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Dunmore East is a small fishing village on
the south-east coast of Ireland, 16kms from
the city of Waterford.
It sits on the western side of the Waterford
Harbour Estuary, 4.8kms from Hook Head in
Dunmore East, Co. Waterford,
In the small fishing village of Dunmore where I grew up,
neighbour helped neighbour. Poverty was a shared
experience and there was no injustice in being poor. My
mother would often send me to our next door neighbour for
some milk for my fathers breakfast. I expected to be sent and
Nellie, our neighbour, expected to receive me.
"There ye go boy" she'd say, handing me the overfull milk jug,
"don't spill it". There was no shame in the asking, only pride in
the giving, for next time it would be Nellie's turn and my
mother would duly oblige.
It was a wonderful time of my young life, free from all the adult trappings of responsibility.
Going for milk became a secret mission, a journey often fraught with danger. I beheaded
countless stinging nettles on my way to Nellie's, chopping them into pieces with my trusty
sword, (a piece of a tree branch from the Cookaloo Wood). Stinging nettles could become
monsters depending on my imagination which in those years painted more vivid pictures
than reality could ever provide.
Christmas was a special time, but it never really felt like Christmas until Mrs. Burke finally
managed to decorate her Christmas window and present it to the village. Her shop contained
clothes, hardware, fishermen's boots and oil skins, and of course a small collection of pen
knives, sweets, and toys. In summer the window displayed beach balls, swimming tubes,
face masks, and flippers, but the tinsel surround of the Christmas display with its cowboy
hats and guns, toy trains, and Christmas stockings, left us all in no doubt that Santa was
I can still re-live that feeling of excitement as my little boy's face, red from the December
evening's frost, pressed itself against the cold window pane. If I close my eyes I can still hear
the hustle and bustle coming from the quay as the men salted and packed the herring catch.
I can still hear the noise of the Dutch luggers, and I can still smell that salt herring pickle
smell that will remain in my senses forever, a true testament to winter's evenings in Dunmore
Mrs Burke is sadly deceased and her shop is now a supermarket. The children of present
day Dunmore probably never heard of her window. Like the busy herring seasons the ragged
red nose children are all gone and I am left to write these stories in the knowledge that
without doubt I can go home but I can never go back.
From the short story writings of Mick D.
Mrs. Burke’s Window
The Short Story Writings of Mick D.