Fran Kehoe:Memories of the Barracks, 1950s.

Fran Kehoe’s (nee Harrigan) Memories.


The Barracks was a lovely place to live, for the children. All the children would play together, play ‘rounders’ together on the fine summer evenings. We would also go down to the Strand. On a hot summer’s day it was quite common for children to bring a bottle of water and a few slices of bread and jam, thinking it was a picnic, and we’d go off for the day. It was very easy for parents to contact children, and they were extremely safe. I never remember anything happening; they were safe. Children told their mothers if they were going to the Strand. They would say, take care of the little ones. You looked out for each other. Bazzie Brennan owned the Strand. He lived out in Great Connell. The Brennan family owned all the land there, on both sides of the river. When Daddy came in from the Army at half four, and he would come down to the river to see if we were all right. Lads would swim with the flood, jump in and be carried down river to the bridge.


One year, probably in the summer of 1955, Pauline fell into the river. She slipped going down the hill. A dog ran by her and knocked her in. Sonny Dunne managed to rescue her.  Afterwards, daddy dug a step along the side of the river so people wouldn’t slip in that easily.


When gran moved into the Barracks, she lived in No 4 St Patrick’s Terrace. The key of the door was left in the door from that day and it was never taken out. Yet nobody crossed that door without first knocking.


You had a mix of people in the Barracks. You had Mr Gamble, who came to live here and was one of the men who helped start the Cutlery factory. You had a very elderly gentleman called Mr Donnelly, who lived down the veranda with his wife and he was one of the first town commissioners, to my knowledge.


We always had full and plenty as Daddy would sow the garden with every type of vegetable. He also soled our shoes. Mam was great at making a dinner from whatever we grew. She also made our skirts for the religious exam in school, and knitted our jumpers.Two of our old neighbours were well looked after with lettuce, scallions, cabbages all summer.


You had tradesmen living there, and daddy was in the army. Nobody was out of work. Many worked in the factory. We were very fortunate in Newbridge. Even people cycled from as far away as Athy to work here.


At the same time there was a lot of poverty, but it was relative to the times in which we lived. Everybody lived within his or her means. There was no one getting things on higher purchase unless you could pay for your stuff. Everybody had a book for their groceries with one of the shops. You got everything on tick. O’Rourke’s, Cox’s, Eddie O’Connors, Gallivans, Moore’s Kavanaghs, they all had the book. Granny dealt in O’Rourkes. Mrs Moore, to my knowledge, during the Irish Ropes strike in the 50s, looked after the people up that end of town.


The Noones lived in the first house on the way in. Mr Noone was a barber, but he died early (1951). The eldest, Oliver, was good at boxing and was clever. He won a scholarship in school, and we were all so proud of him.


In the Barracks there was one light on a pole at the end of the veranda and another one up near Rose Cottage where we lived.


Mr Kennedy lived in Rose Cottage before we moved there. He was burned to death in that house. My father was a fireman in the army, and on the day of the fire he was on hand to help, and got Mr Kennedy out of the house, but he was dead by that stage. With the house empty, my father said we’d apply to take it on. We did so at the appropriate time, and Mr Andy Moore was a great help in getting our application accepted. Only for him..!!



Fran Kehoe © 2010