The Mallow Grouch

So, that’s it for another year, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say ‘good riddance to 2011’. It was a year of torment for those who lost their jobs, and fear and trepidation for those who still had a workplace to go to. The negativity which prevails at the moment is dragging us down and the national morale is at an all time low. The arrival of the new year is supposed to be a time of new beginnings and bright hopes for the future, so maybe it’s time to stick our chin out and say “feck the begrudgers”. How you can do that when you’ve lost your job, I don’t know, but we can’t continue to wallow in misery like we have been.


New Year’s Eve passed quietly enough, apart of course from the fireworks and bangers that reduced our dog to a nervous wreck. It’s hard to celebrate new year when your big horse of a dog is sitting bolt upright on your lap, ears back and eyes out like stalks. Traditionally new year’s eve is quiet in Mallow, and as far back as I can remember there wasn’t much happening, apart from the days when I was a kid and people poured out of Golden’s, Nellie Copps’, Murphy’s, the Hawk’s and other pubs, and did an impromptu and boozy dance around the Little Man in the Fountain which in those days was in place in front of the Clock House. When the ‘Little Man’ was hit by a vehicle in the late 1960s and the structure was removed the focal point of the midnight celebration was gone, and it all became a bit half-hearted, though even at its height it hardly rivalled Trafalgar Square for excitement.

As I got older, the new year was usually celebrated in some pub or other, Joan Dinan’s, the Crock o’ Gold, the Capitol, Fitzie’s, the Central Hotel, O’Keeffe’s, and then we usually wandered on up to the Hi-B for the New Year’s Eve dance (you couldn’t just wander in late nowadays, as by all accounts the queues for Club Lite were huge on New Year’s Eve!)

Sometimes in a change with routine, we headed out to the Majestic Ballroom for their big New Year’s Eve dance which usually featured Brendan Shine, and not being a big fan of the country and western showband scene, I usually had my lobby well washed down by the end of the night. Of course the best of all was the annual Christmas/new year visit to City Hall by the one and only Rory Gallagher, and we joined the thousands of denim jeans and check shirt-wearing fans at the best rock gig of the year! For me it beat the hell out of Brendan Shine, but not everyone would share that view!


Television in Ireland turned 50 this year and I must be getting old because I can remember the excitement it generated at a time when only one house on my street had a TV, so we made sure we were extra friendly with the children of the house so we could wangle an invite to see programmes such as ‘Daithí Lacha’, ‘Blaithín’ or ‘Amuigh Faoin Spéir’. It was about 1964/65 before we got a television in our house. It was a PYE television, a very popular make at the time, and had valves at the back which had to warm up before you got a picture. Unlike tellies today, the picture used to slip, which meant that it started to roll like a drum, and we spent a lot of time twisting the ‘vertical hold’ button at the back as we tried to stabilise the picture. Televisions in those days were very expensive, so people rented them from local shops such as Kellehers or RTV Rentals.

Colour television didn’t arrive for several years, and when it did you could see crowds of people outside Kelleher’s which usually had a colour TV on display in the window. We were mad anxious to get a colour television, but like most families it was out of our reach so we used to sneak in the back alley of Nellie Copps’ pub where there was a television room, and we enjoyed colour programmes until we were spotted and hunted back out into Bridewell Lane.

It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the 1960s there was only one television channel, though our telly had 4 buttons for channels. RTE used to begin at 6p.m. with the Angelus, and finish at around 11p.m. with the National Anthem. It wasn’t until 1978 that we got a second channel with the launch of Network 2 (now RTE 2), and it took another decade before multichannel finally arrived. Nowadays of course viewers can access hundreds of channels, not just in analogue, but in high definition and even in 3D, but nothing today can match the excitement of seeing the first man walk on the moon in 1969, or being woken by my mother in the middle of the night to watch Muhammad Ali fight Joe Frazier!


Check out the picture above. That, dear reader is a metal object sticking out of the ground in Bridewell Lane, which my car grazed against the day before Christmas Eve, resulting in a reefed tyre and a bill for €80 for a replacement. Christmas is expensive enough without having to find an extra €80, not to mind a tyre company still open so near to Christmas. The metal protuberance at one stage housed a traffic sign, but with the sign long gone, surely it’s negligent in the extreme to leave such a dangerous piece of metal in a narrow lane where any passing motorist is running the risk of damaging his or her car, or any pedestrian could be sent flying if they don’t spot the low-lying obstruction. Whoever’s in charge of this, let’s fix it now!


By all accounts, Tuesday’s budget meeting in the Town Hall was a lively affair. I was so sorry to have to miss it, being chained to my desk most Tuesdays in preparation for publication of this paper. As readers of the front page will know by now, the council deferred a vote on the budget, mainly because it would have been beaten, so they will meet again next Wednesday, the spice being that if they fail to agree by Friday, the council could be disbanded. If that happened, an outside administrator would be appointed and local democracy would be lost, so the councillors have a very good incentive to come to an accommodation. If only I could have attended on Tuesday, fans of the Council Sketch could have had a great read, particularly as it is alleged that at one stage a councillor called another something which rhymes with brick!