Nov 06 2010

The Coal-Hole

Published by at 12:38 pm under News

God be with the days when the coalman came around on his horse and cart or the deliverymen with their great big lorries stacked with hundreds of sacks of coal. Our coalman, as we called him always had the corner of a sack folded in and placed on his head to protect his hair from all the coal dust. He always reminded me of someone from the films of Robin Hood. The coalmen always appeared to us little kids as great big giants with black faces and black hands. Sometimes great big lumps of black shiney coal would often fall out of the top sacks as the cart or lorry passed by and land on the road.  The kids would dive on the free coal like it was money thrown out at a wedding. Like many of our neighbours in Cabra we kept our coal under the stairs in the Coal-Hole. It meant that we didn’t have to go out into the back yard in the rain to get coal for the fire. The Coal-Hole door had four small holes through it, up near the top. We had a bit of twine in place of a door handle to open it.  One time my older brother threw me and my pal into the Coal-Hole and shoved a chair up against it to stop us from getting out. I had to give my pal a boosh up (Do you remember that word Boosh?) so he could look through the holes to see what my brother was at. There was always a pile of coats hanging on the back of our Coal-Hole door. Sometime when we ran in from school we’d fling our schoolbags in their as well. The gas meter for the kitchen stove was also under the stairs in the Coal-Hole. One time there was a mouse in our Coal-Hole and my younger sister went screaming to my Da’ about it when he came in from work. Later that evening my Da’ decided to have a ‘mouse hunt’. The excitement was great. The Ma’ had the sweeping brush, my brother had a small black shovel, I had one of me Da’s shoes and he had the other ready to clobber the monster mouse in our Coal-Hole with. It has to be remembered that the Coal-Hole was under the stairs and each step of the stairs was clearly visible from inside the Coal-Hole. Anyway the Da’ was down on his hands and knees, head first searching for the mouse.He kept shushing us to be quiet and with great stealth held his weapon ready to crush the mouse with. All was quiet and still until my little sister reached in and caught my Da’ by the ars. Well all hell broke loose as he let out an unmerciful scream of fright thinking the mouse had bit him. But not only that, as the sister touched him he jerked his head upright with fright and smacked it off the steps above. We all scattered for cover in case we had done something wrong and the Ma’ ran up and locked herself in the toilet in a fit of giggles. I’ve never forgotten that episode in our house or the look of frustration on my Da’s face as he came out of the Coal-Hole with his hand on his head covering his newly acquired bump. My younger sister looked up at him and said ‘Well that’s what you do to us’.  Now I don’t know if it’s true or not but someone later said that they could hear the mouse tittering as well. Now, that’s the story of our Coal-Hole.

(I’d like to thank the O’Callaghan family from Bannow Road for allowing me to photograph their Coal-Hole door as I think it may very well be the last of it’s kind left in the area.)

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