herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

A time when our town was full of intriguing characters

Where the main street of our town meets the road which leads to Scartaglen and Ballydesmond and Mallow and other mysterious places is known as Molly's Corner. Molly had a shop there which could be called an emporium. She sold fruit and confectionery and sweets and groceries and built a thriving business.



sidecar

Molly's husband, Frank, sold fish out of a sidecar. He had one rather strange habit. He loved to address crowds as they came out of football matches. Nobody really understood what he was talking about. It was a kind of rural philosophy but it made sense. Molly and Frank had one daughter, Sally, who was content to serve in the shop. They had two sons, Sean and Francie, who did not believe in regular employment. They were both traders. Sean had a small van and Francie had a pony and car. When Sean's business was going badly, he set himself up as a bicycle mechanic.

Business was slow and so one day he strolled down to the back of the Convent school into the shed where the bicycles were stored. He punctured 11 wheels. He appeared before the District Court a few days later and he defended himself. He said that the 11 bicycles were owned by girls who came on the same road to school and that the County Council were trimming the hedges and there were thorns everywhere. The judge, the famous RDF Johnson, gave him full marks for ingenuity and a month in jail.

When Sean came out, he decided to become a bell man but that position had long been occupied by Mikey Conway. On Sean's first venture he was going up the street as Mikey was coming down. Mikey hit him with a not-so-gentle tap on the head with his bell and then he announced a cardinal principle of Socialism: "Sean. One man. One job." As Sean had failed in so many ventures, he decided to go to London.



stall

While all this was going on, Francie had married a girl who came from generations of traders. They too went to London and set up a stall in the Camden Street Market. Then Francie joined the army.

There were rumours that Sean had joined the RAF. In fact he took over Francie's stall and managed to avoid conscription by pleading his Irish citizenship. It is doubtful if Francie or Sean ever came home.

At home, Mikey was still the town bell man and he took Molly's Corner as his stand to address people going to Mass: "A roan heifer strayed from the Fair here last week and there hasn't been trace or tidings of her since. If somebody has any information, please report to me or to the Garda Barracks." Tom Bawn sold his fish near that same corner which, incidentally, is on the eastern side of the street.

Molly Costello and her husband Frank have long since departed this mortal world. Tom Bawn and Mikey Conway are no more but that meeting of the Main Street and the road to Cork is still called Molly's Corner.

The times are a-changing and people now are nearly all sensible, too much so. A character was a person who danced to his own or her own music. They all seem to listen to the same music now.

Fogra: Recently in Ringsend Siofra Cleirigh Buttner led the field a merry dance when running an excellent 2:04.82 for the 800m to qualify for the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Barcelona

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