Michael attended school in the old Carnegie library. The 2 classes, first and second were back to back in the downstairs room, one facing Meldas shop and one facing the gallery as it was known (the landing going up to the upstairs room where the library was held. Dan Hanly was the caretaker of the library and Mul said it would be easier to get into heaven than to get into the library!
As well as being used as the school, the library was used for dances and most local social gatherings. The rugby club was especially vibrant at that time and many rugby dances were held. The timber floors in the library were fairly worn and Charlie Madigan the local carpenter was on standby for running repairs during the dances!! The local children would clamber up on the high windows to get a good vantage point to peep in at all the goings on, until they were unceremoniously removed by Guard Mc Keown. As the lads got older they were allowed to carry in the instruments for the bands like Donie Collins and Paddy Sax Mc Carthy!!
Mull remembers another anecdote. An Askeaton young man called Pat Moran whose parents owned the chemist shop over the bridge opposite Collins drapers had come home from Rockwell after his Leaving Cert. Now Pat was like a God to the local young lads. He captained Limerick Bohemians to win the Munster senior cup. He then went onto play for Munster and Bohemian RFC in the ‘60’s. Miss Duggan had started up a commercial course at this stage and Pat decided to join the class. The local rugby club had won the Mc Elligott cup. There was a great night of revelry held upstairs in the library with a Ferkin of beer and everything. The celebrations continued on into the early hours of the morning. When Miss Duggan arrived to school the next morning she found the place in a despicable state, clouded with stalecigarette smoke and a horrible smell of beer!!. Being less than impressed, she pounced on Pat, a member of the rugby club when he reached the school. Pat was an easy going chap and totally uninhibited by Miss Duggan’s onslaught. He explained to her with equal vigor ‘you do realise that we were celebrating a great cup win’!!Mrs Hawkes danced with frustration at that comment – but Moran was at ease.
Mul’s other memories revolve around the games they played as children. One was called “Ducky”. This was played on the green on the opposite side of the river from the school. Each participant had a rock approximating the size of a pound of butter. The object of the exercise was to pitch your stone as close as possible to a large flat topped rock. The person furthest away had to place their stone on the rock and wait until someone else knocked it off and then run as fast as possible to regain their place in the line before their opponent, This game was taken extremely seriously. One day Mul accidentally got clocked on the side of the head, by Joe Neville of Ballysteen, just as the bell was rung over at the school. With his head spouting blood, Liam Purcell accompanied Mul over the bridge and straight down to Dr Michael Fitzgibbon in Tall Trees. Doc was not home but his son Noel, home from boarding school, did his best to stop the bleeding. Liam and Mul returned to school, soon to be followed by Dr Michael who duly mopped and stitched up Mul and sent him home for the afternoon!!
Another very popular game played by all the local lads was ‘Peg and tops’. This game was played with a wooden ‘top’ to which was attached a little spear. The game was played in East square, outside the bank. It was a game of great skill and its playing was taken extremely seriously by the boys involved. The game had its own language. You could have a 1. Buzzer of a Giggler ie a beautiful spin of a jumpy one.
- Peg up to a muttie- throw to a marker
- Slack cord-free throw
- 3 chucks of a chord and double it……
The wagers: 1. ’20 hanools and a box of rock….soft ground or hard ground
This was during the war years and getting new tops was extremely hard. However, Tommy Ruttle, the local carpenter came to the rescue making tops from broken pitchfork handles. He charged 3D each for them and did a brisk trade!! The top was catapulted by a long chord, the end of which was anchored between the players thumb and forefinger. Braided chord was best so the picture chord was always being stolen at home!!
Some days the bank manager of the time Mr Cross, also a Presbyterian minister, came out to observe the game. Occasionally he’s put a 3D piece on the ground and say ‘the first to hit it with a top spear could keep it’. This was a small fortune and was usually won by Liam O’ Sullivan (Mackey) who was the king of top players in Askeaton.