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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,
It was a bright Spring Friday morning in Dunmore East. The sky was clear blue and the smell
of the sea was in the air. The sea was also blue, very blue, and dotted with white waves that
danced in the brisk morning wind. A Bell Lines coaster was hove to just off the breakwater,
waiting for high water and the pilot that would steer the ship up the ten-mile estuary to
It was the early seventies in Ireland and, although money was scarce, life was good.
Thump, thump, thump in the distance and a bright yellow dumper came around the corner,
down the hill past the thatched cottages and stopped outside the Fisherman's Hall. A tall
young gangly youth, with a few wisps of hair around his chin, got off and went into the hall,
leaving the engine running.
The Fisherman's Hall had been commissioned by one Nanny Malcomson in 1900, in memory,
apparently, of her son Joseph (Master Joe) Malcomson, who died in 1880 at the tender age
In a large pink three-storey house opposite, a window opened on the top floor, and a groggy
head appeared, half hidden by a ginger beard.
Louis looked out to sea at the coaster, as she lay there at anchor, and thought of Waterpark
College , the Christian Brothers college in Waterford he had attended. There had been a
huge map of the world in the downstairs hall of the main building, with little flags indicating
the position of all the Irish Shipping vessels around the world. This was before Irish Shipping
Louis' favourite memory of Waterpark College happened shortly before he was expelled,
about six weeks before he was due to sit his Leaving Certificate examination.
There was a rucus in one of the junior classrooms upstairs, and the lads in Louis' class
looked out of their window to see a chalky jesus flying past as it descended rapidly to the
ground, where it broke into pieces. That may have been the start of the demise of the
Christian Brothers in Waterpark College.
“Well Ringo, you fucker, how's it goin', said Louis, when the gangly youth came out of the
hall. “I see you have your transport with you”.
“Fuck off”, returned Ringo. “I went in to the hall for a piss. Jaysus, what did we get up to last
“As far as I can remember”, said Louis, “we drank some of Chiefy's Marquis de Ravencourt. I
think we were talking about Hatchet Mark”.
“Christ, not her”, said Ringo. Chiefy was Louis' dad, and was so named because he owned a
hotel in the village and was also known as “The Boss”, mainly by the staff who worked in the
hotel. “Chiefy” was a title accorded him by a particular village elder, presumably in reference
to the big chief of a north American Indian tribe.
Marquis de Ravencourt was not a French nobleman, but a cheap three-star brandy that
Chiefy had purchased from the most illustrious liquor smuggler in Dunmore, a man whose
name is still risky to mention in print for fear of repercussions.
It had come to the attention of Louis that this consignment of brandy was hidden in a small
underground room in a large greenhouse behind Chiefy's hotel, so a bottle occasionally went
Louis had been out of the village for a year and had returned the previous Saturday. His first
impression of Dunmore , as he had stood at the same bedroom window from which he now
cast his hangover-laced gaze at his friend Ringo, was that everybody in the village was
drunk. Everybody. The first person he had laid eyes on that previous Saturday afternoon was
his brother Simon, cruising past on a dilapidated BSA 250 motorbike. The throttle control on
the handlebar was broken, so Simon had the throttle cable wrapped around his right wrist,
which he pulled up and down to make the bike go faster or slower.
“Go on ya bollixs!”, he shouted, as he roared past the window. “Session in Power's Bar
Ringo mounted the dumper. In his mind's eye he saw the dumper as his chariot, his Ferrari,
his personal transport machine to move him around the village in style.
As he sat there, listening to the Kittiwakes screeching, he thought about the previous
morning. Himself and Louis had spent the evening before in a local hostelry and had then
gone on to Simon's place for an after-hours party, which was, of course, a regular
occurrence. They had staggered along Dock Road at daybreak, although staggering was not
correct, because they had by this stage drunk themselves sober. As they loitered around the
Bay Café, with the sun coming up and the Kittewakes screeching, they perceived a local
fisherman coming down the hill towards them, on his way to sea for a hard day's work.
The fisherman had of course already spied Ringo and Louis staggering around on the same
spot, and had taken the precaution of moving to the opposite side of the road as he passed,
so he would not be drawn into any serious conversation with these two drunken louts.
“Well”, said the fisherman. “Well”, responded Ringo and Louis.
To be continued…
Endless Days in Paradise