Feb 21 2015

‘Those were the days my friend…’

Published by at 1:25 pm under News

Noels Finbars School photo 1958 fx  -1

This is a school photograph of my brother Noel taken in Saint Finbar’s School in 1958. I’m sure you can tell straightaway that his coat wasn’t made-to-measure  for him in Burton’s of O’Connell Street and neither was the shirt. They were most likely bought by my mother over in the Ivy Market in the hope that they’d fit at least one of us at home. You only got new clothes back then for your First Holy Communion and Confirmation and even then they were later sent off to the Pawn Shop and the money used to pay back the Jewman or the Providence Cheque. But do you know what it is, to us kids back then it really didn’t matter where any clothes came from as long as they almost fitted us and kept us warm. But who ever knew where any clothes came from? Sometimes we’d be told that they came from the older cousins in town or somewhere like that and even the idea of that was a bonus because you felt you were grown up the same as the older cousin.

I know that the Ma’ often sent some of our old clothes up to a woman on Broombridge for her kids. Now I have to tell you that after we were finished with any of our clothes there was never much left of them to wear. And that’s the way it was back then. I remember the Ma’ buying me a pair of secondhand shoes over in the market in Francis Street and the heels were all worn down on one side. I remember pointing this out to her and she told me that was the latest fashion and of course I believed her as was the way years ago. If the Ma’ or Da’ said something it was true, never mind what anyone else said.

I remember after the sister went to England to become a nurse she used to send home parcels of secondhand clothes from the hospital for us. Now this was at a time when no-one else around got great big parcels from England and so we were always the envy of the other kids on our road. There we’d be swanking it around in a blazer from some English Comprehensive School or other and shoes that we had to stuff newspaper in the toe of so that they’d fit us better. And if you wore a pair of braces to hold up your trousers you always put them on over your jumper because they’d be stretched from maybe the Da’ or someone else wearing them.

And when you got to your teenage years you’d be looking for the older brother’s cleanest dirty shirt to wear to impress some Moth or other. But do you know what the gas thing was, we’d put our Longers under the mattress to get a crease down the leg of them. Never mind the Hoppers or the Fleas this was a serious business of Mothin’. Sure the girls were no different either. I remember the sisters fighting over a blouse or a pair of nylons that didn’t have a ladder in them. Then there was fighting over the Ma’s hairnet when they’d be going to bed because they wanted to hold the Curlers in place while they were asleep.

Wait a minute, I think I can hear a song coming on…’That’s why they call me Second Hand Rose…’




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