Liam Ó hUigín: Henry Street, Bonfire Night, Childhood Games, Messenger Boys.



Liam Ó hUigín: Henry Street, Bonfire Night, Childhood Games, Messenger Boys.


Life History:


Liam was born circa 1940. His father was a docker. His mother died when he was 10 and his aunt reared him; she was a widow at 32 and had her own children.
He was a messenger boy in the 1950s; he talks about the job and its good and bad aspects. He remembers an all-night shop, Dermot O’Riordan’s.
He worked for Musgraves and was entitled to one day a week off to pursue further education or training. He talks about having a “plank” which meant a secret place, for hiding stolen apples, or smoking. He remembers some of the words of two rhymes girls used when skipping.
Liam recalls a funny story about a pawnshop. He explains how cooking was done. He tells a story about how the Tramore Road used to be called the Hang Dog Road.
He talks about Bonfire Night and recalls some words from songs they used to sing. He remembers Joseph O’Sullivan’s cold storage facility.
He remembers his father’s allotment. There were few cars in Cork; he remembers Danny Hobbs’ car and its registration number.


24 August 2011




Cork; Ireland: 1940s-2000s.


Interviews with Liam Ō hUigín:
CFP_SR00422_ohuigin_2012; CFP_SR00539_ohuigin_2015; CFP_SR00630_ohuigin_2017:
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_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_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

To view the Cork Memory Map Click Here

Click here to access Liam's entry on the Memory Map

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)


Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project






1 .wav File




34m 40s


Civic Trust House, Popes Quay. Cork City

Original Format


Bit Rate/Frequency



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,

CO’C: And going back to being a messenger boy what would your daily routine have been?

LO’H: Well, the daily routine, you could end up doing anything because, especially with Musgrave’s because Musgrave’s, they had eh a tea, they were tea manufacturers, well they used import the tea, you know and they’d pack it in their own little packages and all this business. And they also had a sweet factory in em, they owned the Metropole Hotel in MacCurtain Street and they also had a sweet factory in Patrick’s Quay so you could end up, you know, now we used deliver stuff to the Old Bridge Restaurant and to the Savoy where they had a café. But as I said you had to go up the back steps, I forget how many steps was there now and there was always something to be done with regards to taking, delivering tea, delivering sugar to the little shops around the town you know like Woodford Bourne’s now and places like that.

CO’C: Were there ever any kind of runs that you didn’t like getting?

LO’H: Well the Savoy was one of ‘em because you’d have two or three hundredweight bags of sugar and they had to go up all the steps that was one we tried to avoid like the plaque but looking back on it, I suppose ‘twas no bother to us really you know. I mean I couldn’t walk up there now with a packet of fags in me pocket not to mind say a hundredweight bag of sugar. But em ‘twas all very exciting and I really, I loved it. I’ll be honest with you and I’ll always remember, now I lived in the Marsh as I say and believe it or not, we had nothing but we had everything. Whereas today they have everything and they have nothing. But em with regard to novelties now, none of us had a bike so the messenger boy’s bike was a great, a great novelty really. But the first time was something that fascinated me and it stuck in my mind ‘twas my first time seeing a round packet of cheese, you know Three Counties cheese and they were in triangular shapes and they all fitted into the box perfectly like and that fascinated me as a child. The idea that they could fit them in so because the only cheese, I can remember was there was a shop in Adelaide Street, we used still say today that ‘twas the first all-night shop in Cork. Dermot’s shop. Dermot O’Riordan was his name and he used be working all night and you could get, ‘twas only a small shop but he had everything, well everything that time was very little compared [laughs] to today. But I can remember going down to Dermot’s for a quarter of cheese, a quarter of cheese now imagine that and he used put a bit of greaseproof paper over the knife and he’d cut the slices and it used come in a square em timber box. And you’d always ask him if he came to the end of the cheese, you’d always ask him for the box for the fire at home. You know so.

CO’C: Yeah.

LO’H: And tea chests. Tea chests in Musgrave’s were another great thing. Now, I can remember working in the E.S.B after, and the older fellows were telling me that as children they were reared in, in tea chests. You know that their mothers would put a little blanket in and put the tea chest on its side and put the child into the tea chest. So I could believe it, you know, now I never actually saw it but there are people down the other road, their all dead now, Lord have mercy on them but they used be telling me little stories now like that when I used be telling them about Musgrave’s; they say I can remember a tea chest at home and the baby used be put into the tea chest or, or they were hold for, they were used for holding blankets and things like that at home. But you’d hardly see a tea chest at all now. And the tea would come from wherever ‘twould come from but they went into Musgrave bags, you know they mightn’t be Musgrave bags at all because I worked in the National Flour Mills after, and there was just a big vat of flour, a big, a vat I suppose you call it and all the local Levis’ and other places, Musgraves for instance now like that, that would be selling flour, they’d all send down their packets and all the flour was put into the different packets, you know like you’d think you’d be getting Musgraves chick flour or Levis’ flour but all the flour was the same if you know what I mean. So they were my memories now of the messenger boys long go, and there was great camaraderie with the messenger boys, you know if you were seen out in the bike without rain gear they’d want to know why you didn’t get raingear and they were just starting to get organised that time which was great because I suppose prior to that do you know ‘twas very hard work I was going up in a bike a cold frosty morning and probably some of them we hadn’t the footwear that they have today. There wasn’t water boots and things like that. Today, but ‘twas great and there used be some fierce stories like about the half pound of sausages now we’ll say up to Montenotte. Montenotte was a famous place for, that everyone now I never had to go to Montenotte from Musgrave’s because they had vans as well you know for the outskirts of the city and em they’d, they’d go as far as Carrigaline now which was a small little place at the time and Ballygarvan, going to the shops. They were wholesalers and they had em, actually I think ‘twas Stuart Musgrave was his name as I say, they were great, they were great employers, they lived in Magazine Road, I think its where the Hayfield Manor is now, I think that was Musgrave’s House one time. And I can remember being sent up, they had their own gardener, Mr Cocoran I think was his name, Mr Coughlan, Mr Coughlan, and you’d be sent up to
Mr Coughlan and he’d be giving you stuff out of the garden you know to take now parsnip now or a few onions to take home with you, ‘tis, they were great little, they were great memories.

CO’C: With the messenger boys, what kind of age would most of them have been?

LO’H: Well, I was only fourteen. I was just out of school, ‘twas my first job. And em that was the norm for, at that particular time, you know the secondary education didn’t come into it only for, you know there
was a few people, I mean there was a few people living near me now, we all went to, not all of us, some of us went to St Joseph’s School in the Mardyke, others went to Peter and Paul’s, St Francis but then you had a few well to do families I suppose that had businesses and their kids went to Pres in the Mardyke, you know. But em I remember going to the one day week, you had and I remember, I remember the boss, my boss in Musgrave’s, Mr Locke was his name, he is a very nice man, and he could never understand that he had to let me off work for one day to go to the one day week.

CO’C: Can you explain for us what the one day week is?

LO’H: The one day week was to em, ‘twas supposed to further your education which to a certain extent it did, I mean I went to the one day week and I saw tools there like em hacksaws and vices and em well loads of little chisels for doing the timber work, you know. Things that I had never seen before and would never have seen ‘em I’d say only for going to the one day week. Now I never made a hand of using them but at least I saw ‘em and when people were talking about them, I knew what they were talking about. But there were some lads that were, that was their forte. They loved it. And some of them became carpenters and things after because they saw this thing when they were in the one day week. And you know they had grand little things like painting now and mechanics and things and motor cars. Now there were very few motor cars that time but they were the upcoming thing like you know.

CO’C: And what age did people go to the one day a week until?

LO’H: You went from, was it from fourteen to sixteen. You had to go one day a week. It was compulsory. And believe it or not, the first one day a week that I went to was up in Wellington Road just above where 96fm are now. Just above that. That was the first place I went to and while I was there it closed down and we were sent down to George’s Quay and we were there for a while and that closed down and we were sent to Parnell Place. I can’t think of the name, there was a paint shop there, I can’t think of the name now just beside where the, where, well ‘tis Crosbie own it now, that big massive building there at the, beside the South Mall and Parnell Place, ‘twas just down beyond that, that’s where I ended up and the group that were with me, they were the same like and we used all, we used keep saying that everywhere we went we closed it down. [laughs] Three one day weeks like. But I don’t know when, they done away with it then, I suppose then young fellows started going to secondary school and everything. So things became more advanced and they done away with the one day week. But people laugh about the one day week, I found it a great asset to me, I’ll be honest with you now as I say I found out about tools and things that I would never have known about.

CO’C: So listen thanks for coming in. We won’ t keep you all day this time because we’d love to do another interview with you.

LO’H: No problem.

CO’C: Later. To redo, retake the interview.

LO’H: No problem at all.

CO’C; The previous one. But I will ask you a couple of questions that we’re asking most people. Do you remember anything to do with apples?

LO’H: Slocking apples. I do. Slocking, I mean every child at that time slocked apples and we all had our own planks as we call, you ask a young fellow today what’s a plank and he’ll tell you ‘tis a bit of timber. But a plank to us was a place where you, ‘twas a secret place, mostly where you hid something like where we went smoking first and when I say went smoking first, I’m talking about twelve years of age and I can remember as plain as anything there’d be a group of us outside the Courthouse on the steps waiting for people to go in to the Courthouse to throw away the butts before they went in. And we’d be like flies around the jam jar diving down for the butt and we’d all have a smoke off the butts. And there’d be lipstick on it and everything but it never bothered us and we’re and I’m still here to telling the tale right. And em but we had planks then for where we went slocking now there was two particular ones that still come to mind; there was one up the Mardyke, I’m trying to think of the name now ‘twas just, Piper’s Merries
used be just above it and there was a little, there was a stream up the side of the Mardyke, the Mardyke stream and then there was a bridge going into the, there was a shop there you know and in at the back of the shop there was an orchard. So you’d go into where Piper’s had the Merries and you came down around the back and you slocked the apples. Now you had a jumper which you would tuck down inside your pants and you shoved all the apples inside the jumper. That was one plank as we’ll say and there was another one up in Farralley Road. There’s all houses there now and there was a couple of houses up there, big houses and there was about three orchards up there. So that was another place where we used to slock the apples and then down from that where we used play our Cowboys and Indians as you go up Orchard Road, there was
a, Jennings had a big house there. Jennings, now they had a big, I suppose they were the same Jennings actually they used make lemonade and all that business in Brown Street and I think they had a furniture store, well Jennings was the name of the furniture store anyway whether, whether they were the one family or not I don’t know, but we knew it as Jennings Wood, plenty of trees there. Yerah, you’d be playing Cowboys and Indians and all that business there.

CO’C: Brilliant.

LO’H: So that was, so that’s Orchard Road there now by Victoria Cross