Great Cashel personalities look back on their lives

Many Faces of Cashel by Mark Fitzell

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Cashel author and photographer Mark Fitzelle has launched the third volume of his book onthe faces and places of the town.
The following are two excerpts from two of the interviews from two great characters of the town John Joe Maher and Sean O'Duibhir.

John Joe Maher, Mocklershill

“I went over working for a man be the name of Tommy Keating, God be good to him, a nice decent man he was too. A pound a week I was getting, and an auld bit of grub is all was there. Tommy was after getting a motor car and he was showing it to me.
“We were talking and I saw a pony he had. He said to me, you must be fond of animals, I am says I, he asked did I want to buy him. I would says I, but to tell ya the truth I’ve no money and we’ve no money at home. Me poor mother and father had an auld ass but he was after dying and they’d no way of getting anywhere. Me mother had to walk into town or get a lift off a farmer to bring home the few messages. And it’s a long way out of town with bags of messages I’ll tell ya.
“Tommy Keating told me he was selling the pony and trap, and the harness. I asked him what he’d want, I’d have to get 20 pound for the lot he said. I’ll buy him for me mother and father I says, but I’ve no money. But I’ll tell ya what I will do, I’ll work the 20 weeks for ya to put the pony and trap under them. That’s as true as almighty God. Fair enough he said and told me to take away the horse, I won’t says I, I’ll do the 20 weeks work first and not take him a day sooner.
“I had nothing at the time. I couldn’t even go in to watch an auld picture in the cinema. I wore the same clothes Sunday and Monday. But I worked the 20 weeks and put the horse under me father and mother and I’d do the same again in the morning if I had to.’

Sean O’Duibhir’s memories of the 1969 Fleadh Cheoil

“The crowd started coming in fairly handy initially and they all slept in tents. They camped on every square of spare ground, up the Rock, on the cliffs of the Rock, at the back of the Rock and anywhere they could find. Now there were some woful stories about debortuary but I saw none of it.
“It would be hard to visualise the volume of people on the Main Street by Saturday. There were food stalls everywhere. There were numerous venues used around town for the competitions, the Convent Hall, the Tippland Ballroom (Halla na Féile), The Christian Brothers School, the National School on The Green. The standard would be very high with people qualifying for the All Irelands in county and provincial events. But it was what was going on in the streets that appealed to the people travelling to the fleadhs.
“The previous fleadhs had been gaining momentum, but nobody could have anticipated the crowd that turned up in town. In a lot of ways it was a movement, you have to remember that the sixties was very much a decade of liberation.
“And now that I’m of advanced years, it’s still my favourite decade for a lot of reasons. There was a general appeal to the people of the town, for everyone to do a bit of catering. We hadn’t as many fine food establishments in the town then as we do now. Some of the businesses got a bit of a fright with the crowds and closed up shop very quickly, but I stayed open in the chemist and honestly had no bother.
“There was nothing even in town as big in my lifetime and indeed nothing ever as big since.
“Overall the fleadh weekend, for various reasons, will rank as one of the most momentous occasions of my lifetime in Cashel. I can still vividly recollect the Main Street thronged with people with various vendors and hawkers selling food and beverages to the throngs.
The book is on sale in O’Dwyer’s chemist shops and in Friar Street Fuels.