The Limerick of Angela's Ashes - Part 5

Last updated 12-Jan-1999
Start of TourFirst HomesRoden StreetFirst JobsCity CentreFarewell

LPYMA Fanlight, 13.5K

This section of the tour will take us as far as the lying-in hospital in Bedford Row, the Franciscan Friary and Arthur's Quay. Alternatively we can abandon the tour here, and walk 50 yards back to the previous intersection - with Glentworth Street; then turn left up Glentworth Street, continue to the top of this street, cut diagonally to the right past the Tait Clock monument, and then up Davis Street, at the far end of which we can see the railway station.

Continuing with the walking tour, we proceed along O'Connell Street from the Limerick Protestant Young Mens' Association. Turn right at the next intersection, and walk up Cecil Street. Shortly we reach a lane to the left, and immediately opposite that is the entrance to Hartigan's Horse Repository, and Wm B. Fitts' auction yard. The repository is the equivalent of the US livery stable, where horses were stabled during the day while their owners went about their business. It also served as regular stabling for the horses of city dwellers who did not employ their own groom.

However we will continue along Cecil Street to the next intersection - Catherine Street runs in each direction, to the left and to the right. It was on this street that Frank was sent with his sixpence in hand to take part in Mrs. OíConnellís dancing classes. The sixpence did not always find its way into Mrs. OíConnellís pocket, nor did Frank always find himself at the classes; instead he invented new steps and tried to persuade Mam that he had learned them from Mrs. O'Connell!

We turn left and walk along Catherine Street to the next intersection, then turn left and walk down Roches Street. Cross the street as traffic permits, and walk on the right hand side. Shortly we come to O'Connell Street, where we turn right. Almost immediately we come to the Augustinian Church, where a confraternity competing with that of the Redemptorists was run. Frank opted to participate in this, rather than endure the disciplines imposed by the Redemptorists. The facade of the church is flush with the line of buildings, and it is easy to miss it. This arrangement is quite unusual in Irish architecture.

Directly across the road, is the former location of the very grand Stella Restaurant, where the brave new rich could afford to dine on the strength of the money telegrams which came from their Dads every Saturday; not so for the McCourts, even though their Dad too was working in England.

At the next intersection, Thomas Street runs to the right, and Bedford Row runs to the left. We will go down Bedford Row. Here on the left, was the lying-in hospital, where Mam went to rest with "a pain in her back" after the Angel on the Seventh Step brought baby Michael to the McCourts. The building can be recognised by ........

Franciscan Priory & Church, 12.9K

At Henry Street we turn right, and immediately see the Franciscan Church and Friary. It was here that Frank finally found forgiveness on his sixteenth birthday, having gotten drunk for the first time, and insulted his mother (also perhaps for the first time) on the previous night. It was no coincidence that he and the Franciscans share the same Patron Saint!

Ennis Road, 9.1K

Continue forward along Henry Street, and straight across the intersection with Sarsfield Street. To the left at this intersection is Sarsfield Bridge, until 1985 the lowest crossing point of the River Shannon. In the distance is the Ennis Road, leading to Shannon Airport, Ennis and Galway. At the age of eleven, Frank took charge of Mr. Hannon's coal dray and delivered sixteen bags of coal out the Ennis road. Imagine the boy trying to handle sacks of coal each weighing 140 pounds at that age. He earned a shilling for his mornings work - about seven cents.

Across the intersection we reach Honan's Quay. This used to be a quay onto the river, but nowadays it is fronted by Arthur's Quay Public Park. Turning right we see the modern tourist information office on the corner. A multistorey car park sits on top of a shopping centre in the background. Continue along Honan's Quay and swing left onto Arthur's Quay, which also fronts onto the park.

Arthur's Quay, 12.5K

This stands on the site of the most derelict tenements in Limerick. It is said that these buildings were not demolished, that they fell down of their own accord. In this photograph probably from the 1920s you can make out several lines of washing drying along the quayside. Imagine how decrepit the buildings had become by the forties.

Somewhere here was the home of Paddy Clohessey. Even Angela had warned Frank not to go there - the people down there were wild and ye could get robbed and killed. Frank's description of the access to the Clohessys' single-roomed home gives us some idea of the state of the place - some of the steps are missing and there is shit on the ones that are still there. There was only one privy and that was in the back yard.

Arthur's Mews, 9.6K

The scene of distressing poverty described by Frank is borne out by several old people who lived in Arthur's Quay and the neighbouring Francis Street. For the people who existed there times were really tough. Hunger was the order of the day, and clothing consisted of whatever rags could be picked up in the trash-cans of the Ennis Road and the North Circular Road. Food came from charity. It was commonplace for people to go to the convents with a penny and a bucket to get soup or boiled potatoes to try to feed their families.

This photograph is of Arthurís Mews, a dismal narrow lane which cut through the houses of Arthur's Quay and was home to dozens of starving families like the Clohesseys. And despite the poverty, hundreds survived and rose above their misery to make better lives for themselves after the Second World War.

We will continue along Arthur's Quay, and turn right into Francis Street. The intersection at the end of this street goes left into Rutland Street and right into Patrick Street. Both of these streets lie on a straight line extended from O'Connell Street.

The visitor can take a simple route directly back to the Railway Station from here by turning right, and walking back through Patrick Street and O'Connell Street as far as the intersection just past the red door of the Limerick Protestant Young Mens Association, then turn left up Glentworth Street, and onwards into Davis Street, with the railway station at the end.

However, to complete the tour we turn left into Rutland Street.

Part VI Farewell to Limerick......

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