Feb 27 2013

The Corpo’…

Published by at 1:44 pm under News

Doesn’t this bring back memories or what? A couple of years ago my brother gave me this for a birthday present. He said that the Corpo’ don’t use them anymore. Well I took one look at it and straightaway I was transported back to a time on Killala Road when the Corpo’ were putting down a new layer of tar on our road. I can still smell the melting tar and see all the smoke coming off it as it was being poured onto the roadway. There was great excitement among us kids as we ran all over the place looking for ice-pop sticks to make torches out of. You see we’d get loads of tar on the top of the stick and then light it off the Gotchie’s fire. Do you remember that fire with it’s red hot coke instead of coal? Our little faces would be roaring red from the heat of it. Well we’d light our sticks and run around as though we had an Olympic torch or something. The ould Corpo’ foreman would be going mad with his roaring and shouting at us to get out of the way in case we got a splash of the hot tar.

The tar came in great big black slabs on the back of a lorry. There was also a big machine on wheels that looked like a combine harvester and it was covered in black melted tar and smoking like the old steam train that used to take us out to Bray on a Sunday in the summer. There was great excitement altogether when that machine turned the corner at the end of our road. It would trundle along, coughing and spitting with hundreds of kids roaring and cheering it to hurry up. Following behind it was a line of Corporation Men with shovels on their shoulders like a troop of soldiers marching to war. They all wore overalls and a cap hanging on to one side of their heads while they whistled and sang as they marched along. What great times they were all the same.

Then when it got dark the Gotchie would take out a whole pile of lanterns, light them and place them along the road where the tar had been laid. And there’d we’d be running up and down the road with our torches glowing in the darkness of the night. We must have looked like something out of a Cavalry film where the Indians come along to burn the Fort down. ‘Watch out lads, here’s Audy Murphy coming down the road‘. What great imaginations we had as children. As the night wore on and each little child headed off to do their ecker for school the next morning the old Gotchie was left alone at last. Out came his Billy Can and his half pack of Lyons Tea and on went his little pot of water to boil. I well remember looking out from our front bedroom window and seeing his fire and cigarette glowing in the darkness of the night. It was a magic time with the embers from the fire glowing up onto his face and casting eerie shadows into his little shelter.

These are some of the things that came into my head as I stood gazing at my birthday present. Thank you to my brother for being so considerate in rescuing this lamp and giving it to me. It now has pride of place in my little back garden and in my memories of years ago.

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