Joe Scanlan: Grattan Street, Healthcare, The Marsh

Joe Scanlon.jpg


Joe Scanlan: Grattan Street, Healthcare, The Marsh


Joe recalls the dispensary on Grattan Street, its waiting room and the names of the doctors who worked there. He describes in detail his visit there to get a vaccination as a child. Discusses medical treatments administered at home by his mother including those for fleas and head lice.

Recalls as a teenager being told by a doctor who was smoking to give up smoking. Comments on how widespread smoking was at the time. Humorous story about asking a Garda for a cigarette.

Story of Cork character ‘Kick the Bucket’, a young man who was convinced he was going to die very soon but lived to be 81.

Speaks of playing on the streets of The Marsh and The Middle Parish as a child and how they would go to the Mercy Hospital if they were injured playing football. Describes rival groups of boys from Grattan Street and the Coal Quay having fruit throwing fights.

Describes how as a child he used a skull from a tomb in St Peter’s Cemetery to use as a Jack O Lantern. Returns to the topic of underage smoking and acquiring cigarettes from adults.

Explains a form of recycling where he collected empty glass bottles to return to a shop in exchange for money. He used the money for cigarettes and matches or to pay for a cinema ticket. Recalls Dermot’s Cake shop on Adelaide Street.

Talks about his passion for fishing, avoiding the bailiff and selling his fish catch to local fish and chip shops. Tells of his fishing rob being confiscated by the bailiff and retrieving it.   

Mentions children taking sweets from a shop on Sheares Street without paying for them.

Discusses income inequality and buying clothes on the Coal Quay. Explains how he made floats for fishing from wine bottle corks made by his dad’s friend for Woodford Bourne’s on Sheares Street.

Reflects on crime and safety in the city centre and tells the story of a house being burgled where the owner shouted out that he had nothing worth stealing.

Outlines some long standing Grattan Street residents’ concerns about their neighbourhood today including students, student parties, students drinking on the street, cark parks, bus routes, student accommodation, Edel House, increased traffic, methodone clinics, community Gardaí and the HSE’s use of buildings in the city centre.

Remembers Shawlies on the Coal Quay, including his own grandmother. Describes the products sold there and farmers bringing vegetables with dirt on them by horse and cart. Mentions Ryan’s Pub on North Main Street and how the farmers might frequent it.

Speaks of the simple food and meals he ate, and how his shoes were pawned but bought back in time to wear for mass.

Recalls the violence and fear of St Joseph’s School and wanting to leave to go fishing. Speaks of his preference for St. Francis School where he was not beaten and learned a lot. Outlines getting food and cocoa in the morning at school. Tells the story of a father confronting a Presentation Brother for an excessive beating to his son.          

Talks about food and his mother making bread and mentions other foods and treats from his grandmother.

Speaks about fatal diseases in the past including mumps. To receive medication in the dispensary you had to bring your own empty bottle.

Speaks about the work of the Middle Parish Community Centre especially in relation to addiction. This prompts Joe to speak of his own story of dealing with his alcohol addiction, the risks alcohol posed to his health, liver disease, his desire to see his grandchildren grow up and his happiness now he has successfully remained sober for many years.

Mentions the Barrett family who lived in the dispensary building.


25 July 2019




Cork Folklore Project Audio Archive


Cork Folklore Project










88 Minutes 55 Seconds


Middle Parish Community Centre, Grattan Street

Original Format


Bit Rate/Frequency

24bit / 48kHz

Time Summary

0.00.00 - 0.00.30


0.00.30 - 0.01.41

Memories of dispensary and Vaccination

Dispensary was a beautiful looking building especially as it was surrounded by tenements.

Barrett family were caretakers. 6 GPs worked there and remembers 4: Dr Galvin (low-sized woman), Dr Jimmy Young (who played hurling for Cork), Dr Kiely (male), Dr Michael Cagney his family’s GP, delivered him and his brother at home. Waiting room was like church seats. His mother usually brought with him.

0.01.41 - 0.06.06

Vaccination in the Dispensary Grattan Street

Vaccination: his dad brought him. Front door was in Grattan Street. Queue of boys outside. None of the boys who came out looked happy, they all suffered from the fear and pain. Joe was about 8 years old. Instrument doctor had was like a branding iron for cattle or a bolt. The needle was the size of a nail. Dad held his wrist and arm very tight. His dad brought him for ice-cream afterwards.

When he was 12 there was another round of vaccines and he was determined not to take them until he discovered they were like sugar cubes not needles.

0.06.06 - 0.09.24

Fleas and Head Lice treatment

Everyone had fleas and headlice, but some of his friends still deny that they had it possibly out of shame. Everyone left their doors open, as they had nothing to rob. Dads got paid on Friday night and there was a small party at the weekend- raspberry and crisps in the pub.

Went to the dispensary to get prescription for head lice.

When mother cut his hair she put it in newspaper and threw it in fire and you could hear fleas and lice banging. “Scabs and bits of hair here and there” You could see dead fleas and lice on the back of other boys collars in school.

DDT “defestor” Mrs Shinnick? Pharmacist gave them a green bottle which smelled. The liquid burned the scalp. Fine tooth comb to get the dead lice out. The smell would last for hours. And in school the following day people would recognise it and know you had had lice.

0.09.24 - 0.10.53

Smoking Doctor trying to get him to give up smoking

Dr Jimmy Young (or maybe Dr Cagney) moved to a private clinic on the South Mall. Joe was smoking as a young teenager. If he was caught a neighbour would kick him in the arse before telling his dad. His dad never hit him but would put his hands on his belt which was sufficient threat. Dad brought him to Dr Young to be told how bad smoking was. And while he was telling Joe to give up cigarettes he was smoking a Woodbine cigarette at the time. People smoked everywhere except church.

0.10.53 - 0.12.07

Dared to ask Garda for a cigarette

Doesn’t drink or smoke now. Had to take a dare when asked by a friend. Friend dared him to ask a Garda for a cigarette. Garda kicked him in the arse. Walked like John Wayne for a week!

0.12.07 - 0.15.30

‘Kick the Bucket’: hypochondriac ‘character’ in Dispensary

A head cold was serious at times. Practically impossible to get a house call from a doctor. So they would be bundled up in sheets like a mummy and transported to the dispensary. Mother saw a man in the waiting room nicknamed “Kick the Bucket” because he was a hypochondriac convinced he was going to die soon.

Joe saw him as he got older and went to the doctor on his own. Kick the Bucket died at 81 and the news spread faster than the fire at the Opera House or Jennings.

0.15.30 - 0.15.46

End of Dispensary

After a while doctors got their private surgeries and A&Es accident and Emergencies opened. The dispensary sort of dwindled out.

0.15.46 - 0.16.42

Grattan Street injuries Playing as Children

Lots of memories from around Grattan Street area. Born on Devonshire Street near Pat MacDonald Paints, and there was a big population living in the Marsh. More than 100 children playing on the streets around Peter Street and Grattan Street. Alleyways, where car parks are now, there were their soccer pitches. They counted 120 potholes in their soccer pitch, big enough to fall knee deep into. If you fell in you could twist an ankle or break a leg. Friends would lift you out of the way of the pitch but you had to crawl to the Mercy Hospital yourself because the match had to go on.

0.16.42 - 0.18.59

Battles and fights with rival groups of boys

Their rivals were the Coal Quay boys. Saturday evening they would raid the Coal Quay for the left over rotten fruit. They had timber palettes set up as a barricade and after 12 o’clock mass on a Sunday the Coal Quay boys would come. (had to go to mass otherwise someone would tell the Presentation Brother or you parents. Joe did miss a few) Battering match would start. Rotten apples. Soggy bananas. Tomatoes were the best. No stones. Whoever ran out of ammunition first you had to run away. 30 guys running down Coleman’s Lane would be easy targets. But the Marsh lads could spread out on Grattan Street.

0.18.59 - 0.24.29

Halloween skull as Jack O Lantern from Tomb in St Peters

There was no real fighting just wrestling. Maybe some fighting with firsts. No kicking someone in the head. Boxing with community centre against Mitchelstown. Joe couldn’t hit a small boxer and they had to stop the fight.

Around the same time it was Halloween in St Peter’s graveyard all the tombs and headstones were in the centre not along the side. They were able to get into the tombs and went in with a match and were surrounded by bones in the dark. Didn’t need pumpkins they decided they would get a nightlight scandal, buy matches from Mr Barry and get a skull from the tomb and scares girls.

Heard something moving in the tomb one night. His dad was a postman and he had a big torch but Joe could never find it when he wanted it.

Always bring cigarette butts out of the tomb. Used safety pins to get the most out of the cigarette.

0.24.29 - 0.26.24


Cigarettes and getting money from empty bottles

8pm in the evening and at 8am the doctors and surgeons left or arrived at the Mercy Hospital, and they could’ve smoked in their offices at the time. Doctors sometimes threw away a cigar butt. Sometimes the children followed a doctor for 10 minutes and he might not throw the butt away! As they got older they went to Mr Barry’s shop and could get 2 fags (cigarettes) and a match for an empty bottle of Lucozade, which they could get from the Mercy Hospital. All the glasses were returnable at the time. They decided to take more bottles. 2 bottles would get you 4p four pence and you could go to the pictures (cinema) for 3p thruppence (three pence) and have money left over for cigarettes and a match. Tanora bottles from Jennings.

0.26.24 - 0.31.03

Fishing for Money trouble with the Bailiff

Dermot’s Cake shop on Adelaide street best cakes and creamy milks straight form the cow.

Decided to take up poaching to get some money. Lots of mullet and salmon in the river at the time. Was rarely caught poaching because he could plank (hide) them at home within a few seconds. Sold them to Burns on Douglas Street, the Uptown Grill in MacCurtain Street (which must have lasted 60 years) the woman there said to bring over any more because they’re so fresh the blood is still hot in them!   

Mr Hurley the bailiff caught him occasionally and took his fishing rod and reported him to his mother and tell her to send Joe over to collect his fishing rod. He’d ask which rod was his in a room full of confiscated rods. Joe’s was the cheapest “Black Prince” but he’d get a more expensive one. Needed money for cinema and chips. Best two chippers: Hayden’s on Shandon Street and Kiely’s on Maylor Street. Wrapped in newspaper, lots of vinegar and salt. Tastiest part was to squeeze the vinegar out of the newspaper even with the dye running in it.

Slogging apples down the Mardyke selling to woman Dooney Dawney.

0.31.03 - 0.34.24


Money & Sweets: Selling fishing Rod & tricking shopkeeper

Sold the rod for money to an angler and bought a cheap rod again. He was a well-known angler on the Lee. Good anglers and fairly good anglers but luck plays a big part. Ahern sisters owned a shop a Sheare Street (Sheares Street). Penny bars and sweets ‘blackjack’, ‘cough no more’, ‘macaroon’ (Erinmore tobacco). Asked for penny bar that was up high so she would have to climb up and they would take a bar from the lower shelf. They once took it in turns to ask how much a bar was even thought they were all a penny and she eventually banned them all for life from the shop. It took them a year or two to get back on good terms.  

0.34.24- 0.35.55


Safety of City in Past, Making floats for fishing, Social & Income Inequality

Never any trouble when growing up. Joe’s 2nd eldest son is 38 lives on Northside, daughter on the southside and eldest son still lives in the Marsh. His children would say the Marsh was a great place to rear children.

Where the Woolshed Bar [on Sheares Street] is now used to be Woodford Bournes the wine makers. And on the corner Paddy worked the guillotine to make ‘the corkies’ corks for the wine bottles for Woodford Bournes. Joe’s dad was a friend of Paddy & “they used have a drink together”. Joe would go to Paddy for bits of cork to make floats for fishing. He would bore a hole through the cork for the fishing line. “so we got everything for nothing”. Even got clothes from Coal Quay for very little. Some of his friends deny that they ever wore clothes from the Coal Quay. Joe thinks there was no in between either you were rich or you were poor.

0.35.55 - 0.36.45


Story of Man with nothing worth stealing

Remembers old man second-next-door-neighbour and there was someone prowling around his house. He had nothing worth stealing only a transistor radio which everyone had so there was no one to sell it to. This neighbour shouted out “come on in if you want something. I have nothing and you’re welcome to half of that!”

0.36.45 - 0.38.50

The Marsh today: Families vs Students

Joe’s son Michael would still love to raise his children in the Marsh area, even with the volume of traffic.

Joe thinks the Grattan Street area cannot take anymore offices or traffic. He says that the HSE have many of the buildings.

Joe is lucky as he owns his own house. Married a Coal Quay girl Breda Dineen.

There are plans to build student accommodation with 350 rooms on Grattan Street where the Munster Furniture and Hardware was. Joe says he will sell up and leave the parish if that is built. It will break his heart to do it but he can’t put up with any more.

Talks about Edel House being discussed on the radio. And thinks there were a lot of “undesirables” in there. In recent times they were warned to behave themselves on the streets and Joe thinks that they do. He thinks that as well as genuine cases there are people looking for houses.

Joe would like the HSE to take some buildings further out in areas like Montenotte, Model Farm Road and the Lee Road. He thinks that people who work for the HSE live in these places so won’t choose them for buildings to provide services. As a result buildings and services are put in the city centre.

0.38.50 - 0.40.25


Shawlies and booming trade on Coal Quay

South Main Street, Castle Street, North Main Street when he was a child was booming.

Joe’s grandmother was a shawlie. Joe’s wife re-enacts the shawlies. Joe remembers vermin everywhere on Coal Quay especially on Monday morning. Near where Bodega is now where Clayton Love’s used to be, the Loft Carpet is there now shawlies could trade in there too. You could trade indoors but you paid more to be out of the rain than trading outside. Joe’s grandmother traded under the clock and only sold fish- mackerel and apples. You’d be surprised how many ‘lords and ladies’ would buy their fruit and veg in the Coal Quay because it was fresh with mud still on the cabbage brought in by farmers on horse and cart.

0.40.25- 0.41.15


Ryan’s Pub on North Main Street and sleeping Farmers

Mary Ryans bar many people went in there in the mornings for a ‘pick me up’ to keep warm. Farmers would abandon the horse and cart to go in there. Most horses would know their way home even if the farmer had too many “nips of Powers”. The farmer would fall asleep in the back of the cart and wake up in Blarney or Ovens. Joe would jump on the back of the cart without the farmer knowing and go out the Carrigrohane Straights which was the countryside then. Then they might swim in the Lee Fields sometimes in their clothes. ‘We were young, foolish but happy’.

0.41.15 - 0.42.05

Food, Shoes and the Pawn

Weren’t getting T-bone steaks at home. But they had potatoes, vegetables and homemade skull (bread). Was never hungry. Mother would get remnants of lino from the Munster Furniture and Hardware and cut them for insoles for their shoes. They had good shoes for going to mass which you had to take off straight away at home to be sent to Jones’s Pawn on the end of Shandon Street.  

0.42.05- 0.43.30


School Violence and good teacher

Hated St Joseph’s School because always got kicked in the ankle or had his toe stepped on or a clatter on the back of the ear for not being able to spell. Left there and went to St Francis School and the entrance was from North Main Street by Bradley’s Supermarket or by Broad Lane beyond the dispensary.

Learned more in last two years in St Francis from lay teachers than he did from St Joseph. Teachers may have scolded them but never hit them. “Anything you don’t understand ask me” the teacher told them. Joe was watching the clock for when to leave, and watching the tides to know when the tides were bringing back the fish.   

0.43.30 - 0.44.50


Changes in the Marsh for families: safety & shopping

Joe’s son would love to live in the Marsh to rear his children. Couldn’t let them run around on the street with the traffic. But they would have Fitzgerald’s Park and close to Mercy Hospital. 5 minutes from 3 different supermarkets. Sometimes hear people singing or shouting coming back from the pub. The neighbours come to watch. Only incident he remembers in 36 years is that a few car mirrors were broken. Grattan Street is off the beaten track despite Washington Street being so close.

0.44.50 - 0.46.15


Food or not at School

Not given food in St Francis School but given food in St Joseph’s in the morning “to toughen you up for the beating you would get in the afternoon”. Cocoa and creamy buns in the morning. A few years later they cut back to scones which weren’t the same!

One time Joe didn’t get cocoa and a bun because his dad had gotten a promotion. And it upset Joe that all his friends got it.

At the age of 10 or 11 he was in St Francis “the Rowdy Boys College”. St Peter and Pauls School was before Joe’s time.

0.46.15 - 0.48.17

Food and Cooking

Homemade skull or loaf of bread. His mother would make the bread. And nine times out of ten it would turn out right. the Hills were the biggest population of their aunts and cousins. Across the road from them was nanny Hill. Joe would get his dessert there. For school lunch he’d go home and get a sandwich with soup in the winter and diluted raspberry. Cheese sandwich- “poor man’s meat”. Very lucky to get a ham and cheese sandwich. When going back to school he would pause outside his house no 9 Devonshire Street. Across the road was 34 Nanny Hill’s house and she would bring over the heel of homemade skull plastered with blackcurrant jam which he’d eat on the way back to St Joseph’s on the ‘Dyke [Mardyke] only 5 minutes’ walk, but took him 10 or 15 minutes because he didn’t want to be punctual. He would get a punch from a brother for having a ring of jam around his lips.

0.48.17 - 0.49.40


School beating by Presentation Brother and boy’s father’s revenge

There is a [Presentation] brother who is now married and living in Grange with a son and daughter. Joe would call him names if he ever met him again. A friend of Joe’s spent three nights in the Mercy Hospital after a beating from this brother. He made him take down his trousers until he only had his Y-front underwear on and beat him there with a four-foot bamboo cane. He was lying on his belly in the Mercy.

There’s a black fire escape in St Joseph’s which is still there. The father of that boy had the brother hanging over the fire escape. People were screaming. And Joe and others were hoping that he would drop him.

0.49.40 - 0.51.39


Relief after school, Priest Friend assisting the Marsh Community

Joe’s life began when he left that school because the fear was gone. He was able to concentrate in school then. In St Joseph’s the teacher was only interested in teaching 4 or 5 smart guys and the rest were punch bags. When Joe was 21 he had as good a job as any of his peers. The brothers were sadists he says. Thinks it took 5 years to become a priest and 7 to become a brother. They were young men who had never seen life and mostly put there by their parents.

A retired priest, friend of Joe’s, ‘an t-athair Ó Murchú’ who was the priest in St Peter and Paul’s and is now in Belgooley. Joe goes down to him once a week on a Sunday and they bring him a creamy cake. When people were fighting for things in the parish he supported them, even when they weren’t agreeing with the HSE. The car park where Munster Furniture is the HSE were talking about putting a multi-storey car park there 30 years ago which was diverted to Dunnes Stores Car Park.

0.51.39 - 0.53.03


The Marsh Community object to multi-storey carpark

People in the Marsh chained themselves across Grattan Street to stop trucks coming in to build a multi-storey car park. But they told the Gardaí in advance so they were on their side and they had no trouble. Joe knew the sergeant well and they used advise them the best way to have a peaceful protest and yet stop everything.

Joe has many other memories but feels a little bit under pressure because of the recorder.

Other things that they did ‘fighting for their rights’ because they could see offices and buildings going up that they opposed.

0.53.03 - 0.58.30


Problems with multi-storey car park and Student Accommodation in the Marsh

Was in a meeting with the Council and Paul Moynihan from City Hall explained what was happening. The council own so much of the car park and building to right of Munster Furniture and Hardware. So if the council don’t sell these to the new developers there won’t be enough room for the student accommodation. Joe doesn’t have anything against students but object to their parties which have aged some local residents. Thinks in the past students didn’t behave how they do now.

Joe & his wife decided they’d leave if the student accommodation is built, they don’t mind whether they go to the northside or to the southside, but somewhere on a bus route or somewhere near the city. Joe says he’s getting emotional because he always swore that he would die in the Marsh.

Joe would like to see a small 5 or 6 storey hotel being built instead and there’s space for coaches. Or family housing being built.

They named out other places where student accommodation could be built eg. The Good Shepherd building across from the Lee Fields and Joe was told the students would have so far to walk because they would be high-end students.

Joe says the students behave like riff-raff when they are drunk.

He was told the accommodation would have security.

Joe knows one of the security men for the student accommodation on Lancaster Quay and they are behaved inside the complex but outside there is no control.

Joe fears that students will be drinking in doorways in the Marsh or outside on tables which are being built for them to study on. Joe said that if they are 320 high-end students they will have cars and nowhere to park them, and they will have more money for alcohol. So Joe said the riff-raff students would be better!

Joe can’t believe a walk from St Anne’s to UCC is too far.  

0.58.30 - 1.04.41


Sicknesses past and changes now

People died from diseases which no one knew what caused them. Some diseases that were killing people have simple cures now.

Joe is more concerned about sicknesses today including insects like ticks and leeches.

They would go to the dispensary for medication and prescription. If anything was too serious they would send you to the A&E but first get you to sign a form saying you had visited him so that he could get paid.  

Lots of measles. Chickenpox. Mumps used to be a killer disease especially for men as it could make you impotent.

If you went to get medication from the Dispensary you had to bring your own empty bottle. Completely different attitude from doctors now. Might have been given tablets even if there was nothing wrong with you.

People who were sent to St Anne’s because of a drinking/ alcohol problem for a few weeks but never came out.

Joe didn’t get a clip in the ear growing up but he did do it for his children.

Joe used to drink and just wanted to sleep after it. He thinks that women today wouldn’t take the abuse that women used to put up with.

One man who went to St Anne’s was signed out by his niece years later and he was afraid of the double-decker bus and went back in of his free will to St Anne’s.

1.04.41 - 1.06.53


Issues with HSE Services in the city Centre

Joe hopes HSE look elsewhere for offices rather than in the city centre.

Methodone clinics around Cork Joe was told need to be in the city because they won’t travel for it which means it needs to be near Grattan Street.

There’s a Community Garda. But Joe and his wife have not seen a Garda on the beat for three weeks.

1.06.53 - 1.09.04


Work of the Middle Parish Community Centre

Joe and others including George [Patterson] do their best to keep the Middle Parish Community Centre going.

Narcotics anonymous rent out a room upstairs. Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous. There’s been no vandalism.

Joe saw a man he knew going to Narcotics Anonymous outside La Verna near St Francis Church and he shook his hand because he was proud of him for trying to give up.

1.09.04 - 1.26.27


Experiences as an alcoholic and trying to give up

Joe describes himself as a “dry alcoholic”. Joe hasn’t drunk for six years. He didn’t realise he had a drink problem because he was never aggressive or barred from anywhere.

It took Joe years to realise he was unable to home after work without first going to the pub. And that he was having a few pints in a number of bars and that this was adding up to ten pints a night. He decided eventually that he would stop. If someone had told him that he had a drink problem he would have been “highly insulted” and thought he could stop drinking any time he wanted.

He went to a few AA meetings and they didn’t suit him.

He used to smoke 55/60 cigarettes a day while driving articulated trucks long distance for 35 years  all over Ireland. He gave up cigarettes and thought it would be easier to give up alcohol.

Ten years ago he gave up alcohol for 2 years. Alcoholics’ Anonymous saying is ‘one day at a time’.  He was down in Inchydoney Hotel with his family and dogs. He was tired after lots of driving to Dublin, Wicklow and delivering salt to Killybegs. He kept track of his progress being off alcohol and appreciated the support of his wife.

He went into the hotel and had some coke. The Munster Final was on. While waiting at a busy bar for more Coke he saw two men he knew drinking stout. And he ordered a pint of Murphys stout after he saw them. He made ten attempts to leave the pint there, but it overpowered him. He had a devil on one shoulder and a guardian angel on the other. He usually drank a pint in four sups. He went close to the toilet for his first sup in case he was sick from not being used to drinking after two years. He ordered a half-pint of Murphys. He felt fairly content because he felt he could handle the alcohol now.

He had two pints of Beamish in Forde’s with a friend of his on a Friday. And slowly he was having more pints and on Wednesdays as well as Fridays until “the drink had a hold of me again”. He knew he couldn’t handle whiskey. Collapsed three times due to liver poisoning.

He had to come home from Turkey when he collapsed, his doctor said they saved his life. He wasn’t allowed to eat or drink for 4 days.

His GP was waiting for him at midnight when he arrived home in Cork and brought him to the Mercy. He told Joe he was lucky because his liver function was only at 52% working. It took 17 hours for his liver to get to 53% working.

After a few weeks he started drinking again. He collapsed at home one morning unconscious for 20 seconds. GP took tests. Went to the Regional Hospital and put in intensive care. Dr Seamus O’Mahony was his liver specialist out there. Seamus told him not to waste his time if he was going to keep drinking and not to come to him without his wife because she would tell the truth about his drinking.

Doctor asked him how many units he drank and Joe asked to speak in pints not units. Joe said 20 pints. The doctor said that’s a lot to have in a week. And Joe’s wife said that’s on a Saturday! Two drinking sessions on a Saturday.

He was getting liver function tests on a regular basis and his liver was getting stronger.

Joe used to give up alcohol two days before going to the doctor but didn’t realise that alcohol makes triglycerides in the body which take days to be broken down.

Joe used drink cans of beer at home when his wife was away. He would vomit it up after two ‘slugs’ or gulps. And then he would try to drink it again.  

He said that you have to admit it to yourself that you have a problem. He realised that if he didn’t stop he wouldn’t see his five grand-children grow up.

He has never been happier than he is now sober. His children can ring him at any time for a lift. And his children can depend on him.

Joe still takes one day at a time.

Joe knew a guy who was 33 years sober and he went to London and started drinking and was knocked down by a bus.

1.26.27 - 1.28.44


Family living in the Dispensary building Grattan Street

Barrett family who lived in the Dispensary had children who are still alive living in southside who would be older than him. “they were all genuine down to earth people”. To the left of where the marriage registrar is now is where they lived. On the right hand side was an old lady sitting in a box like a phone box cut in half. And she would take people’s details as they entered. The double doors to the clinic were closed. The Barrett sons went to St Joseph’s School as well.  

Joe jokes about a previous interview I had with a friend of his Liam O hUiginn, and jokingly says he’s a very old man. Joe also apologises again for not being used to “speaking in public” pointing at the digital recorder.

1.28.44 - 1.28.55


Outro. Interview ends.


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Cork Folklore Project, “Joe Scanlan: Grattan Street, Healthcare, The Marsh,” accessed July 17, 2024,