Page 14 - Demo
P. 14

  First Published 2010
 ART from the obvious, orge Clooney and I have at st one other thing in
Killarney journalist
staple of Christmas stockings when I was growing up and growing out in Killarney. At a time when the term downloading might have meant retrieving biscuit tins packed with festive baubels from the attic, the hits of the day came in vinyl or cassette form and the only information on what was hot and what was not was provided by the brilliant Stuart Henry on Radio Luxembourg or between the covers of Spotlight magazine. Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy’s magical version of Whiskey in the Jar was the first single I ever received for Christmas and it opened a doorway to a lifelong passion for music that introduced me to several loyal friends, from Bowie to Buble. I vividly remember taking possession of my first ever cassette tape recorder one Christmas Eve and bringing my new dream machine on a show-and-tell adventure to my first year classroom in St Brendan’s College after the festive holidays had ended.
K-Tel’s Super Gold Hits double album provided great light entertainment for us all between classes but disaster stuck mid way through a history lesson when the cassette player was accidentally activated under the lift-top desk. Time seemed to stand still as strains of Baccara’s smash hit single ’ Yes Sir, I can boogie’ suddenly filled the classroom at a volume normally only heard at parish hall discos and 25 dropped jaws and 50 wide eyes suddenly peered in my general direction.
Fr Jim Kennelly, now PP in the North Cork parish of Boherbue but then a hugely popular member of the Sem’s teaching staff, wasted no time confiscating the offending piece of technology but, true to form, he was too much of a gentleman to prolong the punishment. Extending the Christmas spirit into the early days of the new year, the cassette recorder was swiftly returned just as the end of class bell sounded with a tut-tut sigh and the mandatory, half-hearted warning that I wouldn’t be so lucky the next time. And just in case Fr Kennelly is still wondering, the impromptu deskside disco resumed the very minute he stepped out of the classroom, although the dancing prowess of the Class of ’76 might have been more comparable to a tower of giraffes on stilts than a Christmas special screening of Strictly Come Dancing.
  mon: in our formative years both filled the formidable
John O’Mahony
ts of Batman.
d I’m particularly proud of
reflects on his childhood
fact that I had already tired the caped crusader role long ore Gorgeous George even to drape the distinctive and tinguished black cloak over
from the 70’s...
square shoulders.
and himself filled
must irritate the Hollywood rtthrob that he had to wait until 7 to get his chance to save tham City, courtesy of Joel umacher’s maligned remake of adventure hero classic. By that e, almost a quarter of a century
Batman’s Boots
elapsed since I had donned the l Batman attire which I itedly discovered, complete h the essential mask and ves, under the tree early one
emitting rubber pellets or frozen peas, at high velocity, much to the chagrin of any wayward crows that crossed enemy lines into the back garden.
Lord Peter Flint, presumably, is now enjoying the autumn of his life, sipping Earl Grey from bone China cups and tackling the Telegraph crossword puzzle in some rose garden cottage in Stoke-on-Trent or leafy Kensington. Unfortunately, the all-action Warlord annual that brought him to life every Christmas is also retired. It ran out of ink in the early 1980s, thus depriving a whole genration of adventure-loving young lads an opportunity to savour the wartime adventures of Union Jack Jackson, Spider Wells and Bomber Braddock in what was cleverly marketed as “a newspaper for boys”. One toys for boys craze that certainly stood the test of time has been an infatuation with marbles and, I’m glad to observe, the miniature spherical, multi- coloured glass balls remain as popular now as they were in the Presentation Monastery back in the days when Br Conrad and Br Gabriel had us singing Beidh Aonach Amárach I gContae an Chlair and watching Máire, Seán agus Bran ag rith in Buntús Cainte.
Cally McCarthy’s magnet-like toy shop on New Street, or the pop-up festive store at The Gunner Brien’s, were both well stocked with marbles of all shades and sizes at Christmas and on returning to school in early January, “playing taws” was the only game in town. High drama comes in many forms but there was nothing that could ever match the consternation in the classroom and chaos in the corridors of The Mon when a young teacher by the name of Michael Gleeson imposed a strict marbles etiquette shortly after his arrival at the New Road centre of high standards in
ristmas morning.
yfaced Irish-American Chris
onnell was Clooney’s Robin; ever-obliging black and white lie named Pal was my trusted ekick. My faithful canine panion and I spent several austing post Christmas weeks hting off The Riddler, The er and Catwoman before the elty wore off and we sought er ways to keep ourselves
education and behaviour.
His zero tolerance policy was based on one simple rule – any marble that fell from trousers or duffel coat pockets and crash landed on the floor during class was immediately confiscated. One judge, no jury, no appeals process and, as we saw it, no justice. Marble internment, if you will. A few short years ago, when Michael Gleeson retired after over three decades sharing knowledge in the classroom, I sent him a brief note to wish him well and remind him of the trauma and torment caused when he confiscated my bag of marbles some decades earlier, a ruthless act I considered the ultimate miscarriage of justice. Several weeks later, on my birthday, I received a small and carefully wrapped parcel containing a jar of the finest taws you could ever wish to see, accompanied by a birthday card with a newly composed poem entitled ‘An ode to marbles’. The sender – and the poet – was Michael Gleeson, a modern day Santa Claus, and that stash of marbles now holds pride of place on top of a filing cabinet alongside my desk. Batman adventures, comic book annuals and marbles aside, music was the other main
t Batman gear was by far the
st memorable gift Santa ever patched down our chimney and parked a longing for superhero re and memorabilia that was to
right through to the start of ondary school. At that stage ion adventures of an altogether
erent variety took priority but t’s a story for a different day another audience. As boyhood oes go, the freescoring Roy e took some beating and his lchester Rovers strike tnership with Blackie Gray orised defences and set dizzy dards that the likes of Toshack Keegan struggled to emulate. Roy of the Rovers annual was ays close to the top of the ristmas wish-list as were annual tive compilations detailing the redible adventures of the Lone nger, Spiderman, Superman The Fugitive himself, Dr
hard Kimble.
t it was the daring adventures of
d Peter Flint, a swashbuckling rld War II agent, who sprang to from the pages of the Warlord tive annual, that really caught imagination during the
ristmas seasons of yesteryear. n’t let this explosive rmation get into the wrong ds but I can now reveal, for the t time, that I was a fully-paid- member of the Lord Flint ret Service Club. My mother – uch more charasmatic M than me Judy Dench – had to splash four pounds sterling to secure lastic wallet containing my to ID, a highly classified ename and a promise of ular club newsletter updates ich, come to think of it, never
and Christmas toys
when his ‘lookalike’
George Clooney
 ually arrived.
took my Lord Peter Flint
tuation one step further one ristmas in the early 1970s when annual dispatch to the North e featured a request for one of most impressive, dynamic s any boy could wish for. It e in the form of a faux leather fcase which, at first glance, ked functional and nondescript , on closer inspection, revealed ecret compartment housing a er-packed revolver fit for a cial agent, a slick silencer, chments to transform the
The Wonder of Cally McCarthy’s Toy Shop in New Street, Killarney
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weapon into a sub machine gun and, critically, a capability of
  Canadian Rock Star Bryan Adams in Killarney 2005 Picture by Don MacMonagle
 ET Phone Home.... Drew Barrymore and her husband Tom Greene honeymooning in Killarney 2002.
Picture by Don MacMonagle
 Charlie Chaplin in Waterville 1968
Picture by Harry MacMonagle
Children choose their Christmas toys in Cally McCarthy’s toy shop in New Street, Killarney

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