25 November 2008

Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal







Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
First two photographs taken by C.Timoney May 2009

B+W photogaph from book '100 Years of Handball, Handball, Dongeal and the World', by Pat Holland, published by Voice Books in 2004

Following text from http://www.geocities.com/johngall_99/ballyshannon4050_1.html

The Handball Alley was one of the busiest sports arenas in the town, some of the people who frequented the Alley at that time were Jimmy Rogan, Francie “Titsie” Daly, Dutchie Darcy, Sylvester Maguire Snr., Johnnie Moore, Willie Daly, Dermott Lapsley, Tom, Packie and Francie Gallagher, Jody, Patsy, Eddie and Charlie Rooney, Jim and John Askin, Frankie and Jim Kerrigan, Maurice Murray, Dennis Patton, Mickey Gillen, Jim White, Dan and Benny Dorrian, John, Paddy and Cormac Mc Cready, Thomas Duffy, Jimmy Rooney, Jimmy Coyle, Michael Donagher, Michael White, John, Seamus and Patrick Coyle, Mickey Keenan, Michael Mc Govern, Michael Gallagher, Paddy and Kevin Begley, P.J. Coughlin, Paddy Donagher, Blackie Coyle, Paddy and Alo Hoey, Willie and John Mc Allister, Brendan Farrelly, Sean Mc Dermott, Roger and James Mc Ginley, Francis Smith, Danny, Jack and Jim Downey, Seamie Granaghan, Seamus Darcy, Fergal Gildea, Dennis Lawn. With the help of Francie Gallagher, those listed above are the names that come to mind. The older fellows always took control of the big alley while the younger lads used the side alley, during the summer’s the alley would be packed, it was always a pleasure to sit and watch a good game of handball. Someone who was known to all at that time blew a hole in the Alley in 1957, regardless of this person’s treachery the damage was repaired immediately.
The Handball alley was also a popular venue for Open Air Ceili’s on the odd Sunday evenings during the summers; Cyril Curran and his Assaroe Ceili Band usually provided the music, this was a very popular event for young and old.

Handball Alley Shadowmen, poem by Michael Herron

Ideal companions for comely,crossroads maidens
the Sunday handballers were dancelords
in billowing white shirts and best suit trousers,
watched by older heroes in peaked caps
from behind a knowledge cloud
of Sweet Afton and Woodbine.
Great parochial tournaments mythologising
ordinary men, even the occasional cornerboy,
Celtic gladiators in a concrete arena.
Hard earned appreciation of oldened players,
applauding quietly the clever use of angle and wall.
Hand in,hand out,hand in,hand out,
and savage laughter at a misjudged bounce,
an unanswerable butt greeted by a knowing wink.

How safe we were back then,
mere boys surrounded by a casual posse of Raleighs,
jumbled on the grassbank,
waiting our chance to shine in a Sunday game.
Sitting recently on the crumbling steps,
at the back of the alley,
I found another constant broken,
the front wall scarred by a lightning crack,
the drift of litter and leaves from corner to corner
the only movement now in this forgotten Ulster colosseum.


All the old players scattered,
leaving only handball alley shadowmen.


2 comments:

damien said...

I used to doss around in this with my brothers on the many summer holidays spent in Ballyshannon
There's a great feeling from these spaces and they are ideal for kicking a ball about

emma said...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/letscolourirl/sets/72157626607520786/detail/

ballyshannon handball alley is back in action