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The Pipes The Pipes Are Calling
This is the story of 20th century Dublin and a little boy who was born, raised and grew up in the Liberties, next to the Forty Steps.
He grew up with Dublin, from when it was a small town with village ways to a big, sophisticated world class city.
He grew up through the influence of the church, Catholic schools and a large family, through the stage and entertainment world in Dublin, and around local politics.
The love of a close family and friends kept the human spark of love alive. The stories are encouragement to all who lived in such conditions, in such a lifetime…..
Front Cover Photograph: St. Audoens, New Gate, 1240AD, the gate into St Audeons grounds and next to the ancient St. Audeons Church in the Liberties. Photograph courtesy of Robert Phair.
This book tells my own journey through life in the Liberties but it is much more than just the telling of a life, it is a tale woven around the adventures I had with those dear ones I met along the way. Since I was born, raised and spent most of my adult life in the Liberties in Dublin Ireland this was where my tales began.
I loved the Liberties, from my first remembrances of the streets and alleyways. As a young lad I was early on amused that an alleyway could be called Dirty Lane, and right behind it was a street called Mullinamack, and Cherry Steps were nearby. There were two world famous breweries located in the Liberties, the Powers Distillery as well as the Guinness Brewery. Also there were countless churches in our parish. It seemed nearly every block or so there was a church and each one seemed to have lovely little patches of grass or flowers around it and many had enough land to have beautiful, large parks. So we had a rich church life with priests all around us.
And last but most important I loved my days with the people in the neighbourhood, who were rather like my family. Of course most especially I loved my very own family. There was my dear mother and father and eight children, three dear girls growing up in the Liberties and five boys. Three of the five young lads were later to become the Three Smyth Bros., who began singing together in the mid forties and sang professionally together for the next twenty years.
In the mid 1960s we eight children were all getting married and began to drift off from the Liberties into our own family homes. My dad and mom were the last to move from the Liberties. They moved to a lovely flat in Malahide. Soon after, in the seventies, my dad died and mom continued to live a few more years in their Malahide flat.
I remember I was sitting with my mother on her porch in Malahide, one Sunday, talking. She reached over, took my hand in hers and said, “Jim dear, as a family we were very loving of course, but each one of us had our own adventures during our own growing up in the Liberties. In a way our family was a lot like every family in the Liberties, I know that, but we kept being pulled close together by our wonderful, funny – or sometimes not so very funny - adventures. Jim, one day will you write about all this?”
I said, “I will of course dear mother.”
And so I am.
I remember the Liberties was an ‘up-and-down’ area, we were always walking steep up and low down the streets, up and down.
For many of our young Liberty years there was old lady who every day pushed her big wicker basket up and down the streets, piled with all the apples and fruit for her outdoor stall that day. She was pushing the basket up and down the hills long before I was born, and walking the streets of the Liberties.
The story goes that one morning as she was passing Halligans Bakery which was situated at the top of Church Street, she looked in the bakery and as she did so she saw a young boy under a lorry. She shouted at him to get out,
“Get out son or you will get killed!”
There were soldiers all around in the street, British soldiers.
The soldiers caught him and took him out.
The young lad was none other than our …
Irish Patriot Boy, Kevin Barry.
He was hiding under the lorry. The soldiers took him away and they hanged him in Mountjoy Jail.
He fought for Ireland, he died on the streets of Ireland down there in the Liberties, he died for Ireland.
My mother said, “So Jim it was a mistake. But she paid dearly in her poor old mind. God love her,” Mum said.
“I second that mother.”
I did meet her, I met her every morning when I went to the Brunswick St. School. I passed by Halligans Bakery and met her on the way up the hills to her stall location. After my mum told me the story I would be enthralled looking into Halligans Bakery as I passed by. I would often stop and look at it and you know I used to say a prayer for Kevin Barry. God bless his soul.
“Sure, only for you, Jim,” my mother said, “remember when you wanted to go and join the priesthood, I should you have let you go.”
“No matter, I still have my religion and I still have you.”
“You won’t have me much longer, Jim,” Mum said.
“But I love you with all my heart dear mum”.
Three weeks later my mother passed away.
My dear mother’s love has always been near as it has been in the lives of all our family. She taught us love. She gave love, guidance, help to we children from the very beginning as well as to all our neighbours around us in the Liberties. This is how we saw our lives as we grew up. Dear mum and dad, thanks for the memories, a walk down a loving memory lane in the Liberties. May all who read of it feel its loving presence near.
Top of the World, MA! …
Top of the World, DA! …
“And I can still hear the Pipes Calling …”
The Pipes The Pipes Are Calling
Written By Jim Smyth
Author, Jim Smyth