Eileen Goulding reminisces on 20
years as a ‘Munster’ correspondent
In her home, a short stroll from the Grotto on the Cork Road, the octogenarian’s vigour belies her years, reflecting on a half century of living in this neighbourhood, and on 20 years in which her home was one of this newspaper’s suburban outposts.
“The Cork Road Residents’ Association – that was formed first, and then the houses were built in Kingsmeadow – you wouldn’t remember that, you’re too young – but when they were built and occupied, the residents there united with the Cork Road Residents and formed the Cork Road and Kingsmeadow Residents’ Association – that would have been 1971,” Eileen began as she poured me a cuppa.
“I’d young children at the time, and I just happened to go to a meeting (the Association held) and the minute I was at it, I felt what they needed then was publicity, and that’s where I felt the area needed The Munster Express, so I made an appointment to go down to The Quay and meet Mr (JJ) Walsh himself, spoke to JJ and he agreed to give me a column but on the condition that I write it only for The Munster, which I promised – it was to limited to 500 words – but I didn’t keep to that promise! I typed all my copy up, and Mr Walsh insisted that it went to print just as I had written them, which always pleased me!
“And over time, it gradually got bigger and bigger and it eventually took up two columns. And I must say I felt the publicity that they got really united the two areas. The Residents Associations’ coming together led to the establishment of the local Youth Club, then the Grotto Athletic Club started up, and the Youth Group got a room off the Good Shepherd to use…it was a very active time around here.”
Eileen’s column first ran in 1971, and she provided 20 years of unbroken service to this newspaper, corresponding (pun intended) with her own spell as Residents’ Association Secretary, two briefs that kept her very busy.
“Over the years, a lot of people that I knew in Kingsmeadow and the Cork Road, people who’d have been involved in the committee, have died, – that’s the passage of time, something none of us can do anything about – but when I’d be going up to sympathise, some people would assume I’d be just looking for news for the column, and it got to the stage where I felt people had that impression so much of the time that I felt it was time to step back from the column.”
Eileen, married to Leo (and parents of John, Helen, Laura, Paul and Frank), continued: “But I felt it served its purpose. It generated a nice bit of publicity for the area; a generation of young people grew up in the time I was writing it; 20 years is a long time to stick at any one thing and I enjoyed it enormously. I wasn’t a journalist as such; I never really saw myself in those terms.
“What I mean is, if I was at a dinner dance and happened to end up writing a few paragraphs about it in the column, I’d have paid for my ticket to go – but I will say this: the Roanmore (GAA) Club was very good to me – they were the only ones who recognised what I was doing, and I used to get a ticket off them every year. It wasn’t a job with a lot of perks, not by any means, but that wasn’t something I’d ever have gone looking for either. I wanted to help promote the Cork Road area; I got lots of titbits from neighbours and residents over the years and, as I said, it served its purpose.”
During a recent drive, Eileen got a “lovely surprise” when WLRfm made reference to her ‘Old Bog Road’ column. “I got so excited – to think that someone remembered it after all those years.”
The column’s title might come as a mystery to younger readers; but it was easily explained by the correspondent herself.
“I can remember when where we’re sitting now, and when everything across the road (Woodie’s) – right from the Yellow House and down to Kelly’s Shop – that was all reeds and rushes. An awful lot of our children would have played down on the bogs – they’d have gone swimming, fishing between the reeds – there were all these little spots that they knew. It really was a wonderful place to grow up in…but it was when people started dumping cars down there, things changed a bit alright.”
Recalling some of the events which defined the Cork Road neighbourhood (i.e. between the Grotto and Hennessy’s Road in effect), Eileen recalled a rent strike which lasted for several months, a campaign which ultimately led to the establishment of a flat rental rate.
“We all went on strike, every street – Clarke Road, McDermott Road – someone from every road got involved and we all came together; the residents were united, a wonderful group of people. We stuck together and it worked for us. The Corporation had to listen to us in the end; at times things got very exciting out here!”
Writing has been a passion of Eileen’s since the age of seven. “I always wrote; writing never felt like a struggle for me, so I suppose that helped me a great deal when it came to putting the column together, and that was part of the reason why it never felt like a chore for me.
“I remember, from my school days, that my copybook used to go up to the (Mercy) nun full of scribbles because I’d be writing poems on the back of the page, and I’d send up the copy. And while their copies would go up perfect, I’d still end up getting better marks – and they couldn’t understand that! But I’ve always loved writing.
“When I was 14 or so, my mother said to me that I should be careful of boys, that I should stay away from them, so I used to spend whole summers, stuck in room, writing love stories, imagining what it was like!…
“And I just loved putting the column together. It wasn’t just about births, deaths and marriages. You had to talk to people, you had to be funny, be active and enthusiastic with them, and none of that ever came too hard for me. It was a great time. It really was.”
‘The Passing Band’
A band passed down our street today
And I laughed with joy to hear it play
My heart sang with each strumming beat
As neat navy uniforms marched down the street
I watched as they smartly turned the corner
Led by a strumping big band leader
Then I cheered and waved as they marched away
And wished them back again some day
For they brought back memories of days long gone
When we’d follow a band to the end of the sun
When limbs were nimble and feet were fleet
And we’d march with the band down every street
Yes! A band passed down our street today
How I laughed with joy to hear it play
But I cried too for the old and feeble
Some not even able to see or stand at the window and weave like me
Then I thanked God for hearing and sight
For making me, for giving me life
And I’ll follow his band with heart and feet
Till it turns the band of eternity street. (Eileen Goudling, 1978)