By J. Brady
Brendan was born in Thomondgate and went to school in St. Munchin’s, Limerick before spending two years at Limerick C.B.S. It was there he developed an interest in hurling and handball, both of which he played when he came to Kilmurry in 1940. His brother Paddy, now living in Dundalk, was also a keen sportsman while his other brother, Connie, emigrated to Australia. One of Brendan’s best friends was Mickie Morey, who played many a star game for the ‘Bridge. However, Brendan can remember Mickie playing some games with Kilmurry as well.
One of the local traditions that has died out in our generation was the lighting of a bonfire in honour of St. John on the 24th of June every year. On that night, Brendan recalls that the bonfire would be lit near the “Big Tree” without fail and many locals, young and old, would gather there. Of course the tradition got slightly mixed up with the fair of Spancithill and many people congregated at the fire on their return from the fair to discuss the many exciting events that had just taken place there. On other occasions, Owen Moloney would start telling stories under the tree. A young visitor to Brendan’s house at that time, George Beacom, vividly remembers the story of the “Cóiste Bodhar” — the “headless coach”. When the storyteller had finished, George would run down to Brendan’s house, his heart in his mouth, expecting to meet a coach at every turn in the road. The “big Tree” seems to have had a life of its own. Brendan recalls Mick Hannan’s saying: “No matter what hour of the day or night you saluted that tree you’d get an answer from it”. Its three big branches provided shelter from the rain or the sun all through the year.
Transport to matches and sports was always a problem especially during the war years. Mick Neville and Tom Daly solved that problem by walking —
“on Shank’s mare”. Distance was no object to them. Bicycle tyres were extremely scarce in those years so some enterprising locals had an idea. Brendan himself, Johnny Frost and Paddy Tierney set up a local form of transport — “the Rubber Jennet”. Brendan supplied the motor wheels while Johnny had the Jennet. This Jennet was a “flyer” and brought the locals to all matches, tug o’ war and sports meetings within a twenty mile radius. On one occasion fourteen people were transported from Kilmurry to a dance in the old school in O’Callaghan’s Mills. He says that they had a few less on the way back — maybe the little fellow with the arrows was there that night! A local bard put pen to paper in praise of Kilmurry’s “Bianconi” car”
Have you heard about this buggy car.
That has been built of late?
‘Twas built upon two motor wheels
As you can plainly see,
And if you want the builder’s name ‘Twas Brendan Carmody”.
Johnny Frost he cracked his whip,
The ten year old being sour,
And they turned Garret’s corner
At forty knots an hour”.
The verses go on to describe the various adventures that befell them. One verse refers to the law where someone not more than three miles from a pub was not entitled to be served. They were known as “non-travellers”.
Brendan used to play handball in the local “alley”, which was a big flat rock at the quarry near the bridge at Annagore. There would be many exciting duels there after Mass on a Sunday. When the Kilmurry G.A.A. was started officially in 1943 Brendan and Séamas McNamara beat the Newmarket pair in the first handball match on a score 21-19. However, most of his enjoyment came from the field games. One day that was not so enjoyable was when they were “fleeced” above in Gorman’s field playing against Clooney. They won the match but lost many of their valuables. The local priest in the parish heard of their plight and treated them with great hospitality. Brendan’s part in the Kilmurry G.A.A. story can be found elsewhere.
He had another passion also — fishing for pike in the local lakes. He used to go to Fenloe for the angling competitions. Himself and Paddy Tierney were fishing in Mount Cashel lake one day and they landed an enormous pike. They brought him up to Kilmurry where James McNamara weighed him and he topped the scales at over 25 pounds. They hung him up on the tree. Jimbo and Micko Casey happened to be there and they cut him down and brought him home “to make soup”.
By the wall of the present car park at the church stood the “Coach House” which was used by the priest to house his horse and coach. Bill Moore was the last coachman to be employed by Fr. Hayes. The latter was noted for his very interesting sermons and people used to come from neighbouring parishes to hear him. However, the coach house ended up by being a handy shelter for a wet Sunday after Mass. While one building was being knocked down to make more space, a neighbour, Tommy Donnellon, gave the site for the new Kilmurry Hall.
Brendan, Mickey Loughlin and Charlie Lenihan laid many of the early rows of blocks. They were joined by many others and by Christy Carey who took charge of the carpentry. Brendan recalls that Mickey Loughlin was a good hurler with the Clooney Club and a great cross country runner as well.
His training consisted of running in to Ennis from his home near Norrie Henchy’s, working steadily all day, and then running out home in the evening.
Like Brendan himself, Mickey is hale and hearty and is extremely fit for his years. Long may they continue to be so!