This old photo – courtesy of Waterford Co. Museum – show locals enjoying their bottles of Guinness in Ciss Kirwan’s pub in Bonmahon Co Waterford, Ireland c 1950. I grew up not half a dozen miles from Bonmahon, and I think it is my favourite spot in the world. Well it was until we visited LA last year! A seaside village in what is now called The Copper Coast region, it was in its heyday in the 19th C a thriving copper-mining area. Then the copper ran out and all that eventually was left was a warren of mineshafts and a decaying main street where most of the houses had either fallen down or were knocked down. Once the copper had gone most of the people left too.
I t was our mecca in the summer though; we cycled there most Summer Sundays, content to play football and other games on the long sandy beach or climb the pathways to the gently rising cliffs at either end of the village. The river Mahon split it in two and a cumbersome old metal bridge also provided further opportunites to clamber between the struts and girders hidden beneath the tarmac and cement laid on top of them.
As we got older we took our transistor radios with us and listened to the velvet tones of Brian Hyland as we sat on the rocks overlooking the bay. I only met you just a couple of days ago/I only met you and I want your lovin’ so Jeannie come lately, you may have come lately/ But you’re the one for me. Or Susan Maughan. I want to be Bobby’s girl, I want to be Bobby’s girl/ That’s the most important thing to me/ And if I was Bobby’s girl, if I was Bobby’s girl/ What a happy faithful girl I’d Be.Of course it wouldn’t be long before the girls appeared, insinuating themselves between us. I am sure it was all planned where they would sit, but at the time we didn’t have sense enough to cop on, thus many an opportunity of a bit of innocent canoodling was missed. Part of the enjoyment was going to Ciss Kirwan’s and stuffing ourselves with bottles of Cidona and bags of Tayto crisps.
Yes, glory days.