Noreen Cronin: Shandon, The North Infirmary, Childhood



Noreen Cronin: Shandon, The North Infirmary, Childhood


Life History:


Noreen grew up in a tenement in Dominick Street next to Shandon in the early 1950s. She went to the North Pres School and worked at the North Infirmary. Her mother used to deliver babies in the area and helped to wash and lay out the dead. Her father worked in the Asphalt Company and had an extra job at the Opera House.

Noreen remembers American tourists giving her money in Shandon because she looked ‘real’ Irish with her red hair and freckles.

She talks about the Firkin Crane and the Butter Factory.

Noreen also mentions working sewing caps and hats in O'Gorman's factory and how the men all drank tea out of jam jars.
She recalls shops in Shandon Street; Spithere’s where they used to get salted butter and they’d bring a jug to get milk direct from the churn; Paddy Twomeys for offal and bodice and tails, Ormonde and Aherns where you got bread for 50c, JJ Welch’s sold perfume and face cream and operated a book system and Buckleys which sold dresses and uniforms

Noreen goes on to describes the milk and cake shops they went to. Mentions An Stád on Leitrim Street and Nosey O’Keefe’s where they bought sweets.

Recalls Jerry Healy's pawn shops and the return of the Sunday suits on a Monday.

Noreen describes how her grandmother, sister, herself worked at The North Infirmary.

She remembers the childhood games they played, skippy, picky, rounders, release, marbles, spin the bottle, Bob and Joan’s and the songs they used to sing whilst playing. Swimming at the Mardyke and the Lee. At that time children could be arrested for playing football on the street.

Delivering babies and the washing and laying out of the dead and wakes.

Describes the household chores: washing the ware and old washing boards.

She also talks about her aunts going for half pints in the snug. Mentions Jack Brown’s pub in Dominick Street and Nellie Naughton and Paddy Donoghue who sang there.

Recalls the food they ate; tripe, Drisheen, offal, hack bone and stews. They drank beef tea when sick. Rasa and currant cake at Christmas.

Talks about the night the Opera House burned down.

Ceilis and old-time waltzing, and watching The Dixielanders (The Dixies) at St Francis Hall. Watching other Big bands at The Arcadia.

Bonfire Night and drinking Rasa and orange juice.

Travelling on the Inisfallen and emigration.

Cork prisons and a man being arrested for stealing a loaf of bread.


9 August 2012




Cork, Ireland, 1920s-2000s


Other Interviews in the Colection:

CFP_SR00387_sheehan_2010; CFP_SR00388_sheehan_2010; CFP_SR00389_healy_2010; CFP_SR00390_kelleher_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_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


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project






1 .wav File




50min 44sec


Commons Road, Cork

Original Format

. wav

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,

NC: Mr Ray, that’s right. Mr Ray. He cleaned. He fixed our shoes for us and then the Firkin Crane. The Firkin Crane was part of the Butter Factory, I’d say because that was the Butter Factory and I remember they’d come then with a big lorry and a thing coming out, like a pipe coming out of it and they’d put in all the stock what we used call the butter and there’d be murder then because if they spilt any of it, we’d skite, you know, we’d skite so em the Butter Factory was there years and years like we had O’Gormans which I worked in.

GH: Could you tell me a little bit about that?

NC: Sewing the peeks of the caps in O’Gormans and Mr O’Gorman himself was the boss. Then all the men were down and what fascinated me more when I was in there first. They were all drinking out of jam jars and water or they made tea or anything, they’d be the lot out of jam jars. I used be fascinated. You see I was very young going to O’Gormans.

GH: What age were you at that time?

NC: Fifteen only I’d say. My sister worked there as well on a machine.

GH: It was all hats were made there?

NC: All hats and caps because the cap came in, you’d have peek caps where it had to be stitched. They usen’t be stitched but then they got a new thing stitching so I was one of the stitchers that’s how I came a very good stitcher I think, stitching all the caps in O’Gormans and one little mistake and t’would be brought back to you.

GH: Did it burn down in the end?

NC: It burned down there only a few years ago and I don’t think it ever re-opened anymore.