TIMES PAST

Leaving Anne Street - a reminiscence on one of Clonmel's most iconic streets

Mary Cahill recalls happy childhood days

Leaving Anne Street - a reminiscence on one of Clonmel's most iconic streets

Children playing Anne Street c. 1958. Mary Cahill is third from left with her much loved spinning top

Clonmel woman Mary Cahill looks back on her years living in Anne Street in Clonmel.

Just over one year ago on  September 10 my four sisters and I finally parted with our family home in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. 

We had spent the previous few weeks doing the final clearance trying to find new homes for the accumulated family history of nearly one hundred years.

 In 1950 our mother, Carmel Johnston, had come from Roscommon to Clonmel to work, met our father Billy and moved into this old house with her new husband, our grandfather, a one-eyed cat called Nelson and a dog called Lassie.

The house, one of 24 in two terraces of twelve built c. 1815, with its lanes and trees was a village in itself. 

Our Dad was born there in 1925. On that day a young man named Michael Cullinan delivered the milk as he would continue to do daily from the churns on his ginnet-drawn cart for the next 60 years or more. 

On one occasion when inquiring about the current marital status of our mother’s five daughters, none of whom were in any hurry to wed, Michael declared - ‘I don’t know what you’ll do with all those girls Mrs Cahill, I think you’ll have to raffle them!’ 

Anne Street was a street of multi-generational families, friends and neighbours - a cul-de-sac with its own green area we called The Top where children of all ages could play especially in summer where our summer games of cricket and rounders were played to a set of rules unknown outside the street. 

Concerts and plays were produced and directed on a stage set between two tall lime trees with curtains borrowed from one house or another. 

If we were bored with the street we could wander to St Patrick’s Well, the Rag Well or to the Holy Year cross on the top of the Comeragh hill on the other side of the river Suir venturing unaccompanied by any adult deep into the county Waterford.

 For the annual Corpus Christi procession an altar was set up at the end of the street at the corner of Grattan Place and O‘Néill Street with each family contributing an altar cloth, a statue, a vase, flowers or in our case a pair of brass candlesticks. 

As children we toured the town following the route of the procession assessing all the shrines and altars set up in the windows of shops and houses always coming to the inevitable conclusion that our altar was the best of all. 

This photo shows a group of children on one of those summer days and reminds me so much of a wonderful childhood with all our neighbours from No 1 to No. 24 - the Brownes, McCalls, Cullens, Barretts, Nurse O’Brien, Watchorns, O’Dwyers, Kennedys, Whites, Cahills, Morrisseys, Wallaces, O’Donnells, Gavins, Miss Masterson, Nolans, Walshs, Bradys, Ryans, Russell, Kielys, Stapletons, the Misses Bowles, and Moores. 

Today only the Kiely family remain in Anne Street.