’Leary retired and some the other officers retired as well. Mary Sugrue and Noreen Flaherty were Secretary and Registrar and kept all books in proper order. I got a meeting with CIE to get so many carriages for matches to Cork and elsewhere but it did not prove fruitful. We then approached Paddy Kennedy and he became our principal transport and still is to this day.
I must mention the Vice Chairman, our best supporter and he helped to organise a dog night at Tralee Greyhound Track, Cormac O’Leary.
The reason I retired on 2001 was because a general election was called in 2002 and our Sinn Fein candidate, Martin Ferris, was contesting in North Kerry and all members were asked to give of their time to help in any way they could. I was treasurer for the event as well as canvassing for the votes. But people knew our candidate and supported us. Money had to be collected as well and I sent letters to friends we knew and they did give as well as they could and we thanked them for their contribution. We had people from many counties helping as well in any way they could. Some came from Derry and Tyrone and their experience was great because they had a very good election in the six counties.
They were able to give us great help, even if the accent was unusual but they made sure they could do office work or drive cars taking various helpers to certain places in the county and so I suppose we were five or six weeks on the various areas. There was only three seats in North Kerry but there were four people standing as candidates so every vote was needed. It was a very interesting day as all were claiming a close contest.
The morning of the count we still had to tally as the boxes were opened to get an idea of how our client was doing as other candidates had been around before in previous elections. Around 11.30am rumours were spreading that Ferris was doing well but always some good boxes would be favourable and at lunch time rumours became real but no count was still complete. But when the first count came out Martin Ferris was head of the poll! What a victory, Martin eventually elected and Dick Spring lost his seat, (Jimmy)Deenihan and Mack(Tom McEllistrim) took the other two. It was like winning the All Ireland.
Having done a brief telling of my school days and my working years and my family life it’s time to give my retirement times and relaxing from travelling to various job locations.
To clarify, my final position was when Sean, my brother, asked me to come work with him in his business as he was anxious to retire and as Gleasure’s was going to close I accepted and went to help but we only stayed a while as Sean RIP passed on and his sons sold the shop as they were doing their own work. Jim Wrenn, who was a partner, took another premises in Rock Street and asked me to come with him but I only stayed a short term as I had qualified for the Senior Citizens Pension and retired again. Having a bit of land kept me active and it was something to do and cut the turf for the winter etc etc.
One day I visited my GP Dr. Joe for a check up and he enquired if I had checked the prostate so I said I never had, he checked and all was ok and I was checked six monthly after that. On the second check the blood showed something so it was off to Kerry General Hospital for investigation, the biopsy showed malignant but Dr. Joe was good about being in time. So it was on to CUH in Cork and I gave 8 weeks there coming home weekends. I would get Radium treatment once a day and so after Christmas I had only three treatments left and my trips to Cork were complete. I still had to keep regular checks on it and I went to Tralee every three months and Thank God it was a success.
Later that year in September a trip to Lourdes was being organised in the Kerry Diocese under the patronage of Bishop Murphy. There were some locals travelling and I was asked to be with them. I did as I had gone many places even Knock but never to Lourdes so I thought how lucky I was when I was in the CUH. I felt I should go and pay my thanks for the treatment I was lucky to get.
It was a great experience and many friends from the parish were there. We had a great week and met people from other parishes from Kerry. There was mass and prayers each day and a candlelit rosary each night around the grounds and after the last meal we collected in the hotel and many songs were sung including by our bishop
When we arrived back in Kerry we discovered a Rambling House in Abbeydorney owned by Sonny Egan which was the same as the one we had in our locality when we were growing up. Sonny is something else. He can sing, dance, play the box and tell yarns. People came to his house from far and wide and all could and did play their piece. There would be seven or eight musicians there every Tuesday night from October till May with a fire blazing. Waltzes and sets, people came to learn the set then and tourists came too, for the entertainment. Everybody welcomed a stop for tea. Sonny lives alone so the ladies made the tea. Often 70 or 80 people came there including the parish priest who also gave his party piece. I think I gave 20 years going there and then it closed as more sprung up and Sonny was involved in the Crotta Hurling club. Also he completed in the Ploughing Championships in North Kerry, so he was a man of many parts! I still think of the friends I met there all enjoying themselves and having a cup of tea.
Since then I have gone to many a Rambling House all over Kerry, Limerick and Cork, with my very good friends Tom & Kathleen Herlihy. But there is only one Sonny Egan and he never charged a penny but gave it for the sake of the people.
2013: We continue to attend Rambling Houses but that may be a story for another day …