Saturday, November 26, 2011
Apparently my face changes as soon as I cross the river Shannon. I am home in Roscommon and a smile spreads across my face as broad as the river in spate.
And it’s true. Even on route to Galway, I savour the stretch between Athlone and Ballinasloe as though it basked in the only patch of sunlight in the whole of Ireland. In that second passing by the familiar road to Kiltoom, Lecarrow, Knockcroghery and home, my eye travels the first half mile and I am back to school and college years and for a few moments I’m in a wash of the carefree feelings of that time.
I suppose that’s what it is: I had a privileged childhood, an easy and safe passage; my parents gave us that. Happiness made home and I’m carrying it still.
Main St in the photograph is Main Street as I best remember it. My grandmother had a butcher’s shop, Connollys, where the car on the right-hand side is parked. There were some treasure troves on the street: Finns toyshop just beyond Morris’s was our source of Lucky Bags, ( all the money I spent on those surprises !); Higgins where that bread lorry is visiting: I can smell that delivery, Kellys Bread sliced and unsliced; I had a particular fondness for the small Hovis pan. In a tiny space Nelly Higgins had grocery, newspapers, a bar and a press full of toys.
Further up on the right, Smiths (out of view) with petrol pumps outside the door; do they still make Charms sweets? I bought my first proper books in Morris’s, Treasure Island, Coral Island etc and started a small collection. But best of all was Josey Kerrigan’s under the Bush sign, a small cave chock a block with appliances and wonders of all sorts and on a good day Josey would demonstrate a gizmo just in with the greatest of pride. Wherever you are Josey, my guitar sounds as good today as the day it left your shop all those years ago.