Girlie Holly (nee O’Donovan) was born at Glasheen in Cork City in 1915. She married Joe Holly in 1945 and died in her 91st year in 2006. From the age of eleven, until her death, she spent her holidays in Courtmacsherry. In her late eighties, she wrote a memoir of her youth. This is the chapter she wrote on holidaying in Courtmacsherry.
WHERE WE STAYED IN COURTMAC
I think we came to Courtmac first in 1926. Lena worked with Kathleen Donovan from Courtmacsherry and it was through this connection that we first came. The first house we stayed in belonged to Thady O’Donovan (always known as Thady the Guard because he was the Guard on the Courtmacsherry train). Billy and Chrissie Murphy now occupy this house. Thady was Kathleen Donovan’s father and grandfather to Una Cox. The following year we stayed in Annie O’Driscolls. In each of these houses, the family made some of the rooms available to us, my mother would buy the food and it was cooked for us.
Next we stayed in the house belonging to Mrs. O’Donovan who was a sister of Mrs. Jeffers. We stayed in this house for several years, certainly until 1933 and perhaps longer. Nobody lived in this house, so a Mrs. Minihane used to get the house ready for us. Barry and I would go to Courtmac on the early train and get unpacked and settled in before the rest of the family followed on a later train. We had more space and freedom in this house even if there was a little more work to do since we prepared our own meals etc. Then Billy Jeffers, nephew of Mrs. O’Donovan came home from sea and inherited the house. He did not let it out in the summer any more so we had to find another place to stay. For one year we stayed in Johnny O’Donovan’s house, which is now owned by Wolstenholmes.
While we stayed in the village we got our milk, butter, bread and other odds and ends at Michael John O’Donovan’s. Michele and Dan O’Dwyer and their children Donal, Kevin and Claire now live in Michael John’s house.
There were many other shops in the village then. Starting at the Timoleague side of the village, the first shop belonged to Mr. O’Regan. He sold shirts, shoes, boots, underwear and what we called rubber dollies (plimsolls or runners) We also got paraffin oil and methylated spirits for the Primus stove there and Mr. O’Regan also stocked the pickers needed to clear the little hole in the Primus. Mrs. O’Driscoll kept the next shop down the street. Further down was Michael John’s, then Fa Doo’s (O’Donovan’s, now Annie May’s) where Mr.& Mrs. O’Donovan ran a little lending library for many years. The books were acquired from the Academy Library in Cork and Mary Burchell’s romantic novels and Zane Grey’s stories of the Wild West predominated. I am sure we read the same books every summer, but we were glad of them on the wet days.
The next shop down the street was Flemings, which later became the Post Office. In those days the Post Office was at Pier View and run by the O’Briens. Dermot and Richard O’Mahony now own Pier View. Next came Hodnetts – until recently the Post Office and Mrs. Coakley who sold fish and kept greyhounds lived in the house just beyond The Anchor Bar. On the terrace, in what is now Christian Just’s house, lived the Waugh sisters. Bridie Waugh ran a guesthouse and tea rooms and had the only fridge in the village. She sold Ice Cream and obliged us in later years when we stayed in Larry O’Rourke’s by keeping rashers and sausages in her fridge for our Sunday morning fry up!
The last shop in the village was Whelton's, run first by Mr. and Mrs. Whelton and later by their only daughter Peggy. On Saturday mornings a country market was held in the old Protestant Schoolhouse, now owned by Dominic Kelly
At that time we had to travel to Timoleague for meat. We also got vegetables and soft fruit at Travers. Later Paddy Drake, father of Martha etc., opened a shop in the garage next to the Lifeboat Station where he sold meat. At a later stage Barry’s from Timoleague opened a shop three days a week in the village.
When Jeffers was no longer available for letting, we stayed for a year at Hollands – now Dolly Crowleys – just outside the village. After that we rented a house at Ramsay Hill (it was either the first or second on the right). The roof of this house has been raised and it is now a much bigger house than it was then. When we stayed there, Joe and the boys said that the ceiling upstairs was so low that they had to put their heads out through the skylight in order to be able to put on their trousers!
After Ramsay Hill, we went to Tim Peter Murphys, a farmhouse on the road down to Broad Strand from the Lislee Road.
Then we stayed for many years at Larry O’Rourkes. When we stayed there first, his mother was still alive. We also stayed at Cahalane’s of Woodpoint. It was there that Mary Holly took her first steps aged 13 months.
We stayed with Sheila Hodnett in Hamilton Row in the early sixties. She had ‘the Yank’ Mike Deasy as a lodger in the winter. He spent his days in the pub. He eventually wanted to stay on with Sheila during the summer, which meant we would not have had enough bedroom space, so we moved next door to McCarthys. Later we moved to Jim Hurley’s house also on Hamilton Row. Around this time, the Glasheen end of the family stayed in the Hotel Lodge for a few summers.
My brother Michael rented a house on a year-to-year tenancy for quite a few years. This house, now Pier View (see above) was a double house and we stayed there for several years. Then Sean O’Leary & Mary bought a cottage at Ardgehane ‘out the parish’ and we spent eleven happy summers there in a mobile home beside their cottage. We stayed in the Hotel cottages for three years after Ardgehane was sold and since then we have been staying in Liam Murphy’s chalet, Tamarisk, at Broad Strand.
When we were teenagers in the village, we gathered after tea and walked in a group to Broad Strand, Coolim Cliffs or out to the Point. We returned singing all the way home. We stopped at the Tennis Court, sat on the wall and sang. The residents in the Terrace came out and sat listening, sometimes asking us to sing songs of their choice. We dispersed and made out way home – before dark – not like nowadays.
Another outing was to go on donkey butt picnics to Dunworley. We borrowed the donkey cars and rode and walked with our ‘grub’ in the carts. I remember one time a Mr. O’Leary from Barrack Street in Cork who was on holiday and who had a car, brought a gramophone to the picnic and we danced on the cliffs at Dunworley.
Fr. Sheehy was the curate in Courtmac in our early days. He arranged football matches – the locals v the visitors. These were great fun. Fr. Sheehy would always come and welcome the visitors when they arrived. I remember particularly that he called to see my mother when she arrived the summer after my father died, to sympathise and see how we were getting on.
The Catholic Boy Scouts used to camp in Sexton’s field in Broad Strand and the night before they broke up they used to hold a bonfire party to which we were all invited. The Kinsale, Bandon and Macroom Rugby Clubs used to camp out at the Point and they usually converged on Mrs. (Ma) Coakleys at night. They were an older bunch than us.
Every Sunday we went to the Railway Station to see who would get off the train, as excursions were held on Sundays during the summer. Later still we watched and counted the Bus tours coming around the corners in Burren and nearly every house had signs up in their windows advertising ‘Teas’. This was also in evidence on Regatta Day. There was always a band on Regatta Day and they all had their tea at Bridie Waughs.