Aug 15 2011

‘The Ould Da’

Published by at 9:43 am under News

This is me ‘ould Da’. He died on this day 22 years ago. He is probably the greatest Dubliner I’ll ever know. He was born in 1912 in a little side street off of Talbot Street. It was called Purden Street and like a lot of old Dublin it’s since long gone and lost to memory. It was situated in the heart of the old Monto and ran between Montgomery Street (Now Foley Street) and  Railway Street. The Da’ knew the streets of Dublin like the back of his hand. He started selling newspapers with his cousin at the age of eight. His mother and granny died when he was only five years old. Later on his stepmother wanted to put him and his brothers into Artane. Thankfully his uncle took him and his five siblings to live with the uncles family of six more kids. They all lived in the one room in a tenement house in Railway Street. He remembers walking with his mother through the ruins of the old GPO in 1916. Like many children of the area he attended Rutland Street School or the ‘Red Brick Slaughterhouse’ as he sometimes called it. He got a very basic education and left when he was twelve to sell newspapers full-time. In 1932 he joined the British Army and served most of his time in Malta and later became embroiled in the Arab Wars of the later 1930s, fighting in Palestine and Egypt. He married my mother in the little tin church in Sean Mc Dermot Street and went on to have eight sons and seven daughters.  My parents moved to Cabra West in the very early 1940s and looked on the new house as if they were living in Buckingham Palace. After a short while without a job my father secured a job as a porter with the Bank of Ireland on College Green, he had to wear the tails and top-hat. Later on he moved to the Hibernian Bank in Dame Street and eventually to Camden Street where he stayed for the next 35 years. My Da’ loved Dublin and had a story for every street, back lane and alley way. His favourite song became ‘Dublin in the rare ould times’. He lived his life to it’s fullest and left behind a great legacey of stories, sayings, slaggings and jokes. Shortly before he died he took my mother for a walk around the old places where they grew up together. He could point out where all the old shops and picture houses were, who lived in what flat and named all the ‘ladies of the Nght’ that he ran messages for as a young boy. He died in Beaumont Hospital and left us all heartbroken and especially the old Ma’  who was lost for his company until the day she too left us to join him and all their childhood pals. The strange thing is that I still miss him as though it was only yesterday when he died. I wrote a little note to myself that morning and I still have it stored away for posterity, it reads ‘Today my hero died’. God bless you Da’…

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