'A prowler tried several houses at 1am ringing one person's doorbell and asking for fags'

Billy O'Riordan writing in this week's Nationalist

Billy O'Riordan

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Billy O'Riordan

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Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

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I still miss the wonderful aroma of apples enveloping the town centre during the autumn months. That was a uniquely Clonmel smell and those of us of a certain vintage will remember it well.

It would strike you, as you entered Emmet Street, intensifying as you neared Dowd’s Lane, the centre of all apple activity. It was known locally as “the crushin” and many a Clonmel man did his stint in Dowd’s Lane, including yours truly.

Everything comes to an end – except for wage increases to TDs – with Dowd’s Lane closing and the syrup (apple) being shipped in from God knows where.

There is some hope for Dowd’s Lane with plans for it to become a Visitor Centre soon.

This will give the old lane a new lease of life and hopefully revive interest in the long tradition of cider making in the county.

This tradition has not gone unnoticed by apple lovers who began an apple festival “Applefest” celebrating all things apple.

This seems a very appropriate initiative for a town steeped in these traditions. What I like about this festival – they are coming thick ‘n’ fast – is its legacy.

After the festival has ended it leaves behind a row of newly planted apple trees for future generations to enjoy. That simple gift to the townspeople is really something to admire and is much appreciated.

When all is said and done, my favourite apple is the one crushed, fermented and poured into and then out of a can.

The nights are closing in on us fast. I’ve begun my computer course with the ETB – who are great by the way – something to keep the brain occupied and challenged.

Soon, I’ll be getting the old chimney swept and ordering a few bags of coal. I do enjoy an open fire; it is very soothing to gaze at the flames licking up the chimney.

Ignore all the cleaning out which comes with having an open fire, hauling in buckets of coal ‘n’ blocks, sweeping up the mess, rummaging around for matches, firelighters and kindling.

No, the whole procedure is worth it on a cold autumn evening. I member as a child the arrival of the chimney sweep was always a big event in our house.

Everything touching the floor had to be covered in old newspapers and all the “good china” was removed. You’d swear the chimney was a nuclear reactor from the amount of care my grandmother and mother took in the days leading up to the sweep’s arrival.

As children we wondered what was this big danger that they could foresee. To us it was a fun day, as we ran out the back waiting for the brush to poke through.

On reflection, it didn’t make a spit of difference to the whole procedure whether we informed the sweep about the brush’s appearance.

It was just a clever way for him to get us out of the way, for a bit.
Afterwards, tea was drunk by the sweep, the rods were tied to the handlebars of his bike and away he cycled.

Then the decontamination began, talk about Covid, you’d think the reactor had reached meltdown.

All my mother and grandmother talked about were “smuts” which seemed to be everywhere and deadly. After several days they seemed content to relax in the living room once more, occasionally running a finger along a random surface while muttering “smut”. As I said, the evenings are darker, and the nights are much colder.

I live in the Glenconnor area of the town which is generally very quiet and away from the town’s night-time hurly burly.

Yet, last evening a neighbour informed me that a prowler had tried several houses at 1am ringing one person’s doorbell and asking for “fags”. He sneaked into someone’s garden and then disappeared.

The local guards arrived after he had legged it. The guards are under resourced and overworked, so don’t assume a guard will appear at your doorstep within minutes of a call.

Lock your door at night, switch on outside lights and don’t answer the door to anyone. The guards will respond to your call.
This individual was brazen and fearless, so just be alert.

In our neighbourhood we now have to take extra precautions at night, this is the consequence of crime. You change your habits and your guard in now up. Until next time.