Good news this week for Waterford families everywhere. Two new publications have just hit the bookshelves that will make perfect gifts for Waterford people of all ages and backgrounds, especially those living away from home.

Local historians and writers, Jack O’Neill and Bill Irish and Andrew Kelly, have come up with books for the Christmas market that are absolutely superb. Both books are A5 in format and that makes them ideal for posting. Both are choc-a-bloc with old photographs of Waterford city and county, most of which have not been published before. Really, no Waterford home should be without these books on its shelves.

Jack’s book is entitled ‘Waterford through the Lens of Time’ and each photograph is accompanied by informative captions from the author who also includes a number of newspaper articles relating to the pictures in question. The book from Bill and Andrew is entitled ‘A Century of Trade and Enterprise in Waterford’ and 80 per cent of their photographs come from private collections and have never been published before. Again, there are short and snappy captions for each photograph.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Jack, Bill and Andrew for producing such wonderful publications because they really are absolute gems. I will certainly be sending copies of each to relatives living abroad and elsewhere in this country and I know for certain they will be treasured and cherished.

I couldn’t recommend more highly ‘Waterford through the Lens of Time’ by Jack O’Neill which will be officially launched in the City Library, Lady Lane, on Friday next, December 11, at 6pm and ‘A Century of Trade and Enterprise in Waterford’ by Bill Irish and Andrew Kelly which will be officially launched at The Granary Museum of Treasures, Hanover Street, this Saturday afternoon, December 5th, at 3pm.

‘Munster’ story No 1 in Top Ten

It’s nice to get into any Top Ten so we are pleased to announce that our story earlier this year about the ‘whore’s ghost’ on the Quay has been named as No 1 of the Top Ten tales from the regional media in this year’s Phoenix Magazine’s annual awards.  Mind you, The Phoenix refers to the list as its ‘Top Ten Bog Cuttings’ but we’re still impressed and the next time I go on a visit to Dublin, once I’ve stood with one leg in the gutter and gawped up in awe at the big, high buildings and eaten my ham blaas tied up in brown paper with string, I’m going to go to the offices of The Phoenix and tell their Honours that we are altogether delighted so we are.  I might also tell their Honours that, if they had have felt the cold hand of a dead whore on their inside leg, they wouldn’t have considered it a laughing matter!

More tales from ‘The Emergency’

A new book by the Kerry based writer, T Ryle Dwyer, entitled ‘Behind the Green Curtain – Ireland’s Phony Neutrality During World War II’ looks very promising indeed.

T Ryle Dwyer is a respected historian and author with many successful books already under his belt and, no doubt, this new offering is a scholarly and serious look at a very important time in the history of our State, but there is black humour there also.

In 1942, after the United States entered the war, the Americans sent a spy to Ireland to see what was happening on the ground. In a hired car loaded down with petrol coupons, cigarettes, silk stockings, lipsticks, sugar, tea and coffee, he set off around Ireland under the cover of trying to interest regional newspaper editors in a daily war bulletin from the US Embassy in London.

The spy’s name was Robert Rawley Patterson who had previously served eight years as a US vice consul in Cobh and it seems his adventure was fuelled by alcohol because, even though his mission only lasted three weeks, one of those weekends was spent drying out in a nursing home in Galway.

During his time in Kerry, he spoke to a Garda Superintendent who told him there was considerable German activity in the area, that parachutists had been seen on their way to Killarney and that Tralee was ‘a hot spot of Nazi activity. Even though Mr. Patterson’s alarmist reports were undoubtedly clouded by alcohol and must have been taken with a grain of salt by his superiors, the United States still responded by recruiting three agents to serve in Ireland

FAI and Footballers in court?

At this stage, most people are fed up reading and hearing about Thierry Henry’s infamous handball in ‘that’ football match but a Wexford based politician came up with a different tack last week.

Senator Lisa McDonald is a solicitor specialising in civil litigation cases who is also Fianna Fail’s Seanad spokesperson on Justice and Law Reform. She urged both the FAI and the players to issue writs against the sport’s governing body FIFA insisting that they had grounds on which to sue for damages such as loss of earnings, loss of endorsements and loss of sponsorships.

“In my opinion”, said Senator McDonald, “FIFA’s negligent conduct has caused actionable damage to the Irish football team and a lawsuit on behalf of the players and the FAI should be instigated immediately.”

A high profile economist, Alan McQuaid of Bloxams, agreed with the Senator and also advised the FAI and players to take their case to court and sue for potential loss of earnings.

A fox’s red-card tale

And closer to home and on a lesser level there was a soccer controversy from the recent FAI Cup Final in which Sporting Fingal defeated Sligo Rovers.

Everybody associated with the North Dublin club is incensed that the club’s mascot, Freddie the Fox, became the first mascot ever to be sent off in a cup final.  The mascot, wearing a life-sized fox’s outfit, has become a familiar figure throughout the country and he was patrolling the sideline as usual before being sent off by the referee for allegedly ‘causing confusion among the officials’.

Apparently, Freddie the Fox hasn’t always been played by the same person so there was mystery surrounding the identity of Cup Final Freddie and it wasn’t until the fox’s head came off that people realised it was local politician, Councillor Eoghan O’Brien.  Eoghan said if a ban was imposed, he would fight it to the bitter end.

Excited about marriage

James (86) and Margaret (75) had both been bereaved for over ten years when they met at a summer outing in Tramore. They got on like a house on fire immediately and friendship quickly blossomed into romance. Both families were pleased when they announced that they intended to marry in the Church of the Sacred Heart, The Folly, with a reception in Dooley’s Hotel followed by a honeymoon in Lanzarote.

Last week, James and Margaret visited Mulligan’s Pharmacy in Barronstrand Street where they asked to speak to ‘someone in charge’.

“We have a few questions to ask, if you don’t mind”, said James to the manager. “Do you sell heart medication?” “Yes, of course we do”, replied the manager. “How about medicine for circulation?” “All kinds”, said the manager. “ How about medicine for rheumatism, scoliosis, arthritis and jaundice?” “Sir”, said the manager, “you musn’t worry, we sell all kinds of medicines for all kinds of ailments.”

“Excuse me for asking but do you also sell Viagra”, enquired Margaret blushing ever so slightly. “We certainly do”, said the manager, nodding in James’ direction. “One last thing”, said James, “do you sell wheelchairs and walkers?” “Yep, all sizes and all speeds”, said the manager confidently.

James and Margaret looked at each other and nodded in agreement and James said to the manager: “You seem to have a good stock of everything so we’d like to register here, please, for our wedding gifts.”

Beauty in the eye of the beholder!

A man walked into Alfie Hale’s Bar on Ballybricken one night last week and ordered a double whiskey. Over the next hour, he ordered several more double-shots. The barman couldn’t help but notice that, every time the man finished a drink, he kept peering into the inside pocket of his jacket. In the end, the barman’s curiosity got the better of him and, as he served his customer yet another double whiskey, he asked him straight out why he kept looking into his jacket pocket.

“It’s like this, son”, said the man glumly, “I have a photograph of my wife in my pocket and, when she starts to look good, then it’s time to go home.”