Mar 12 2008

Stories from Home

Published by at 10:19 am under News

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My brother Noel Coffey who now lives in England told me this story: ‘We used to go down to the Mater Hospital after school. I was in Finbar’s at the time and we used to go down to the Mater to visit the dead. Meself and me pals, about four or five of us would go. There was Jaycee Quinn, Christie Quinn, Danny Mitchell, Fat Crawley and Sabbo Norton. That was our gang . We’d walk down to the morgue after school because there was always someone laid out. We couldn’t always see into the coffins because some of them were up on a high stand. We used to give each other a bunk up and we were after the pennies. What they used to do when you went there if the eyes were slit open they’d put pennies on them so people wouldn’t see the eyes open. Sometimes we couldn’t reach up into the coffin. We’d put our hands up because we couldn’t see and we’d be feeling. ‘Ah that’s the toe…go to the other end’. We used to go down and there used to be Nuns praying and they’d be praying at the coffin. We’d be saying ‘when are they going to finish praying’ because it might be worth hanging on if there was a few pennies. We’d always buy sweets with the pennies on our way home to Cabra.’

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Ambrose ‘Diamond’ O’Shea

When Ambrose O’Shea from 102 Killala Road (Diamondville as it is locally known) in Cabra West developed a love of music in his early teens little did he know then how much this passion would eventually spread out world-wide and touch so many other peoples lives. Like most young teenagers of his era Ambrose was introduced to the music scene through School and Church Halls where the local Priest ran a very strict and disciplined dance night. Originally the music for these early dances was supplied by a local DJ who played vinyl records to a group of teenage boys and girls who gyrated around the dance floor. Further afield were Saint Peter’s Hall and The Charleville that mainly played viynl also. Ambrose then upgraded to dance venues around Dublin City where live bands were all the rage. In his local school Ambrose would dance to the music of such live bands as The Sandmen, The Granny’s Intentions and The Movement. His love of music was very much enhanced by listening to the viynl record collection belonging to his older brother Gerry who was resident DJ in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital for almost 18 years.

Ambrose was first introduced to the music of legendery singer Neil Diamond through the Johnnie Cash television show in the early 1970’s. He went out immediatley to his nearest record store and bought the Neil Diamond Gold LP and he has never looked back since. This was to be the start of a Neil Diamond collection that would eventually take Ambrose O’Shea half way around the world, see him appearing on National Television programmes, radio shows and newspaper interviews talking about his love and passion for all things Neil Diamond. Ambrose is quick to point out that he does not run a Neil Diamond Fan Club but encourages and facilitates fans world-wide who are serious collectors of Neil Diamond memorabilia or who may want to swap and share information on this incredible artist. His own private collection includes some 200 LP’s including 52 official Neil Diamond LP’s, 200 CD’s and every vinyl record ever released relating to Neil Diamond. There are over one thousand pieces of music in this collection, now that’s a serioius collection for someone like Ambrose who has attended 22 Neil Diamond concerts over the years. His most favourite and treasured pieces in his entire collection of Neil Diamond memorabilia are a photograph of himself and Neil together and pair of signed drumsticks from Neil Diamond’s band from the 1999 tour in the Point Depot, Dublin. Ambrose met Neil Diamond before this gig and had his photo taken with him. He was later handed signed drumsticks from Neil’s drummer. In 1989 Ambrose was handed a signed Neil Diamond programme from Linda Press backstage in the RDS after an interview he did on the Gay Byrne hour outside of Dublin’s Westbury Hotel with radio presenter Joe Duffy.

Ambrose is very active in encouraging Neil Diamond Tribute Artists from around the world to come to Dublin to perform for audiences here. He recently travelled to San Diego in California to see Tribute Artist David J. Sherry perform and then dropped into Los Vegas to see another Tribute Artist, Jay White in action on stage. ‘I will do anything I can to promote Neil’s music in Ireland and there is no better way when Neil is not touring but to see a Tribute Artist. ‘It has been a great honour for me to be invited by David J. Sherry to see him perform live in San Diego’. Dublin’s Evening Herald newspaper published a story about this amazing journey across America by Ambrose O’Shea. Ambrose is quite capable of talking non stop about his passion of all things Neil Diamond. Believe it or not he has even named one of his daughters Caroline after the Neil Diamond hit ‘Sweet Caroline’. What you may well ask is his all time favouirite Diamond song…’I am, I said’…Ambrose admits is one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded.

Neil Diamond wrote at least four hit songs for the 1960’s group The Monkees and almost every prominent singer from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra have recorded at least one of Diamond’s songs. He has sold no less than 120 million records worldwide. If you are interested in some or all things Neil Diamond you can contact Ambrose at ambroseoshea@hotmail.com or check out www.diamondville102.net. Ambrose is in almost daily contact with over 1,000 other Neil Diamond fans worldwide. What are Ambrose’ plans for the future? Well he is determined to meet those members of Neil Diamond’s backing group that have so far slipped through the Fan’s net. He will of course continue to promote Neil Diamond at home and abroad to ensure that ‘A Diamond in the rough is a Diamond sure enough’.

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paddy-mcgrath-dingle-road-march-1950-cabra-108.jpg Paddy Mc Grath, 114 Dingle Road, Cabra West.

My Name is Paddy Mc Grath and I was born in December of 1939. We lived in 114 Dingle Road in Cabra West during the late 1940’s and 1950’s. There were nine children altogether in our house. Bried was the eldest, then Paddy (that’s me), Marie, Chrissie, Michael, Joan, Noel, John and Francis. I went to Finbarr’s School and Mister Murphy was the headmaster. His cane on a cold morning would soon wake you up. I also remember Hitler Mc Guire with his ruler. He left welts on your hands and put the fear of God into everyone. I remember Mister O’Halloran with his leather strap and his tongue hanging out but he never really hurt us at all. Lanky Williams was another teacher we had. He slept all day and never paid attention to anyone. When I was at school Alfie Byrne was the Lord Mayor of Dublin. He introduced the current buns into the schools and we got them on Wednesday. We thought it was Christmas every week. On seeing your picture of the Precious Blood Church it reminded me of how I used to end up outside the Church every time because I used to faint inside. I made my Confirmation there in 1950. I had to go to the photographic studio in Henry Street to have my picture taken. I used to go to the Navan Road to get the rhubarb every week for the Ma’. Looking back now it was all good fun. Cabra had the best football team in Dublin. The name of it was Saint Bernard’s. In the 1955-56 season under 16’s we won the treble, the league, the cup and the juvenile cup. Our main rivals were Home Farm, Johnville and Carrow Celtic. We used to love playing at Home Farm’s ground because they had showers (lovely). Two seasons earlier we won the under 14’s title beating none other than The Leprechauns. They were managed by Dickie Giles whose son John was starting out on the road to fame. He played inside left. Our manager was Paddy O’Brien from Carnlough Road, bike and all. Our team was as follows: Bartle O’Brien, Donal Ryan (Capt), Sonny Carroll, Freddie Sweeney, Paddy Mc Grath (me), Noel O’Loughlin, Pat Ratcliffe, Mick White, Jimmy Morrissey, Nedser English and Gino O’ Reilly. I remember Mister Groves from Killala Road used to sell the newspapers outside Eason’s in O’Connell Street. At Christmas time we all looked forward to going to the parties at the Grove’s house where we could stuff ourselves with loads of food. We had Father Burke as our Parish Priest in the Precious Blood, one hour Mass. Father ‘Flash’ Kavanagh only took ten minutes. That was the Mass all the young ones went to. We had an open air swimming pool where we used to go every summer. It was just past Broombridge and across the fields and it was free. My Grandfather used to run the Cattle Market in Prussia Street. He was Eddie Mitchell from Rathoath Road. On our way down to the Manor Picture House we used to go into his house to get the price of the pictures, if we were lucky. Cabra was a great place to grow up, no money but good friends. To name but a few of many: Mick Mitchell, Alfie and Brendan Groves (Killala Road), Willie Hill, Oscar French, Paddy Cahill and the Lennon’s from Dingle Road. Up West Cabra Albions whose manager was Dickie Bennett (R.I.P). ‘Keep the ball on the ground’.

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