Sep 14 2007

People from the Past

Published by at 8:15 pm under News


Rose O’Driscoll 

 Rose O’Driscoll is fondly remembered by many people in Cabra West for the beautiful and simplistic poetry that she wrote. She wrote versus for Christmas cards and performed poetry readings in the Parish Centre. A piece of her work was actually aired on the Gay Byrne radio show. By all accounts Rose was a good and kind friend to all. Rose moved into Cabra West in 1943 with her young family. She originally came from a rural background with her roots extending from County Kildare. However she took Cabra West and its people into her heart and settled in well with her new neighbours and friends. Rose lived with her husband and six children on Carnlough Road. A great legacy that she left behind was that of her poetry. On any occasion that great and famous people from Cabra West are mentioned the name of Rose O’Driscoll always rises to the surface. Here we will pay a special tribute to Rose and say thank you from the community of Cabra West and its people regardless of where in this great world they are to be found.


My friend he thinks its quite a joke

When I suggest he should not smoke.

Just think of all the cash he’d save

T’would save him from an early grave.

He says I do not understand

But smoking makes him feel quite grand

‘I’ve got a right to smoke’ says he

‘It hurts nobody else but me’

Frustrated I give up in despair

I too have a right to breath fresh air. 

 Childhood Memories

Sitting by the kerbside, oblivious of the rain

Redirecting matches making for the drain.

Laughing gurgling water kissing suntan toes,

As they peep thro’ my sandals and the steam of water grows.

Lovely babbling water swirling round my feet

Oh the joy of an eight year old playing in the street.

Sounds of the tinkling water smells of summer rain,

Will stay with me forever since I sat near the drain.



Robert (Bob) Hartney worked as an Usher in the Manor Cinema. He worked here from 1920 until 1956. It first opened as a cinema in 1914 and had seating for 630 people. It was later known as the Palladium Cinema and then became the Broadway. Bob started off his career in showbiz as a Junior Usher wearing a dark blue uniform and cap. The first film they showed when Bob started working there was called ‘He Comes Up Smiling’ starring Douglas Fairbanks. There was an inhouse orchestra comprising of the manageress on piano and her sister on the cello along with a violinist. Bob prefered the ‘Cowboy’ films with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. At one time a punter arrived at the cinema on a horse and proceeded to direct his horse into the cinema. In 1940 Bob took a shine to a young lady standing in the queue, they became engaged a little over a year later. Bob often let young children in free of charge if he thought they hadn’t the money to pay. The doors of the cinema finally closed for good in 1956. Bob arrived home that night with the old cinema clock on the back of his bike and tears streaming from his eyes.


                   Billy Arthurs – Newspaper Vendor – Born Dublin 1921

(Interview conducted in 1989)

  No figure in Stoneybatter is more visible than Billy Arthur’s who, for the past 40 years, has been implanted on the famous Hanlon’s Corner at the top of Prussia Street and North Circular Road . In the newspaper vending trade it is one of the most coveted spots in all Dublin. Business is so hectic that Billy can’t take time out to record this chat in some quiet setting. It will have to take place on the open street corner amid the clamor of traffic, customer interruptions, and intermittent angry spells of rain. Until a few years ago he shared the corner with his wife who, he explains, was even more ‘famous’ than he. He idolised her and has saved everything that belonged to her, even raggedy old coats. Since her passing, he has lived with a loneliness that won’t go away.  

‘This corner was always a landmark. My wife’s father had the corner and his mother before him. In them days of the cattle market there was more people around. There was about 400 or 500 hundred people around here in them days, all the drovers and English and German blokes. Boarding houses were nearly always full along there. Pubs opened at 6:00 and the men would come into Hanlon’s here to have a few whiskeys. There’d be 200 men in there. They’d even be drinking out here on the corner. And there used to be more than a hundred bikes along there and animals were all over the place. You might get an odd one running a bit wild when he comes off the train at Broombridge.

‘In the old days it was all a man’s bar. No women allowed in there. Men would do business in there. Have a bit of a deal, have a drink and they’d come out and buy a paper off you. Cattle buyers were good tippers in the olden days. Oh God, I used to  make more money on tips than I did selling papers. If a paper was three pence they’d maybe give you six pence. In them days they’d say, “Keep the change”. I could get a pound tip! And at Christmas they might say, “There’s five bob, or here’s ten cigarettes for you”. Or they might give me a drink.

‘They all know me as the paperman on Hanlon’s Corner but my wife, she was better known than I was. I was known as the paperlady’s husband. She was the brains behind it all. Very brainy she was and any money that was made, she made it. She had a great personality for listening to people and she’d be down here yapping and yapping. That was here life. You couldn’t keep her away from the corner because she loved to talk. People could tell her their aches and pains and she’d be giving them advice. She used to have about six coats on her and used to smoke sixty or seventy cigarettes a day, even more. Ah, she was great.

‘We had five sons, three daughters and two miscarriages. I used to worry a lot when the kids were younger, when we were poor. I drew a horse in the Irish Sweeps in 1965 and wouldn’t sell it to the bookie up the road there for 3,000 pounds. I kept it. But when the race was over I only got 300 hundred pounds. If you’ve no money you’re not equal in this country. If you’ve no money nobody wants you. It’s what you call “dog eat dog”. The real working people like meself, they’re the best. I’m here in the morning at a quarter past seven. People like to have a bit of a chat and I know nearly all that goes on but there are some people you can’t talk to. Some people are story carriers looking to find out if you knew anything so they could talk about it. You keep your mouth shut, you know? Just play stupid. As me mother always said, “There’s a time to be smart and a time to be stupid”. You have to be a “Yes” man and a “No” man. That’s as far as you go.

 ‘When me wife died people come to us. I got 174 Mass cards. She was well known. When she died we already had the grave bought because one of our sons died when he was only 100 days old. He was born with the caul on his face. So when mother died we buried her with the caul. But I have everything that belonged to her, bar that, all her clothes and boots – everything. We were married 40 years. It’s never the same anymore. It’s OK during the daytime but when I go home I still think she’s alive…. But when I don’t see her there it’s very lonely.

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