A Tour Around My Memory
The Away Game | Micky McArdle | Abu Dhabi, buy United Arab Emirates | Blog 006 | 13 September 2014
Strolling Around D’Alton Drive Salthill in the 70s…
Back in April, I wrote a blog about street soccer in Salthill, “The D’Alton Football Academy,” (see: http://www.salthilldevon.ie/street-soccer-salthill/) and it seemed to stir up some nostalgia and brought some of the protagonists and street-stars out onto the virtual street again. Martin McDermott and Val Murray got in touch. Martin contacted me through Martin Ridge and we’ve exchanged some memories on Facebook and by e-mail. Coincidentally, he’s just moved to Amman, Jordan, a place where I have had the good fortune to spend over four years. Val contacted me yesterday to ask if my piece could be included in a book to be published by the Glenard Residents Association that is producing a book to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the estate.
I thought it might be worth another trip down Memory Lane or, more specifically, a stroll around D’Alton Drive in the 70s to recall some of the families that made it a wonderful neighbourhood in which to grow up.
A little background first. We moved into 22 D’Alton Drive in 1965 when I was 8: Dad, Mam, Máire and I. Having moved from Dublin, we spent an idyllic year in Bearna – we lived in 1 Seapoint before the Ty Ar Mor Restaurant (now O’Grady’s On The Pier) was even conceived – before Dad fortuitously managed to buy our home for the princely sum of £4,500. He was on his way back after lunch to work in Corbett’s of Wellpark when he dropped into Brennan’s site office to be told that someone had pulled out and one house was available. Knowing a thing or two about good construction, he didn’t hesitate.
With all our neighbours, we were the first owners and residents of D’Alton Drive. Despite many moves over the years, D’Alton Drive remained my spiritual home for those formative years of my life. I lived there from 1965 until I first left it in 1981 to move to Limerick. I was back for a few years until I left again in 1984, never again to live there despite the aching draw that it had for me. Maybe, once John Herrick finished his stint as manager of the Salthill Devon Senior Team in 1984, the music died and it was time to move on forever.
I’m going to stroll around now and see who’s in each house. I’ll ignore the few new houses on the right that were built after I left in what was McGrath’s field.
No.6. Villo, Woodman family. There was a factory in Mervue known as Potez that, I think, went out of business to be taken over by SPS (Standard Pressed Steel). An American family, the Villos, moved into No. 6 and I used to hang out – that being an American term – with young Michael Villo. I remember that, one Christmas, they put up a huge tree in the front garden, resplendent with lights. Outdoors! We had never seen the like. In time they moved back to the States.
The Woodmans moved in. The father, Kieran, was a professor in college. The children were Kieran, Rory, Dara, Brona and Fiachra. There was another girl but I can’t recall her name. The lads were all good soccer players. Rory, as I mentioned in my earlier blog, was an excellent player. Dara studied engineering and went to Canada as did many of my class in the early 80s.
No. 8 Finnegan family. I seem to recall two elderly ladies living here but, with no children in the house, I didn’t really know them.
No. 10 Colleran family. Colleran’s had the butcher shop in town and John senior became a councillor later. Mary was mother to John, Raymond and Paul and there were two younger girls too. I used to see John playing some ball in the cages some years back.
No. 12 Smithwick family. Noel and Marie had three girls of which Orla was the eldest.
No. 14 Fogarty family. Fintan and Annie Fogarty had 6 children: Padraic, Mary, Margaret, Des, Noel and Collette. Coincidentally, they also lived in Bearna, just up the road from us in No. 4. Corbetts, at that time, owned the last four houses on the pier. Fintan worked in Corbetts Department Store in town.
No. 16 Coogan family. Nuala Coogan (née Kelly) used to run the Hibernian Bar at the top of Eyre Square (between the Skeff and the corner). She was Stan and Greg’s aunt, originally from Bullaun. She married Mick Coogan and, not only were Greg Kelly, Mícheál McLoughlin and I altar boys at her wedding, we were also invited to the reception where, with the wedding proceeds, we bought and puffed away on a pack of Consulates. Nuala was always great fun and a pleasure to chat to when I’d come home. They had two children, Kenneth and Anne-Marie. Mick was a rep for Guinness Group Sales.
No. 18 Hanahoe family. Under the careful stewardship of Joe, Hanahoe’s had the best garden. He was a great friend to Dad and helped with our interminable battles with our large back garden. Joe and Maura lived there with Anne, Margaret, Noreen, John and Helen. They were wonderful neighbours and friends.
No. 20 Murphy family. Bridie Murphy was a widow and carpet-fitter who moved from Lower Abbeygate Street. She had two older children, Teddy and Wally. Teddy never lived there but Wally taught at Kylemore and lived there until she married Roland and moved to Dublin where they had two children, a boy – Roland – and a girl. I used to cut Bridie’s lawn, front and back every week and she was very kind to me. Tragically, she was killed in a traffic accident at the intersection of D’Alton Drive and Dr Mannix Road some years after I left.
No.22 McArdle family. Michael, Eileen, Máire (now Kelly) and me. A blissful time. Dad, originally from Loughrea, was delighted to be back in Galway. Mam, a true Dub, came to love Galway and her wonderful and kind neighbours on D’Alton Drive.
No. 24 Fives family. Jim and Julie (we called her Judy) were lovely next-door neighbours. They had five Fives: Karen, Kieran, Anne-Marie, Allyn and Aonghus. Jim was in the army and played hurling for Waterford. Judy lectured in UCG. Kieran, although younger, used to drop in to play football regularly.
No. 26 Devilly family. Paddy and Kathleen moved here from Williamstown where Paddy taught. I was very friendly with Declan growing up. He was a great man to build a tree-house or a go-cart. He was the youngest; Maura, Angela and Imelda were his sisters.
No. 28 Quinn, Ward families. Most houses seemed to have permanent residents but this one seemed to turn over every few years. Diarmuid Quinn, a fine Donegal soccer player, lived here Then the Wards lived here. Joe, fiery-tempered, often showed up to kick a ball around. There were sisters here too, Norma and Siobhán, but whether they were Quinns or Wards, I can’t remember. Joe’s father was a guard, stationed at Salthill.
No. 30 Gallen family. Mick and Eithne Gallen had four children: Fidelma was the eldest and only girl. The lads were quite a bit younger. Mick was with the AA and, on many an occasion, got my ailing VW Derby or Jetta back on the road.
No.32 McDermott family. Frank and Maureen McDermott were a lovely couple. Their three children were Mary (who married “Blue” Ward, remembered by me for the unusual moniker), Declan and Martin. Martin played soccer with us and, as I said, I just recently came back into contact with him. He’s now in Jordan.
No. 34 Connolly, Cryan families. The Connollys were just there a short time but I remember a lad called Michael, about Martin McDermott’s age. They were one of the first families to move out. The Cryans then moved in. They were more elderly and had a grown-up family.
No. 36 Kelly family. Michael and Maura Kelly had a large family: Leonard, Hilary-Anne, Marilyn, Greg and Stan. Greg and I were best friends for a long time and Stan also played with us on the street. Coincidentally, I met a guy in Abu Dhabi recently who told me that Greg is his boss at the National Museum at Collins Barracks.
No. 38 Gillen family. Seán and Pauline Gillen also had a large family, some of whom were grown up when I was a child: John, Anne, Margaret, Mark, Dominic and Rosemary. Dominic was part of our group although, it’s fair to say, soccer wasn’t his strong point. Seán was Roscommon County Manager at the time.
No. 25 McLoughlin family. Crossing the road, near the back entrance to the Ardilaun Hotel, we meet Michael and Maura McLoughlin. He was the County Dental Officer, having moved from Ballina. They had five sons: Ambrose (recently retired from a big job at the Department of Health); John, an engineer in Dublin, Peter, Mícheál, a good friend and priest, and Theo. It was Mícheál who defied Ardilaun manager, Tom McCarthy-O’Hea, by cutting the padlock and chain he has put on the gates to prevent us from using their grounds to cycle to school. I have the photo.
No. 23 Broder family. Tom and Nan Broder had two children, a boy, Alan (?), and a girl, Anne-Marie (?). They were quite a bit younger.
No. 21 Moran family. Tom and Etta Moran lived here but moved. As far as I remember, they had no children while here.
No. 19 Wood family. Ah, the irrepressible Dolly Wood. Although originally from Galway, she had lived for a long time in England and had a very grand accent and a hearty laugh that you could hear all over the street. She lived here with her husband, Joe, who had retired from Lucas. He was one of the first people I remember dying on D’Alton Drive. They had two sons, John Oliver and David. David was great fun and well able to stand up to admonishing adults. I think John lectured in Cork while David went to Malawi.
No.17 Murphy family. Peter Murphy has the electrical shop. They had a few boys; Joseph was one. There may have been a girl too but they were all younger than I was.
No. 15 O’Connor, Foley families. It all starts to get fuzzy from here on. Originally, I think there was a Christy O’Connor living here. There was also a girl called Carol living here. They moved and the Foleys moved in from Rockbarton: Joe, Tom and their sister. Joe and Tom played a bit of soccer although, for Joe, it was probably in the Park Villa era. I think he was in the same class in the Bish as Dec Devilly and Kieran O’Mahony.
No. 13 Fitzgerald family.This was another house whose occupants changed regularly. I remember the American lads, Maurice Fitzgerald and his brother Peter. When we were getting around on second-hand bikes, the brothers Fitzgerald had racers with speedometers. I think the father was a professor. There were a couple of sisters, Una being one. They moved to Newcastle.
No. 11 ? I’m drawing a blank, mostly because there were no children to play with.
No. 9 ? And again…
No. 7 Brennan family. Did Stella Brennan, who married Brendan Bowyer, live here or get married from here? I remember some connection but it could have been in any of these houses at this end of the road.
No. 5 Corvan family. I seem to recall a man called Derry Corvan (?), a beautiful Spanish wife and a little boy. He may have worked at UCG.
No. 3 Booth family. There was a family called Booth who lived here. I think he was a butcher and they may have had a daughter. (Vinny Booth?)
No. 1 Sharkey, Molloy families. Austin Sharkey was, I think, Galway County Manager. He and his wife lived here before Bobby Molloy and his new wife, Phyllis, moved in. When Bobby was a government minister, he had a full-time Garda presence, in a Hillman Avenger, outside the house.
©Michael McArdle, 2014