Love Hearts down The Lower Road by Margaret Ivers c2005
In the Sping of 1946, not long after my fourth birthday, I started school. Pat Fox, who was six months older than me, lived next door in Clehane’s Cottages, and at that time children were packed off to school as and when they were deemed ready. Pat had started in January so he had all the qualifications needed to take me up to St. Patrick’s school in St. Luke’s cross.
As we walked up O’Mahony’s Avenue Pat rattled off all the words he could spell for all I knew he could have spelt everything wrong as I hadn’t a clue, but my admiration for him knew no bounds. So brainy I thought. When we arrived at the school the teacher wasn’t there so Pat showed me around. To the front there was one classroom and behind there was a much bigger room. Three classes were catered for here.
It looked like a concert hall with, what seemed to resemble part of The God’s in the opera house at the back. What a great place I thought. We went bacl to the front classroom where Pat showed me how to swing by leaning on my hands on two desks. This was much better than I had thought. However the teacher wasn’t long putting a stop to that activity. Days turned into weeks, Pat and I continued to go to school and we remianedfirm friends. However that would change as the first week of our Summer holidays passed, a new boy came on the scene.
Maichael Baldwen came to stay with his grandmother who lived in the house at the end of Castle View Terrace steps, just under the bridge. Word spread fast about this new boy on the scene. He was five and the proud possessor of the most beautiful three wheeler red bike that I had ever seen. As if that wasn’t enough he also had a blue pedal car. Like a Disney character love hearts were popping out of my eyes. Michael’s grandmother would take the two of us up Water Sreet, around by the Coliseum and back down the Lower Road everyday. I sat proudly on either the bike or the car. This was the life!
Now around that time The Forge,, which was overlooked by Nelson’s Terrace, was taken over by a man who had a seven year old son. The Forge was a wonderland whose joys I had never tasted because the gate was too high for me to climb over. But my brother Richard had told me of all the gadgets and the machine for making the blocks out of saw dust.
I passed The Forge everyday on my was to Michael, so I couldn’t belive my eyes when I saw the big gate open, I peeped in. Richard was right, this place was a wonderland, stuff everywhere. I didn’t need a second invitation to looka round. Time flew and before I knew where it went my mother called me, it was time to go home and I still hadn’t investigated even half the place. The following morning my legs couldn’t get me fast enough to The Forge. This time The Forge boy had a rope tied to the ESB pole at the edge of the footpath. He offered me a swing but I was afriad to swing out onto the road.
Then I remebered Michael and the three wheeled bike. I ran towards his grandmother’s house, as I was within reach of it horror! There, just at the corner of Water Street I saw a bike and the car, both were moving. Somebody else had taken my place. I called out his name and his grandmother turned around. “Go back to where you were yesterday”, she told me. I couldn’t believe it.
As the beloved bike and pedal car disappeared up Water Street I sat on the steps outside Roycrofts shop and felt very sorry for myself. After about five minutes, which seemed to me an appropiate mourning time, I dusted myself off and made my way back up the road to where The Forge Here was happily swinging around the ESB pole. This time I accepted his offer to try the swing. On the outward swing my knees made contact with the pole and although the pain was almost as bad as the pain in my heart, when I saw the beloved car and bike disappear up Water Street, I didn’t let him know.
By the time I went home that day I was the proud owner of two black and blue knees and from the swing back to the footpath, a lump on the back of my head, which my mother told me would be better before I was married.
This, the Summer passed. Pat and I renewed our friendship and we spent our time playing up the lane where we lived and visiting The Forge, Michael also returned and shared his toys with us.
Just before the school holidays were over, Pat Fox and his family moved to England where his father had got a job. Michael retuened to his parents. Sometime later The Forge closed, a garage now stands where The Forge used to be.
To Pat, Michael and the Boy from The Forge, wherever life has taken you I hope it has treated you well. Thanks for the memories.