McDonalds seem to be practically everywhere – though not in Tramore …yet.
I guess there are some kids who think that there was never a time when Big Macs and McFlurries didn’t exist but there was and I was part of that time.
I think it’s probably fairly true to say that a love of chips or French fries has been around for thousands of years in some shape or form.
My introduction to chips came in the early 1960s when we moved to a small town, Castleblayney, in Co. Monghan. It is just three miles from the border with Northern Ireland and a world away from Tramore which is way down south.
Castleblayney had a chip shop called The Bambi and, even though, I was only about seven, I became part of the place and it became part of me.
I don’t understand why but Mother let me go across the road on my own for chips pretty much as often as I wanted and that grew into pretty much every night.
The people who owned The Bambi treated me like a human being, not a little kid who was new in town. Their chips were made from real potatoes that they chopped up in front of my very eyes and fired into the big shiny stainless steel deep fat fryer. The chips were shovelled into sort of greaseproof bags, salted and vinegared to taste and then wrapped in newspaper that steamed deliciously.
I became such a regular that I ended up hanging around inside the counter and before I knew it, I was shaking the big baskets of half cooked chips to help them on their way and then tossing them into the cabuche for the cooked chips.
As customers came in, I would hover around, listening to the chat, bagging up chips and wrapping them as best I could in big sheets of newspaper.
I was in heaven for that hour or so in the Bambi and, of course, I got to eat as many chips as I wanted.
I’d run home when I was full and this was just how things were for a year or two.
When Dad was transferred to Drogheda, I was devastated and one of the toughest goodbyes was to the gang in The Bambi. I thought I would see them all again, that was the only way I could cope, but I never did.
As it happened there was a Wimpy Bar across the road from us in Drogheda. The chips were good and I loved the little booths where you could sit and eat your fare with the jukebox available and well-used in the corner.
But nowhere was ever going to be like The Bambi. It was part of just one place and I’d give a lot to be able to linger there for another hour or so now. Health and Safety be damned!