Thursday 23 November 2017

Vanished Ireland: Memories captured in new Munster books

Eoin McNamara in
Barrington's Hospital in
1988 in an image from the
Limerick book
Eoin McNamara in Barrington's Hospital in 1988 in an image from the Limerick book
Dana at the Montrose Ballroom, Macroom, in 1970, with Michael 'Miko' Kelleher on far left

Barry Duggan and Ralph Riegel

THEY are moments captured in time, but also moments that could easily have been lost.

Photographs that came close to being thrown out are the basis of two new books -- published in Limerick and Cork -- that offer a social insight into life in the last century.

Eoin McNamara (25) from Stenson Park in Limerick was only 22 months old when he underwent the final procedure ever undertaken at Barrington's Hospital on March 31, 1988, before it fell victim to health cuts.

"I'm 25 now and don't remember much about the day. The photo was taken by Owen South who works for the 'Limerick Leader'," Eoin, who works as a forklift driver, said.

"I was having grommets put in my ears. I was just after taking medication and was probably a very happy baby at the time. I don't know who the nurse was behind me," he said.

"I'm getting a lot of phone calls from all my mates slagging me off. They said they'd never thought they'd see me in a dress. The hospital dress at the time was a gown and there I am ready to go to theatre," he said.

Eoin's mother, Francis, was with him at the time.

"Everyone was after being vacated from the hospital -- that's why all the beds were empty. Eoin was just sitting there," Ms McNamara said.

"A theatre nurse came in and picked him up and said: 'It was the end of an era with Eoin'. She just burst into tears and took him down for the procedure. I took him home the same day. He was the last patient in Barrington's," Ms McNamara said. It is now run as a private hospital.

'Limerick -- A stroll down memory lane' is published by Sean Curtin and features photos from 1928 to 1989.

"It features all aspects of Limerick life and the photos were kindly given to me by people from all over Limerick," Mr Curtin said.

Meanwhile, a collection of photographs and negatives, the life work of Dennis Dinneen in Macroom, Co Cork, were saved by his wife, Claire, after his untimely death in 1985.

The photos were offered to photographer Sean Mac Suibhne and they became the inspiration for a book that depicts a long-vanished Ireland.

Michael 'Miko' Kelleher (80), who features in the book, said the photos are like a time machine to a more innocent time.

"I remember it well. We were in the Montrose Ballroom with Dana way back in 1970 when Dennis photographed us. I never thought that 41 years later I'd be in a book," he told the Irish Independent.

Miko will now be one of the guests of honour at tomorrow night's book launch.

Mr Dinneen -- a vintner and taxi driver -- spent half his life capturing events in his beloved Lee valley.

His images ranged from weddings in the 1950s to local GAA finals and from the flooding of the Lee Valley through to the long-closed Macroom railway.

Now, the images have inspired the book, 'Muskerry Through the Lens of Dennis Dinneen'.

Irish Independent

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