Thursday, 12 July 2012

Handball continued

Killorglin  July 2012 by Wayne Murphy


Bonfire in readiness

Meanwhile, in Belfast, it's July 12th


Listowel Handball continued

In those years of the 1940’s one of the social events of the year was the annual Handball Club dance which was held at the Plaza on St. Stephens night with catering by Diana and this event it seems was a wonderful occasion with the then chairman, Stuart Stack one of the main driving forces.
During the duration of the Second World War the Alley was generally packed with players and, indeed the side alley as it was known then, the other side of the right hand wall was used quite a lot.
At war time emigration was not on the agenda throughout Ireland, so for many staying at home was the only option even though employment was scarce.
Many of the Listowel great handballers’ would have been seen in action in those years, names such as the Gatler Moloney, Paddy Rowan, Pat Joe and Dick O’Connor, Tommy Daly, John Joe Kenny, Jackie Fitzgibbon, Stuart Stack, Tom Sweeney, Christy Mackessy, Connie Keane, John O’Mahony, Tim Shanahan, Mick Glynn and Kevin Sheehy were looked upon as the cream of the crop.
The annual doubles tournament was eagerly looked forward to and was played before large crowds as if an All Ireland title was at stake.
Local man Toddy Enright remembers being involved in one of these tournaments in the mid 1940’s.
Toddy reminisces; “I was not playing handball long and was asked to enter the tournament, which I did. I was partnered with Gatler Moloney who was one of the star players of that time. I got my instructions very early on from the Gatler.
“You keep in around the short line and leave everything to me. I did what I was told, picking up a few handy aces near the front wall from time to time but Gatler mastered everything and we eventually won out the competition defeating Tommy Daly of Market Street, and his partner, whose name I can’t remember, in the final. Tommy was a Listowel footballer around that time as well. I know we got a few shillings for winning out, whether we would be considered professionals or not, I don’t know but the few bob was handy.”
The sense of entrepreneurship was very much evident among the youth of the Bridge Road at that time.   
The likes of Paddy O’Leary, Kieron O’Shea, Junior Griffin, Gene O’Connell, Thomas Hassett and others found a means of making a bit of handy pocket money.                   

In the days when there was 240 pence to the pound, one old penny was secured in some way.

After early morning Sunday Mass a visit was made to a lovely lady named Mrs. Dowling who lived a mile or so out in Woodford.

For the penny Mrs. Dowling would give 8 or 10 apples and it was back to the alley as fast as possible to sell the apples.
The aim was to make at least 4 old pence. Anything more than that was a bonus and would ensure that the price of the apples for the following Sunday was secured.

When the magical 4 pence was made the hearts were aglow.  It meant 2 pence for the Sunday matinee and 2 pence worth of Cleeve’s slab-toffee was “in the fist”.
For the 2 pence, 4 squares of the slab toffee was purchased from Miss Eily Sheehy, Upper Church Street, a sister of Frank Sheehys; she had a little cutter for the purpose and cut off the four squares in the one piece.
It was then across the road to the Plaza for the matinee. The toffee was broke into four single squares off the metal chair legs.
Of course some would always fall to the ground but the word hygiene was not in our vocabulary at that time. Maybe a quick wipe off the short pants but it was into the mouth as soon as possible and our week was made. We really wanted nothing else.

More tomorrow.........


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