Aug 23 2011

Memories along the Silverspoon

Published by at 11:21 am under News

(Click on image to enlarge)

I recently took a stroll along the banks of the Tolka River that runs alongside Ballyboggin Road. First off I crossed over the bridge that once led to the old dump where me and my young pals hunted for rats that were almost as big as ourselves. Strangely enough, as I closed my eyes I could still smell the stench of household waste and rubbish that came from the dump all those years ago. As I stood for a moment on the bridge I could hear voices to my right coming from the new Pitch and Putt course that straddles the bank of the river. The voices had a slight echo from them that brought to mind the chatter and laughter of young children paddling in the river all so long ago.

Crossing the bridge I turned to my left and rambled along the riverbank to an area we once called ‘The Silverspoon’. There were blackberry bushes all along the waters edge showing off a great crop of berries crying out to be picked by little hands and shoved into an open mouth, so I obliged. They had a slightly bitter sweet taste and reminded me of my father and the many times he walked us along this stretch of river picking ‘Blackers’ for the ‘Ma.

Today was a beautiful sunny day, you remember the kind of days we had when hoards of kids from Cabra would descend on the open air ‘Cabra Baths’. Some of the boys could be seen taking off their clothes before they even got to the pool, the excitement was powerful. The girls would take themselves and the smaller children across the field and down to the ‘Silverspoon’ to paddle in its clear crystal water.

Do you know, as I stood there looking out across the river to the area where the baths once stood I remembered some of my brothers and their pals standing in the river holding a sack between. They’d scoop it into the water and wait for the word to ‘Lift it slowly’ and like magic they would see squiggling tiny Minnows appear. Little hands would gently reach out and lifting up the tiny fish drop them into a jam jar half filled with water from the river. Some of the younger children would jump up and down in the water with great excitement, splashing everything and everyone in sight.

I sat down on a large rock by the rivers edge and thought of me Ma’ and the time she told us we were going to the seaside for the day.  With seven or eight children in tow she headed up Broombridge Road and met up with her sister and her gang of kids. We all headed off in great excitement to the seaside. We crossed over the Royal Canal at Broombridge and turned left at the dump heading towards Cardiffsbridge. When the old bridge joining Cabra and Finglas came in sight I remember seeing the remains of some old cottages on the Cabra side. I can still recall how excited all us kids were as we roared and shouted, ‘There’s the seaside’. We crossed over the bridge and made our way down the embankment to the waters edge. Not one of us had any swimming gear so we stripped off into our nude, boys and girls and dashed like wild horses into the cold waters of the Tolka River. To us young children this was Heaven, the freedom to run and shout and splash about without a care in the world. The Ma’ and her sister sat together on a clump of grass and chatted away to their hearts content. Overhead the birds too chatted in the trees and the sun shone even brighter than before.

I don’t know who put that river there but I’m so glad they did because it played a very important part in my young life growing up in Cabra West. I wonder did some rich person lose a silverspoon in the river while they too were paddling in it like us kids? Is that how it got its name? And wasn’t it strange that we had a seaside there as well…



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