Weekend In Thurles

A Weekend In Thurles Long Ago.

Poem Courtesy of Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

When Sunday was solemn and sacred in the town where I was bred,
I woke to the tang of rashers and fresh brown, home-made bread.
My father the Sunday Press in hand, and mother, in bib, making tay,
In the range the kippins crackle a greeting to the day.

The Cathedral bells were ringing by the grassy banks of the Suir,
And the birds their sweet songs singing outside our open door.
My Sunday shirt had been iron pressed, the shoes shone Saturday night.
The neighbours to be impressed, but the reason was “just to be right”.

On the path outside of the window, the neighbours, with missals in hand,
Or maybe the beads of the Rosary, brought from that far-off land,
Were hurrying to the Cathedral, for the first and swiftest Mass,
To be back for the train to Killarney, for the Munster hurling match.

My dad sold minerals bottled, Orange and Lemonade,
As we rattled along in the steam train, with the soot from black coal made,
Fortified by thick and stout sandwiches; lettuce and ingins and ham,
For myself it was orange and biscuits, with a sprinkling of gooseberry jam.

Six pence each for the min’rals and I loved the men from the Lee,
Who gave me a half crown or a tanner and a lot of sympathy.
The father fashioned the hurleys from the Killough mountain ash,
And remarked on the manner you’d grain it and the way the grain was set.

You had to get the messages, from Flaherty’s in Dempsey’s Square,
With crinkled red ten bob notes, when the fiver was mighty rare.
We sometimes shopped ‘by the book’ for potatoes and grinder bread,
For Lyons tea, a few rashers and occasionally a pig’s head.

Everything seemed right of a Sunday, as we tuned in to Micheal O’Hehir,
Mam on Saturday bought wet & dry batteries in O’Donoghues off the Square.
Crowe’s Laneway, at ten of a Sunday, they’d gather for pitch and toss,
The head and harp of the pennies, balanced on comb or match box.

Mam’s thoughts were not of the hurling, but the shillings to rig us all out,
For Confirmation or Holy Communion, or just for going about.
Later at Benediction she’d go and quietly pray,
“Send himself a job on the morrow, in the meadow saving hay.”

Or driving the uncle’s cattle to the market in the town
Through squelching manure on the Square and the shops with barriers down.
Sunday night there’d be no radio, we’d go coordeek for a while,
As a nimble fingered uncle Mick played the melodeon in style.

I remember still the father standing against the kitchen door,
His lovely “Rose of Mooncoin” drew a loud and approving roar.
Sunday was always prosperous, bright and for kids there was no school,
No leather would redden your skin that day, nor anyone call you fool.

In the winter we’d swap the comics, at the “Wan Above” or “Below,”
And roar at hero Flash Gordon, in the Sunday serial show.
Whatever else, we have memories of a richly innocent time,
And pals we’d fight and die for, whatever their sin or crime.
When the sun seemed to shine forever in skies of summer blue,
And I was just a chiseller and so, ould stock, were you.

The End

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.


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