Cool Clear Water

I was born a townie at Pound/Connolly Street, Sligo, in a three storey street house with a cold tap
inside and a flush toilet outside. When I was about ten my two sisters and I spent a week with my
dad’s parents on their farm at Rossmore, Riverstown. It was Eastertime. We were sent out to the
field with the lunch for my uncles who were spraying potatoes. No one told me that the lower field
was a bog hole. I jumped in as far as I could, and I was up to my shoulders in mud. I couldn’t move
and I couldn’t shout. My uncle pulled me out with a rope. A lasting fear came between water and
In the 1950’s Foley’s field at the top of St. Joseph’s Tce. and occasionally Summerhill College field
were used as a Park by mothers with prams as well as children. At that time an Extension was added
to Summerhill College. No big machinery then. The sand was washed by hand; a big hole was dug in
the field and filled with water. Two men would douse a riddle full of sand up and down in the water
hole to wash it. Of course children were not supposed to be in the College field at all let alone be
near the building site. My younger brother who was about ten at the time fell into the water hole.
While trying to pull him out he repeated the Act of Contrition after me. He was jumping all over the
hole and he found a stone in the hole and he got out. The sun was cracking the stones as we walked
home through Hanley Tce. Temple Street, and into Pound/Connolly Street home.
My mother’s home place was in Glenkillamey, Arigna, a valley surrounded by mountains. I couldn’t
sleep at night with the sound of water roaring down from the mountains on every side. No tap
water in the cottage but plenty of spongy, mossy fields everywhere especially on the way to the Well
and in the mucky gaps between the fields.
No running water either in the first house we rented in the 60’s when we flew the coup. There were
plenty of rain water tanks everywhere and permission to use an outside tap at the nearest house.
But the rent was low, 10s Sterling weekly.
Time was passing, and I wasn’t making friends with water. I had sea and beaches all around me but I
didn’t like the jelly fish and the sea-weed. I thought nothing of travelling abroad every chance I got
and I was never nervous of the ocean below, and I enjoyed travelling on the Ferry occasionally, in
fact I laughed so much at the empty chairs swinging on their own, and everyone walking like drunks,
bumping into each other and everything including myself that everyone was laughing out loud, but I
also remember how my work mates laughed at my fear of water when they saw the way that I flung
my car keys across a drain and leaped across myself landing on all fours while they took the crossing
in one dainty step.
I attracted a large audience and Facebook Fame when I took the Bucket Challenge. Eventually I
moved into a modern house with hot and cold taps a shower and a bath. I retired aged 65 and I
learned to swim. I even did the Charity New Year’s Dip at Dunmoran, and if you don’t believe me
you can ask Tommy Fleming, I saw him there.
Cool Clear Water? Cold freezing more like.