Johnny Chris Kelleher: The Evening Echo, Schooldays, Tuberculosis

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Johnny Chris Kelleher: The Evening Echo, Schooldays, Tuberculosis


Life History:


Johnny Chris was born in 1929 in Fair Lane, later called Wolfe Tone Street. His mother, Mary Margaret Kelleher (1901 - 1970) was married twice; her first husband died of TB in 1924; she had to get a job selling newspapers to support her family. His father was Tommy Kelleher; he later lost his legs. His sister lost an arm in an accident at O’Gorman’s hat factory. Johnny Chris still sold newspapers into his 80s, to keep agile and to meet people.

He lists some of the old lanes of the Northside. He describes the housing on Corbett’s Lane. The areas of Shandon Street and Ballymacthomas were close to the country, and men worked as cattle drovers for farmers, bringing cattle to fairs in the county. Without a social welfare system, people turned their hands to all kinds of menial work. There was nevertheless a good quality of life.

Johnny Chris talks about people’s sports and past-times. He praises the rise in the standard of living but laments the loss of a sense of community. The character of the Northside was formed by social housing and the movement of masses of people who lived side by side to new housing there, again side by side. He talks about the street names and the lanes of Cork.

He discusses his schooling and the teaching of the Irish language.

Johnny Chris recalls the editions of the Evening Echo newspaper printed during World War II, and his working life selling the newspaper. How he heard about the death of Christy Ring; telling Taoiseach Jack Lynch the news. The different newspapers reflected people’s political persuasions; the Echo was for working people.

He talks about Blackpool, its residents and industries.

He recalls the North Infirmary, and how it was used by people; how his father had a leg amputated there. He remembers hearing about his sister’s industrial accident.

He worked for Cork Corporation. People didn’t really take holidays. Johnny Chris then describes working life at The Cork Examiner newspaper, and how the Evening Echo was distributed.

How drisheen and tripe were eaten is also discussed.

He recalls Father O’Flynn, who had a method to cure stammering; the BBC made a documentary about him in 1948; he went over to help King George VI.

He relates a funny story about the Corporation making and storing coffins in case of any local bombing casualties during World War II; they were gradually stolen and sold on to undertakers for money to buy drink. He tells another story about Whacker, a local character.


21 July 2010




Cork, Ireland, 1900s, 2000s


Other Interviews in the Colection:

CFP_SR00387_sheehan_2010; CFP_SR00388_sheehan_2010; CFP_SR00389_healy_2010;
CFP_SR00391_crean_2010; CFP_SR00392_mckeon_2010; CFP_SR00393_twomey_2010; CFP_SR00394_stleger_2010; CFP_SR00395_speight_2010; CFP_SR00396_lane_2010; CFP_SR00397_obrienoleary_2010; CFP_SR00398_jones_2010; CFP_SR00399_saville_2010; CFP_SR00400_magnier_2010; CFP_SR00401_marshall_2010; CFP_SR00402_marshall_2010; CFP_SR00403_murphy_2010; CFP_SR00404_prout_2011; CFP_SR00405_walsh_2011; CFP_SR00406_prout_2011; CFP_SR00407_newman_2010; CFP_SR00408_newman_2010; CFP_SR00409_leahy_2011; CFP_SR00411_newman_2010; CFP_SR00412_newman_2010; CFP_SR00413_finn_2011; CFP_SR00414_ohorgain_2011; CFP_SR00415_oconnell_2011; CFP_SR00416_sheehy_2011; CFP_SR00417_mcloughlin_2012; CFP_SR00418_gerety_2012; CFP_SR00419_kelleher_2012; CFP_SR00420_byrne_2012; CFP_SR00421_cronin_2012; CFP_SR00422_ohuigin_2012; CFP_SR00423_meacle_2012; CFP_SR00424_horgan_2012; CFP_SR00425_lyons_2012; CFP_SR00427_goulding_2011;


Heritage Week 2011: CFP_SR00429_casey_2011; CFP_SR00430_tomas_2011; CFP_SR00431_newman_2011; CFP_SR00432_stillwell_2011; CFP_SR00433_oconnell_2011; CFP_SR00434_lane_2011; CFP_SR00435_montgomery-mcconville_2011; CFP_SR00436_ocallaghan_2011; CFP_SR00437_corcoran_2011; CFP_SR00438_jones_2011; CFP_SR00439_ohuigin_2011; CFP_SR00440_mccarthy_2011; CFP_SR00441_crowley_2011; CFP_SR00442_obrien_2011; CFP_SR00443_jones_2011; CFP_SR00444_mcgillicuddy_2011; CFP_SR00445_delay_2011; CFP_SR00446_murphy_2011;

Video Interview: CFP_VR00486_speight_2014

Published Material: 

O’Carroll, Clíona (2011) ‘The Cork Memory Map’, Béascna 7: 184-188.

O’Carroll, Clíona (2012) ‘Cork Memory Map: an update on CFP’s Online Project’, The Archive 16: 14.

Dee, Stephen and O’Carroll, Clíona (2012) ‘Sound Excerpts: Interviews from Heritage Week’, The Archive 16: 15-17.

O'Carrol, Clíona (2014) 'The children's perspectives: Place-centred interviewing and multiple diversified livelihood strategies in Cork city, 1935-1960'. Béaloideas - The Journal of Folklore of Ireland Society, 82: 45-65.

The Curious Ear/Documentary on One (Cork City Memory Map)

To view the Cork Memory Map Click Here

Click here to access entry on the Memory Map


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project


English, Irish




1 .wav File




71min 45sec


Glasheen, Cork.

Original Format


Bit Rate/Frequency

24bit / 48kHz


The following is a short extract from the interview transcript, copyright of the Cork Folklore Project. If you wish to access further archival material for this interview or other interviews please contact CFP,

JCK: Well now, there was a substantial population in a very, very small area. Because of small houses, up a laneway, you could have thirty, forty or fifty houses. So with big families in small houses, you had a sizeable population and taking up very little area. Now, the people that lived there -- you had a variety. The variety in the sense you had poor people, but you had people who would be considered very well off. And the reason for it was -- as an example, Corbett’s Lane. If you walked up Corbett’s Lane, the first four houses would be small houses with ordinary people, working class people, in them. When you came to the fifth house, it would be a two-story farmhouse with a big black gate, tarred gate, above it, and a big yard at the back of the house. Now, at the back of that house, the people who lived in that house had cattle and sheep. Now, you could -- you could have the same thing in another couple of houses and then a big double storey house, and you could continue up the lane at both sides with that situation. So you had poor, and people who would be considered fairly well off for the times, all living in the one lane. Now at the top of the lane, my grandmother, Polly Kelleher, lived, my father’s mother, and across the way from their house was two tripe houses, Welsh’s and Reilly’s, and around the corner, you had another tripe house, Dylan’s. So you had three tripe, drisheen places at the top of Corbett’s lane, at the junction of Corbett’s -- top of Corbett’s Lane and Kearney’s Lane. And at one -- at one o’clock in the day the hooter would go in those places and a lot of women would come out with their rubber aprons and their clogs for their dinner break, and they all lived in the laneways around. So you had plenty -- you had a lot of work going on in those places because you -- as well as tripe and drisheen houses you had slaughter-houses. And to go back to those days, we weren’t far from the countryside, so you could understand that a lot of the men that lived in the area were butchers, and predominantly the butchers came from the north side of the city rather than the south side, because of the area that they were, you had the slaughter-houses. Now, as well as that then, you had families who, their father reared them, and they earned their wages by being cattle-drovers. They’d go up -- the men’d go up Fairhill at two or three o’clock in the morning, round up cattle belonging to the farmers and hunt the cattle from there down to Midleton, or to Carrigaline, or out to Macroom for the fairs at seven o’clock. As a matter of fact, there was one fair held every Saturday morning right over off Anglesea Street, across from the Garda Station, in that little square there across from the Garda Station. Every Saturday morning you had a fair there, and there’d be sheep and pigs on sale there. And those two pubs, one -- the two of them are there but one is idle at the moment -- and eh twas -- they were farmers’ pubs.


Cork Folklore Project , “Johnny Chris Kelleher: The Evening Echo, Schooldays, Tuberculosis,” accessed July 17, 2024,