A sweet story…

A sweet story from Cork

Made by an Armenian in the city of Cork, Hadji Beys Turkish delight has a story that beggars belief, writes MARIE-CLAIRE DIGBY , was once one of Ireland’s most successful exports, selling in Harrods of London and Macy’s in New York, and being supplied to Buckingham Palace.

The opulent pink and yellow boxes, embossed in silver, went back on shop shelves last year when Newbridge confectionery maker Leo Cummins re-established the brand, 40 years after Eddie Batmazian, Harutun’s son, closed the business in Cork.

Hadji Bey Milseáin na Tuirce i gCorcaigh is a TG4 documentary directed by RoseAnn Foley and presented by her sister Catherine Foley, which tells the story of Batmazian and his exotic sweetmeats. It is being screened tomorrow at 9.30pm (repeated on Wednesday at 11.30pm).

The film includes rarely viewed footage of Cork city in the early 1900s by filmmakers Mitchell Kenyon, with contributions from historian and writer Diarmuid Ó Drisceol, TV presenter and producer Pat Butler, writer Prof Alan Titley, and Pól Ruiséil of Ionad na Gaeilge Labhartha, the Centre for Oral Irish, at UCC.

Two of Batmazian’s grandchildren, Dolores Cunningham and Derek O’Sullivan, also feature, and describe the difficulties their grandfather and his wife Esther had to overcome in their early years in Cork.

Having fled persecution in their homeland, the couple were mistakenly identified as Turks by soldiers returning from the first World War, and their shop on Lower Glanmire Road was burned down. When they reopened on McCurtain Street, Batmazian had a legal document drawn up, called Live and Let Live, which he hoped would explain his heritage and protect his business. In the event, his superior confectionery, made with ingredients imported from all over the world, spoke for itself, and became a firm favourite in Ireland and beyond.

Hadji Bey: Milseáin na Tuirce i gCorcaigh is on TG4 tomorrow at 9.30pm and repeated Wednesday, December 21st, 11.30pm

More can be found here on the Examiner’s website also!

The Demesne Dairy

Jervois’ Shop by Kathleen Jervois Fitzgerald c2005

I was about four or five years old when my parents opened No. 169 Lower Glanmire Road as a business. The name in ceramic letters across the front window was impressive. The Demesne Dairy was so-called after my mother’s home in Co. Tipperary.

My father had made up his mind to work for himself, and so ‘The Dairy’ opened its doors. In the shop milk, cream and beautiful butter were on sale. There was also 3 milk deliveries daily in all weathers, for 364 days in the year. The only exception was Christmas Day when the shop opened until midday to allow customers to buy milk and cream for the festive day.

The big 20 gallon churns with a tap near the bottom, were carried in an open cart drawn by our jennet. She was known all the way up as far as St. Patrick’s Church. En route she was given sweets by some of the customers and parsnips which she adored, by others. However, she really disliked ‘pom’ dogs and would stalk them and snap at their tales.

Down the strand
From our house we could see the strand with its row of small houses just above the slipway. Here the coal barges tied up and we kids learned to wax up the ropes. It is from these houses the great oarsmen, the Garrett’s came. On regatta day they ferried people across the river to the Marina. What excitement there was when the Tivoli Rowing Club brought the Leander Cup home in triumph. The festivities went on well into the night in Hyde’s pub next door, where Julia and Ms. Hyde looked after the bar.

Some years later the shop started to sell groceries and cigarettes. There were many customers who came across from the Harbour Commisioners, each morning before 7.30. Many came in with little whiskey bottles for a penn’orth of milk, 2 fags and a match.Woodbines were the favourites at 2d a packet of 5. Many of the customers relied on ‘tick’ or credit, for the week until Friday morning.

Donoghue’s Lane and Barry’s Lane were on either side of the three houses just below Beale’s Hill. Further up Beale’s Hill was Lover’s Walk, so called because the gateways on the way up to Montenotte were a nice shelter for the young couples many of whom met in the Arcadia, or the ‘Arc’ as this ballroom of romance was called. It was here I met my future husband when I was just 18 years old. This romance lasted until his death 50 years later. Now I must be going, and some of my dear friends and neighbours take up the tale of our road.