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John Quealy was born in West Clare in 1926. He attended Tullabrack N.S., C.B.S., Kilrush and St. Patrick’s Training College, Drumcondra. Having qualified, he taught in an inner city school in Dublin for a few months and then got a job as a Principal Teacher in Knock, Roscrea, Co Tipperary where he continued to teach for the next forty one years. He retired in 1989.
John is an excellent story teller and has an amazing memory for recalling incidents and events from his early life in West Clare. After his retirement he was persuaded to put pen to paper and record these recollections in story form. He has had many of these short stories published in the Clare Champion Newspaper, Ireland’s Own Magazine and other periodicals.
If you expect this book to be a gripping piece of fiction, or a collection of classic short stories, you will be disappointed. It is neither. So save your euros and leave it back on the shelf.
Instead it is a simple non-grandiose celebration of the people of my own place between the Shannon and the Ocean. Many great scribes back to Caherea’s Měcheŕl Ň Grěofa and Loch Graney’s Brian Mac Giolla Meidhre have produced great works on the lives and times of the people of Clare and have brilliantly laid bare “their roles, their goals, their naked souls”. I do not dare to venture down that well-travelled road.
I have merely tried to honour the memory of some rare characters with whom I have shared the Baronies of Corca Baiscinn and Moyarta for over seven decades. I have also tried to keep alive the language and idiom of my native heath, which I think, has a dialectic integrity and uniqueness worth preserving. If I have even slightly succeeded in that aim, and if you, my friend, have enjoyed some of these (I hope) not too nostalgic recollections, then I will have been “Carried on the shoulders of my own people” as All-Ireland winner Liam Hayes said, which is to me, the ultimate accolade.
A Tribute to all those who share memories with me of
I’ll raise a glass to you tonight
My friends of yesteryear,
Who trudged to school in Tullabrack;
My friends so very dear.
The Meehans, Meeres and Clohessys,
O ‘Connells and O’Sheas,
McGraths, and Bourkes and Murrays,
Caslins and O’Deas.
Quinlivans, Maguires and Crowleys,
Maloneys from Derha Lane.
Mulqueens below the river.
We were there in sun and rain.
Gus Quillinan who could paint a scene
As real as Jack B. Yeats
Paddy Grogan who could tell a tale
To make you palpitate.
McMahons from all four townslands;
And the Meades from Interlaken,
The Quealys brought the football,
And soon the game got cracking.
From Monmore, down came the Crottys,
The Delaneys and John Deveen;
At the Small Cross they met the Norways,
The Griffins and the Keanes.
The Flahertys, Grogans and Lahiffs,
And Kevin from Gowerhass.
Keatings, Eustaces, Neenans,
And Paddy Woulfe who topped the class.
The Tubridys and Looneys
The Chambers from the States
The Considines and Callinans
They tramped in through both gates.
Came the Frawleys and the Hickeys,
And all the Mullins clan;
The Mangans and the Careys,
They attended, to a man
Mary Jo, she crossed the road way.
And the Healys from Gowerhass,
The Gradys, Downeys Downses
And the Kellys filled the class.
If there’s any I’ve forgotten
Please forgive my memory lapse
A memory once flawless,
Now seems riddled with great gaps.
These were my friends from childhood
Pals of my cradle days.
Some have settled here in Ireland
Some have gone their separate ways.
Some lie sleeping in the Kyleen,
Some way off in the Outback,
May the Good Lord judge them easy,
My dear friends from Tullabrack.
Seasons in the Sun
Between the Shannon
and the Sea
By John Quealy