When the first of November would arrive, I would look forward to my gun and dog. I would be meeting Arthur Kavanagh and Willie Carroll and we would hit off through the country. We were happy when we had a few birds each.
I remember one day when the shooting season started. I remember being in the Quarry field with my late father, God rest him, when Arthur Kavanagh arrived and wanted me to come with him. I remember the look on my father’s face. I could not go with him that day. I remember on a frosty winter’s night, Arthur and I decided to go to Annagh Bog to get a goose. We went at about half past five. Then we arrived and took our positions and the birds started to come in. Arthur asked ”Will we fire?”. If we missed they would take off. I took a chance and downed, but it was out in the water. I was young and lively and went into the water. I went to my neck in a rampart and Arthur had to pull me out. I was soaked and all I could was to strip off and ring out our clothes and come home. And, I did not get a cough or cold from it. My dog was always a cocker. Once I had a half-bred cocker, bred off a Jack Russell. He was one of the best dogs I ever had.
I was over at the late James Barry’s one day in a place called the ”Knapp”. This was a mound of Sally trees. It was always a very fruitful place for a bird or two. I came to a place where there was a spring and I saw two ducks. I eyed the drake for he was a grand colour and so I brought him down. Then I’ll never forget it when I heard ”Hey, Hey”. I looked around and it was Mr. Barry. I said to myself ”Will I run or will I stay?”. I decided to stay and I said sorry to Mr. Barry. I said ”I’m trespassing ”and he replied ”No, you are a gentleman, you stood your ground when I called”.I offered him my drake hoping he would not take it. And he told me to hold on to it. The late James Barry did a lot of shooting himself but he did not like any person shooting on his lands. He had a very loud commanding voice. He knew me and I got away with it.
Seanog’s Bridge – This is a bridge over the Awbeg. In my young days this was a great place for fishing. It was a great trout river. The late Dick Bowles was a great fisherman. He used to fish with his hands. There was a lot of growth in the river but the water was clean. All the neighbours used to go down there on Sundays – the late Tim Flaherty, Dan Noonan, the Callaghans, the Donovans ,the Coughlans and the Dolans. It was a great gathering place and it was also a great place to catch eels. Also, the late Denny Stack was a great fisherman with his rod and line. I’d say he had his supper every night he went there. Seanog’s Bridge was a twenty two foot leap. It was called after Sean for he was able to leap in one go. There was a little stick across it when I first saw it. It was built in 1929 and my late father brought the gravel with a horse and butt. I recently had an operation on my knee and I look forward to going to see it again, please God, and say a prayer for everyone that crossed that bridge.
Scanlon’s hole was up the river. It was a great place for swimming. My late brother Mick was a frequent swimmer there. Also the late Nat Simcox used to swim there. It got it’s name from a famine time story. When the famine was at it’s height and potatoes were like gold, a Scanlon man saw a crow steal a potato from his crop. He immediately followed the bird as he flew away. Then he fell into this deep stretch and was drowned.
Going to school – it was a long walk. At the creamery time we used to go in the creamery carts and we would walk home. If the weather was fine we would take off our shoes and tie the two together and throw them across our back and walk away.
I remember over by Davy Dwane’s house, there was an old woman living there. Mary Shanahan was her name and she lived alone. She had four apple trees but there was one apple tree that would tempt Saint Peter. We were always keeping an eye if she was around the yard. One evening we were going home from school and we met her walking into the village. Now there was a place called the ”broken gap” and she could take a short cut. We said this was our chance. In we went and we were up on the tree. I must have been on top of that tree. Bob Donovan and my brother Mick hopped it straight away. I got caught and I can tell you she had a fair good pair of boots and she said she would report us to the schoolmaster. The following day going to school we did not hear a word but the following morning after the roll call we heard ”Michael Fitzpatrick, Bob Donovan and Paddy Fitzpatrick, Come immediately from Mr. ” . He asked us ”Were they nice?”and then he asked us had we any one for him. ”Look”he said ”Ye did wrong” but we got away with it.
The month of May was always special to me. Until recently I used to grow my own potatoes and the one thing I loved was to go out in the evening and see the potatoes sprouting up and see nature at it’s best. There is something lovely about this time of the year.