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Farewell To 12a Sarsfield Park

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When wee Pauline turned that key,
It was the last goodbye,
When wee Pauline closed that door,
It was the end of an era,
But for all of us it was much more,
It was the end of a lifetime,
In a house that meant so much,
A house that brought so much love,
So many memories,
So many cherished moments,
Warming our bums at the Super Ser,
On cold frosty mornings,
Mam dropping us to school,
And breaking down at Bob Carroll's lights,
Horns blowing, fists shaking,
Total strangers helping out,
A greasy breakfast in bed,
Sunday dinners by the fire,
Roast potatoes that melted in mouths,
Salad sandwiches fit for a king,
Growing up was never hard or dull,
Not with mam and dad,
And so many dear friends,
The Behans, Murrays and Coynes,
The list is endless,
Families who looked after each other,
Families who cared,
Doors that were left wide open,
Doors that were never locked,
And why would they?
Everyone was too busy surviving,
Everyone was too busy respecting each other,
There were tears, laughter, sadness and happiness,
We learnt to dance, to sing, to live life to the full,
We learnt about the Rolling Stones and the Bee Gees,
David Bowie, Showaddywaddy and Suzi Quatro,
Joanie listened to Richard Clayderman,
And chatted all day to her lovely sisters,
Who would call regularly to the family hub,
Their loud laughter bouncing off the walls,
The same walls Bob used to paper,
When it was wise to keep out of earshot,
As he cursed another soggy strip dangling in front of his nose,
Or the air bubbles that never seemed to disappear,
We'd all laugh as we peeped around the door,
At poor mammy coming to his rescue,
With her damp tea towel,
Before making a hasty retreat towards Toolans' shop,
With her handbag draped over her shoulder,
A Rothmans soothing her frayed nerves,
A joke, a song, a tear and the odd fag,
But mostly love and warmth,
Put on your hat,
Where's your coat?
For God sake don't get wet,
Stay away from the Liffey and the weir,
Get up, it's time for 12 o'clock mass,
Mag, don't forget to wear your braces,
Pauline, stay away from that damn swing,
And dad would send Mary for the Sunday papers,
Then watch his favourite films,
The Odd Couple and The Big Store,
And we'd laugh until we'd cry,
Especially the Marx Brothers and the chase,
We'd watch the horse racing,
And the romance of the FA Cup,
Ronnie Radford and Red Rum,
World Cups were won by Brazil,
And the Hammers were thrashed,
L'Escargot won the Grand National,
And dad threw his cap in the air for Tommy Carberry,
The best jockey he'd ever seen,
I'll write a book about him one day,
But alas it never came to pass,
It'll make a great film, he ventured,
Gregory Peck can play Raymond Guest,
And Bing Crosbie can sing When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,
Like he did at the Curragh,
And we all sat round the fire transfixed,
Alongside Rex the dog and Smokie the cat,
Consumed with thoughts of Hollywood in our small council estate,
Yeh, Sarsfield Park, a community of soul,
A community that walked with bowed heads behind hearses,
That stopped in silent tributes next to silent doors,
Working class that cried unashamedly,
As neighbours passed to pastures new,
Dad said they were the proudest people he'd ever met,
They'd give you the shirt off their backs,
He watched them build schools and youth clubs,
Churches and caring communities,
Folk who were unassuming and gentle,
But we knew that; we played with their kids,
Bulldog one-two-three, kick-the-can,
And that ESB pole in the middle of the green,
The scene of so many epic battles of rounders,
You could keep that game of baseball,
No-one hit a home run like Lalo O'Neill,
No-one could run as fast as Gerry Byrne,
Red Ennis had a special eye for a ball,
Fred Eiffe was the bravest goalie,
Derek Mahady was the toughest in defence,
Along with his older brother Mick,
Liam Murray was small but untouchable in midfield,
And Martin Murray, no relation,
Son of the legendary Joe of Shamrock Rovers fame,
Went to Everton in a blaze of glory,
The next Georgie Best they called him,
But to us locals he was wee Martin,
The Manchester United fan,
A genuine Red Devil,
Part of a proud family who let us watch Match of the Day,
Pulling back their curtains on a Saturday night,
So all the local kids,
Standing on their front wall,
Could watch the BBC,
And his mum Molly, a living saint,
Who looked after the whole community,
Like a mother hen,
Her calls to sick neighbours would put the HSE to shame,
Wed race to school with Larry Pierce,
Munching on his sugar-coated toast,
Where Mr Noonan would dish out six-of-the-best,
And Mr McCarthy would send us home for his tea,
A Taylor Keith bottle wrapped in a sock for warmth,
But not half as warm as his kind wife,
Who gave us Bourbon Creams,
We'd knock on Spear Kilduff's door,
And get a massive chase,
Sometimes as far as the Jet Garage hill,
Where we'd slide down the electric pole,
Opposite Christy Gannon's house,
For a quick getaway,
Not that it was needed,
Poor Mr Kilduff would be miles behind,
And we'd put McNally in an old pram,
And race it all the way round the Park,
Only letting him out when his cries attracted the attention,
Of a worried passer-by,
But it was all done in harmless fun,
No-one ever got hurt,
Apart from a few feelings,
Because our friends were like family,
And they were always welcomed,
From Catherine Gannon to Helen Flanagan,
From Gerry Martin to Growler and Squinty,
The list is endless,
They were our lifeblood,
They hung gently on our clothes lines,
Like the buttons on our shirts,
They kept us warm and together,
If we needed advice, they were there,
Helping us hook a trout in the Griffeen,
Or mending a broken heart after spin the bottle,
And it all revolved around Sarsfield Park,
The Congo as it was affectionately known,
Born the same year as that African Civil war,
But its fire was much more friendly,
Just like the family in 12a,
How fitting it was that wee Pauline,
The jewel in the Kelly crown,
Had the honour of turning that final key,
As three teardrops fell from heaven.

By John Kelly.