Monday, March 17, 2008

They'd choke a bullock!
God bless them.
With regard to potatoes, the threatening nature
of the above exclamation should be disregarded
and instead be viewed as the highest accolade a
boiled spud could receive. My Father-in-Law
has been growing Golden Wonder potatoes
since the 50's and, frankly, considers no other
variety worth his efforts. The flouriest variety
in existence, the Golden Wonder is a low
yielding, late maturing potato which keeps very
well and tastes wonderful steamed, roasted,
mashed, chipped. It is , however, difficult to
boil, breaking up in the process, which is why
steaming is best.
So if you're feeling motivated - we have our
usual wide range of early and main crop seed
potato varieties available. Start preparing the
ground as soon as conditions allow - dig over
and incorporate some well rotted farmyard
manure or some base fertilizer. Aim to have
your earlies planted by St Patricks Day and
your Main Crop by Punchestown Races –
nothing like partaking of the festivities with an
easy mind!
For low input vegetables grow Onions,
especially from 'sets', Scallions and the huge
range of salad leaves – lettuce, rocket, sorrell
etc. It's hard to beat the feeling of sitting down
to a plate which includes home-produced food
– don't forget to thump your chest and declare
the spuds 'Balls of Flour'.
Flower bulbs are also available now – plant into
pots or the open ground (protect from frost
however) they'll make a wonderful display later
– Begonia, Lily, Dahlia, Gladioli, Anemone. A
large pot full of 'Bishop of Llandaff' Dahlia is
quite a sight in late Summer.
As the old saying goes, 'If we survived the
Winter, the Divil wouldn't kill us in the
Summer' so lets look forward to a good Spring,
an even better Summer and a successful Veggie
growing year.
Matt’s Memories

From Those Death Left Behind
Seeing Rose’s appraisal of Amanda Evan’s book “From Those Death Left Behind” in the December Bugle prompted me to read her article. Reading is no longer easy for me but I was determined to read this particular article. Rose did not disappoint me. Her article was very perceptive.

I knew Jim well. In his younger days he worked part time for my late father. Jim died on October 29, 1990. Apart from his fish bate making talents, he was also a very good hardball maker. On a number of occasions I watched his talents with admiration. I see Amanda’s mother Yvonne and sister Christine also contributed to this book.

When Jim died I was busy looking after my mother who was in failing health. The phone rang as I was preparing dinner for her. I presume who ever rang had rung our number by mistake. My father had died on June 27, 1988 but he had the same name as my brother, Billy Purcell, also a G.P., who lived in Naas. Hopefully Amanda’s book will be a success and will help her recover from her great loss.

From the website I see Amanda first published her book in 2005. More recently she has published a book called Ghostwriting Uncovered Manual - How I Quit My Day Job & You Can Too for 15.09 Euro and created a website called

From Craddockstown to Rathfarnham
Recently I visited John and Brenda Hederman at their home in Rathfarnham and had a lovely meal there. Brenda, before she was married, was an Osborne of Craddockstown, Naas. My late father was a good friend of Brenda’s dad, John as they both were interested in horses. John died in 1948.

My father was a G.P. and cared for Mrs Osborne until she died - in 1968 I think it was. John’s father had a shop in Naas while his late brother Con had a coal business on the outskirts of Naas beside the railway line. In his later days Con was a regular handball player in Ballymore-Eustace. His youngest brother, the late Brendan, went to Naas National School and was in the same class as my brother Billy.

John loves fishing and I gather he has been a member of the Ballymore-Eustace Club for many years. His involvement in fishing has brought him to Belcarra, Mayo on many occasions. John kindly collected and returned me to Braemor Avenue to make my visit possible.

Brenda had two sisters and three brothers. Miriam, Jack and Billy all died some years ago. Three members of the family survive - Brenda herself, her older sister Marjorie (now in California with her family) and her youngest brother Tom. I am also friends with Marjorie and last met her at Brenda’s house. In her younger days Marjorie used to communicate with my late mother at Christmas time. Marjorie’s husband Christy was an airline pilot but he died several years ago.

On this visit, I met John and Brenda’s daughter Anne for the first time while her only brother John died a number of years ago.

Broadleas Commons
For me, the late Pat Kelly belonged to the fifties. In reality these were the final years of his life. Pat lived in a two-storey house on Broadleas Commons. As far as I can recall his son Nicholas, Nicholas’ wife and two daughters lived in a separate house beside Pat’s. Pat and his bicycle were inseparable. I recall Pat cutting one of my late father’s hedges and doing an excellent job on it. Pat himself was always well dressed whenever I saw him. For many years, his son Nicholas was one of Ballymore-Eustace’s postmen.

Mr and Mrs Patsy Murphy raised two families at Liffeydale. Their own consisting of three girls namely Rita Lawler, the late Frances Higgins and Teresa Flood and four boys namely John, Meahall, the late Paddy and the late Martin. When their parents died while still young, Patsy and his wife also raised the late Sean, the late Mick and Brendan. Patsy and his wife celebrated the Golden Jubilee of their marriage before Mrs Murphy died in her mid-eighties. A photo of Patsy and his wife cutting their Golden Jubilee wedding cake appears in Fr Browne’s 1972 Chronicle. Patsy spent the last years of his life with his recently deceased daughter Frances and her husband Paddy Higgins in Newbridge. Patsy was in his nineties when he died and over the years, he won many prizes with his sheep – a tradition continued by his family members.

An Old Friend
It is hard to imagine Tommy Devoy was forty-nine years dead on January 1. Tommy was a bachelor who lived in the third one storey terraced house (beside the two storey house formerly owned by the O’Loughlins) from the Liffey Bridge on Dennisons' side of the road. On many occasions I dropped into Tommy for a chat. In his later days, Tommy often visited the ball alley to watch the action there.

The Family
As explained, my family were very helpful during my illness. These included my sister Margaret Perry of Cobh, my sister-in-law Joan of Ferns, my brother Billy and his wife Carmel of Naas and my brother James and his wife Marie of Templeogue. Some visited me when I could not remember they were there. Some visited me wherever I was. One fought my battles for me when I could not fight my own. One visited me a couple of times a day. One kept my lawns etc. cut and brought me to Mass several times and was on standby for me the rest of the time. Meanwhile one kept my financial affairs in order. All helped in one-way or another as did their families.

Eddie and Mai
Bannion rather than Bunion sounds right to me Eddie! My piece should have read: “Three lovely Lassies from Bannion” - I stand corrected. When Eddie and Mai were over here in recent times I paid them a number of very pleasant visits at their newly renovated house beside the Catholic Church. Eddie was of course a key figure in Ballymore-Eustace’s great run of successes in Gaelic football in the fifties as he was Secretary of the club at the time. I have the height of admiration for Eddie who after only twelve weeks of a major bowel operation was out and about again. A year on I guess Mai’s left footed bunion – now removed – is better. Thanks Eddie and Mai for your good wishes.

I was delighted to see from his sister Teresa’s letter in the Bugle that Jimmy Murphy was found after 48 hours and is making good progress in Naas Hospital. In his younger days, before he went to England, Jimmy was a good handball player. Was Jimmy a brother of the late Dan Murphy? I do not know. Dan was once a major figure in old Ballymore-Eustace who lived in the premises where Kay and Linda Headon now live. The records show that in 1945 a W. Grace and C. Murphy won the All-Ireland Junior Hardball doubles title for Kildare. The W. Grace was no doubt Willie Grace but I’m not sure about the C. Murphy – should this have read as I always thought it did, D. Murphy?

Saw where C.J. O’Reilly’s Sea Diva was an easy winner of a 3mile 5 furlongs chase at Fairyhouse on December 1. Sea Diva followed this up with a good fifth in the feature race at Leopardstown on December 27.
Sea Diva again ran a good race to be fifth in this year’s Leopardstown Chase. In 1948, some sixty years ago, my late father owned and trained Summer Star to win that year’s Leopardstown Chase that at the time was second in importance only to the Irish Grand National for chasers. For good measure Summer Star paid 195 shillings to 2 shillings on the Tote or 96½ to 1.
More Horses
Saw where Carmen’s Ford scored twice in December. Once on December 14 at Gowran Park over 2 mile 4 furlongs at 14/1 and the other time a week later at Downpatrick over 2 mile 7 furlongs at 7/2. Carmen’s Ford was bred by Greg Lawler and is owned by the Collar and Tie Syndicate.

Joe Brown
Saw where Joe Brown was running in England on January 10. Was going to back him but did not. He won at 7/1…..
Had some luck recently when I backed Motaraqeb by accident at Leopardstown on January 13 and he won for me at 35/1. I won’t talk about my losers!

Vic Bahr of Brisbane celebrated his 90th birthday on January 20. Vic was married to the late Kate Rodney who died in December 2005. Talking to Vic I gather he was tired after his celebrations. He also informed me that his 100-year-old sister-in-law Margaret Rodney is keeping well.

I was sorry to see Cathal Ryan in his late forties died on December 20 R.I.P. His passing coming so soon after his father’s death was particularly sad. Tony was his father and was closely involved with the Ryanair Company. Cathal was an expert pilot and was associated with the Swordlestown Stud.

Reading of the death of Trish Dujic in the New Year came as a shock to me. I always thought of Trish as Trish Doyle. Trish was the youngest child of the late Jack Doyle and the late Mag Doyle (nee McGee). Jack and Mag lived in the two-storey house at the junction of The Square and the Truce Road. We would have known them as Doyles' of the dairy. In her younger days, Trish took music lessons from Miss Hickson of Naas. At the time, Miss Hickson used to travel out from Naas by bicycle to Byrnes’ house beside the Catholic Church. From The Bugle, I see Trish had celebrated her 60th birthday, was retired and is survived by her son John, her grandchildren and her five sisters. Her only brother Jim died four years ago on February 24, 2003.

Eileen Howell (nee Purcell) died on January 15. Her husband Con died in 1986. Her three sisters Phil, Vera and Joan (Dan’s widow) and three brothers Oliver, Vincent and Brendan survive Eileen. Joan helped care for Eileen in her final days. Eileen is also survived by her daughter Eileen.
© Matt Purcell (January 20, 2008).

No comments: