During the nineties when I resided in the vicinity I regularly frequented a tiny craft shop directly opposite Enniscorthy Castle to chat with owner Maura Flannery. I always parked the car inside the Castle gate. Not all motorists chanced parking cars there, as the castle is situated on a very steep hill. It was a very tricky exercise gauging properly the somewhat narrow gate, irrespective of whatever part of the hill one approached it from. I found it a challenge at first, nonetheless with perpetual practice I soon became adept at it, as well as maneuvering it neatly to fit in line with cars parked there belonging to the castle employees. Not to be attempted by those who are not familiar with hand-break starts, the latter of which I heretofore had terrific practice at in the paddock field avenue at the home-place. Maura had been involved with committee work pertaining to the castle, so I presumed nobody objected to me parking there because of visiting her at the craft shop.
I also visited a retired gentleman in nearby Court St. after he moved there due to physical incapacitation of living alone in an isolated rural area. He had always given me a cup of tea, and a slice of homemade brown soda bread when he had worked at the Athenaeum. I so enjoyed his company. He was a walking encyclopaedia. I was browsing the Internet and accidentally discovered that one of nature’s kindest-natured gentleman had recently passed away.
Johnny worked all his young life as an articulated lorry-driver for a brewery. He went all over the country delivering guinness and beer. So I was stunned when he told me that he had delivered guinness and beer to a pub run solely by a woman in very rural Kilkenny. It so happened to have been to a distant relative of mine, that I had only heard of via twin cousins who reside at the home-place of my grandfather in Kilkenny. Johnny, who must have been hitting the ninety mark when I knew him in the nineties was able to tell me about a very elderly lady who ran a pub on her own in Castlewarren. He greatly admired her tenacity and single-mindedness. He described to me the way she handled beer-glasses when she expertly clasped them with fingerless woolly mittens in the dead cold of winter. She was apparently very respected by the clientele, and when she politely asked them to leave at night, she hardly got any hassle at all. As Johnny said: “she was no da”.
I had learned about the pub-owner when my mother’s older cousin, Nellie, who had some years ago brought me to visit an elderly brother of the pub proprietor. Tom, a renowned eccentric piseog storyteller who resided with another brother at a farm adjacent to my grandfather’s farm. In fact – it was in Tom’s parents corn-field where my grandfather had been playing cards when the latter had a narrow escape after the Black and Tans had stormed the parents homestead and was greeted by his mother. The Black and Tans had demanded to know the whereabouts of my grandfather, who had in the interim deserted the R.I.C. I had heard from Tom that my great-grandmother would have put her own life on the line for that of her youngest child. They would have had to kill her first, as she would have never divulged her son’s whereabouts.
The two of them were in their nineties and were still running the farm on their own. I had to quietly smile when Tom suggested that he may let the land out for the next five years, and then resume working it himself thereafter.
Blimey – I’ve just looked up the Power family in the census 1911. I’m amazed to have come across one Tom Power who was then 3 year old in 1911. That would definitely be the same Tom Power I encountered at the homestead in Castlewarren. Tom, as I pointed out was into his nineties when I met him. It’s so hard to believe that he would be 125 if he were alive today. I can still recall seeing him with Nellie. His brother, John is also mentioned in the census. I saw him too from a distance on the farm, as he was singlehandedly rounding in a large herd of cattle. There was only a difference of a year between the two brothers.
I was given a blue pamphlet of piseog stories that were written by Tom Power. He was very much into mythological piseogs. He swore that one day an O’Loughlin would arrive in Castlewarren. He was laughed out of it … but there was truth in that statement, as I had come on the scene. I carried the O’Loughlin name, but it was hushed up for a reason that was obvious. I shan’t dwell on that obviousness here. See: Power: Census 1911 Castlewarren Co. Kilkenny.