Read Patrick’s stories of a childhood filled with innocent fun and mischief in the peaceful and beautiful counties of Monaghan, Roscommon and Wexford.
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All the stories in this collection were broadcast by Radio Eireann between 1959 and 1969. Many of them were accepted by the station’s Features Editor, Francis MacManus, who until his death in 1965 was an unfailing source of encouragement to writers for radio.
Most of the stories are set in my aunt’s public house in Monaghan town where I used to go on holiday as a child. Her pub opposite the Market House was for me a theatre of wild and wonderful characters, full of fun and mischief. The prevailing atmosphere was one of innocence and laughter. Never a day passed without a drama of some sort, a drama that invariably entailed collusion and subterfuge and some ingenuity before it was solved.
A few stories are set in Tarmonbarry, County Roscommon, a little village on the Shannon where my father was Garda Sergeant in the nineteen forties and where I grew up. Tourist cruisers stop there now but in my day the only craft plying the river were barges carrying goods from Limerick and Athlone to Carrick on Shannon.
Life was calm and unhurried like the Shannon itself. Now and then the peace was shattered by the unexpected arrival of a family of travellers. If their arrival coincided with the visit of the Garda Commissioner you had the type of situation described in the Day the Commissioner Came.
The other setting I have used is Broadway, County Wexford, familiar to visitors to the southeast. My father lived there for thirty years after his retirement under the illusion that he was conducting a successful fruit growing and beekeeping business. No man who ever walked the earth had less commercial sense. The title story of the collection and the first story I had broadcast, The End of the Honeyflow, is set in Broadway. Uncle John is based on my father and the father is my Uncle Pat, both now passed on.
These stories were first brought to life on air by the members of the Radio Eireann Rep, among them Niall Toibin, Eamonn Kelly, Seamus Forde and the late Eamonn Keane. They are, I hope, a reminder of a time when life was less complicated than it is today.