Up The Quarry And Down The Pike

Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan Remembers.

“Up the quarry and down the Pike,
That’s the way to ride a bike “

[Who has ever heard Thurles people sing that old refrain above.]

One of the most delightful of Thurles personalities was the late Nan Roche of Lisheen Terrace, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

I spoke to her on her 80th birthday and some seventy years of her 80 years had been spent in the Quarry, which once produced a World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Paddy Ryan.

Nan Roche recalled to me that she came into the world on the sunny side of Liberty Square, in Thurles; born in Cooks Lane back in 1915. Cooks lane was situated between Hayes Hotel and Roches Hardware

“I have memories of generals and officers, but they were probably Black and Tans”, Nan recalled, and she remembered days of apples galore and one Margaret Cantwell and being told to mind herself crossing the road, in an era when there were no cars; only the animal powered variety.

Nan, a great friend of mine for many years, loved to tell me of great yarns of sporting days in Thurles. For instance, when some folks were not beyond linking doorknobs on opposite sides of the street with string. “I’d hate to try that in Mitchel Street today”, she stated, She continued “In those days people travelled to Templemore for a pair of new shoes. Sure that would be accomplished with all the ceremony and hoo-ha that accompanies a holiday”.

Half upgraded Liberty Square area photographed in 2023.
Pic: G. Willoughby

I myself well recall going to the CBS from Fianna Road wading in wellies up the Mall (if you were lucky enough to have them), with a mandatory quick glance at the latest toys or fishing tackle in Kilroys’ window of wonder. Then across the square to school on Market Day held on the first Tuesday of each month.
The shop windows were all boarded up for safety and security to avoid the vast and heaving mass of cattle on the streets and sidewalks of Liberty Square. Indeed I well recall playing hurling in the Square.

In the 1950’s, I was always a goalkeeper for matches in Fianna Road, just off Liberty Square. Though my backside faced down towards the river at the junction of Fianna Road and Slievenamon Road, I never had to look around me for traffic, because there was none. Only a car belonging to Detective Garda Pat Wall who was my next-door neighbour and father of All-Ireland hurler, Tony Wall.

I don’t think there ever was an excuse for being late for school. There used to be a Minah Bird in a wee shop in the Square, near PJ Broderick’s auctioneers now, which was forever urging us to “Hurry up, you’ll be late for school”.

I suppose that if a country person knows every corner of every field where he was brought up, the ould townies in Thurles will recall a million stories on the street or road or terrace where they lived.

There is not a square inch of the Watery Mall in Thurles, where I have not played hurling or planned an ambush on the enemy of the United States Marine Corps.

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


Put Out Your Bratóg Bríde Tonight For A Year of Better Health.

Have you ever heard of the Brat Bríde or Bratóg Bríde (roughly translating from Irish as Brigid’s Rag)?

It’s an old Irish tradition in honour of St Brigid. Long ago it was the custom to tie a small piece of cloth to a bush on January 31st, the eve of St Brigid’s Day, February 1st.

Bratóg Bríde (Brigid’s Rag)

Overnight it was believed that the cloth would be blessed by St Brigid and conferred with healing properties. It was then worn under clothing to protect against sickness, relieve headaches and cure toothaches.

It was particularly important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, because it was said to help women to produce enough nourishing milk to feed their babies.

This fascinating ancient tradition is currently being highlighted by the “Monasterevin Women’s Collective in Honour of St Brigid” and is among a host of initiatives and activities taking place across Ireland as part of Brigid 1500 celebrations this year, 2024.


Today, Saturday January 27th, Is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Today, Saturday January 27th the United Nations General Assembly designated this date January 27th; the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time to remember the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazi persecution.

The Holocaust was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe, around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.

The murders were carried out primarily through mass shootings and poison gas, in extermination camps, chiefly Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, and Chełmno in occupied Poland. Only a few Holocaust perpetrators faced criminal trials.

Sadly, at this present time here in Ireland and indeed world wide, we are witnessing the alarming rise of anti-Semitism. Indeed it is now more important than ever for us to recognize the critical lessons of Holocaust history, as we commemorate, today, the victims and honour those who survived.

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd. Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false. – Quotes by Bertrand Arthur William Russell, (British mathematician, philosopher and public intellectual).

If we want to live in a better world, we start now; by not discriminating against our fellow man any more.


Cashel Library To Celebrate St Brigid Of Kildare.

Cashel Library will celebrate St. Brigid, with an event taking place on Tuesday morning next, January 30th at 11:00am sharp.

This year 2024 we celebrate over 3,000 years of ‘Brigid the Goddess’, and 1,500 years of ‘Brigid the Saint’, which is what makes her legacy so enduring.

Cashel Librarian, Ms Maura Barrett, will, on Tuesday morning next, cast more light on the St Brigid story.

One of a number of models, on the life and work of St Brigid, is now available to view in St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare Town, Co. Kildare; latter building which occupies the site of the original monastery founded by St Brigid.
Pic: G. Willoughby ©.

Dandelion Flower. (Irish: ‘Bearnán Bhríde’).
The Dandelion Flower is long associated with Saint Brigid (known in Irish as ‘Bearnán Bhríde’). It is one of the first blossoms observed after Saint Brigid’s day and it is said that every time you see one in bloom you should think of the bright flame of faith that is Saint Brigid. The flower also signifies that Saint Brigid was one of the first people, thousands of years ago, to draw attention to, and champion biodiversity, through her care of flora and fauna and her knowledge of the environment.

Brigid’s Bird. (Irish: Brìd-eun meaning ‘Brigid’s bird’ or ‘Giolla-Brìghde’ meaning ‘Servant of Bride’).
The bird known as the Oystercatcher is connected to St Brigid of Kildare. Legend states St Brigid was running away from a band of evil men, who wished her dead. Alone and on reaching a beach where there was no place to hide, she said a prayer to God to thank him for her life, before lying on the sand to accept her death. However, before the evil men reached where she lay, Oystercatcher birds scavenging on the shoreline, saw her, and realised her predicament covered her with seaweed, thus hiding her and saving her life. She later is said to have blessed the species and since that day the Oystercatcher bird has been linked to Ireland’s principal female saint.

St Brigid’s Cross. (Irish: Cros Bhríde, Crosóg Bhríde or Bogha Bhríde)
A St Brigid’s Cross is correctly and traditionally made with just 7 strands of the widely distributed soft field rush (Juncus effusus) representing 7 days in the week. (In modern times, same can be woven from straw; rushes; drinking straws, or rolled paper; its construction defined by whatever building materials are available). Four (the four arms of the cross) multiplied by 7 equals 28, latter representing St Brigid’s month, being February, which has 28 days. The middle part of the cross adds up to 29 representing the 29 days in February’s ‘once in 4’ leap year.

The public are invited to please come along to attend this informative lecture, but please remember booking is essential, so please make contact in advance by Telephoning Cashel Library at 062 63825 or 062 63856, to be sure of a seat.

Note: Tea and Coffee will be served.
[ You can locate the Cashel Library building, situated on Friar Street, Lady’s Well, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, HERE. (G487+RX) ].


“A Nickel Ain’t Worth A Dime Anymore”.

It is not just the rising cost of living which is diminishing the value of Irish currency, so also is rust, if coinage, when exposed to the elements, continues to be manufactured from copper-plated steel.

Global wealth, at the end of 2022, was estimated to be about $454.4 trillion, same shrinking for the first time, since the financial crisis in 2008, by an estimated $11.3 trillion last year, 2023.

Money has been part of our human history for at least the past 5,000 years, graduating from bartering, (e.g. a dry measure of wheat from a farmer in exchange for a pair of shoes from a shoe maker), to the introduction of money, the later thus increasing the speed at which business deals could be transacted.

Above 3 coins are dated 1862 (Young Victoria halfpenny), 1853 (Young Victoria penny) and 2000 (Irish 1p), respectively.

The invention of metal coinage occurred when Lydia’s (Same country now present day Turkey), King Alyattes (r. 619-560 BCE) minted the first coins in the second half of the 7th century, before Christian era (BCE). These coins were made from electrum, latter a mixture of silver and gold that occurs naturally, and the coins were stamped with pictures that acted as the unit classification for each stated coin.

During 1260 CE, the Yuan dynasty of China, were the first to move from coins to paper money, with the stated warning, “Those who are counterfeiting will be beheaded”.

Of the above pictured 3 coins, same located buried in the ground and under similar circumstances; the first two dated 1862 and 1853 are made from bronze, while the 3rd coin; a decimal one penny Irish coin dated 2000, is coloured bronze, but made of actually copper-plated steel. As our readers can observe prone to rust if left/lost in damp clay.

It was in the 21st century that we began the form of making payments, for goods and services, using just the touch of our index finger, using a portable electronic device, such as a smartphone or tablet device.

In recent years, the acceleration of digital adoption, was brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and was the main reasons why the use of cash declined significantly. Paper money has been long seen as a carrier of germs and disease, and as that pandemic grew, some businesses insisted that consumers used plastic or contactless smartphones, to complete transactions. Indeed, going back to Victorian times the upper classes regularly washed coinage, before giving them to their children. (Interesting to note that following a study of €10 notes in recent years, nearly 80% of them showed traces of cocaine, skin bacteria, DNA from pets and viruses, but thankfully our skin remains a really good protector of our overall health).

Cryptocurrencies and the use of smart cards has increased considerably, mainly because they offer such convenience, through speed and greater security. Worldwide, coins are no longer being manufactured to the same degree, thus saving countries millions in the mining of metal and cost of coin manufacture.

While it is accepted that coins and paper money will cease to exist by the end of this century, the stated rule, “Investment in knowledge will continue to pays the best interest”, remains steadfast.