‘Happiest Memories Are Of Easter Time & Easter Parades’ Writes Tom Ryan.

I first fell in love with Easter when I heard Judy Garland sing “I could write a sonnet about your Easter Bonnet With all the frills upon it in the Easter Parade”. Then and for many years later, within the environs of Thurles, was held an ‘Easter Bonnet Parade’. Sadly no more.

In pre-television days as a child it was a treat for me to go out in the early morning, on Easter Sunday, and search under the newly planted cabbage plant leaves to see if the Easter Bunny or Good Fairy of Easter, had brought me a surprise in the dark of night; a reward for being a good boy who had not broken any windows; taking 21 yard frees, playing hurling on the road or had not annoyed the poor unfortunate neighbours with harmless blaggarding.

The movie, “Easter Parade”, with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, might be showing in the local cinema, to which we went in the afternoon, funded by our Easter egg money, with comics to swap for little chocolate Easter eggs or what remained of a large sized Easter Egg; had we been really lucky enough earlier that morning.

At Easter Sunday Mass it was essential that we brought home bottles of Easter Water, with the stern warning to be sure to not spill it along the way home.

Easter was always one of the most joyful times of the year for us children despite being asked to write essays (compositions, or aisti we called them) on Eiri na Casca and An Chaisc, at the local Christian Brothers School. Easter Sunday was such an uplifting experience after all the solemnity and serious ceremonies of Good Friday, when shops had to be closed before the Stations of the Cross on that day, and when Thurles Cathedral would be packed with genuinely religious folks.
The tradition of the closing of shop shutters on Good Friday, again is longer observed.

As kids we always wore our very best clothes for Mass on Easter Sunday, which was followed by the Easter Commemorations; featuring male members of the Old IRA and Cumann na mBan (“The Women’s Council”) both of whom who had fought in the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921, between the Irish Republican Army and British forces.
Some of those gathered wore Easter Lily badges in their lapels. Here on this day in Liberty Square, Thurles, the Irish Proclamation of Independence would be read aloud and the Irish National Anthem played, as townsfolk stood, like Kevin Barry, who according to the song ‘Kevin Barry’ “proudly held his head on high”, in honour of all who had died during that same War of Independence, begun over 100 years ago, in Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary, on the day the first Dáil Eireann met on January 21st, 1919. As the years have rolled by, the number of those old soldiers who marched in the Easter Sunday Commemorations Parade, sadly are no longer with us.

At the cuardaiocht evenings, on Easter Sunday night, in Thurles in earlier days, it was mandatory to sing “Tipperary So Far Away” a song about legendary Sean Treacy of the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA, who was held in the highest esteem in the homesteads of Tipperary. The exploits of Treacy and those of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Old IRA were related in almost reverential tones by older folks.

The late Mrs Kathleen Allis Cleary, a first cousin once removed of Sean Treacy, lived here in Thurles and possessed the violin which Sean Treacy played at other Cuardaiocht evenings, long ago in possibly more convivial and reverential times in Co. Tipperary.

Easter is still, for me, an uplifting time, offering sparkling hope for the future and not a little nostalgia for a more innocent past.
Happy Easter to all and well wear on your bonnets, ladies! Hats the way!

Tom Ryan, ”Iona” Rahealty, Thurles, County Tipperary.


2 comments to ‘Happiest Memories Are Of Easter Time & Easter Parades’ Writes Tom Ryan.

  • Katie

    Tom absolutely beautiful. You know Tom when we Irish here in Australia get together for a sing-along, they always sing these lovely old Irish songs. I was looking after an elderly lady who had Alzheimer’s. She was such a lovely person but the biggest thief. When I would take her to the shops. I think she must have loved slides and ribbons in her hair. She did come from a very wealthy family, but Tom I used to have a set up in my car and when she got sad I would always play for her, “It’s a long way to Tipperary”. She would then tap her feet and forget all her sadness and we would both sing away her favorite songs. That’s how I learned the words to Kevin Barry. Lily was always telling me. When they were young they had a lot of Irish Terriers not sure if they did. It must have been my Irish accent. Lily has passed away now. RIP. A Happy Easter to you Tom and all my friends in Thurles.

  • George Willoughby

    Happy Easter to you and yours Katie

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