Echoes from a Handball Alley

There’s a splendid handball alley in the quaint village of Stradbally here in Co. Waterford and I often stop there on summer evenings and think.

Handball 1

Handball is one of the Gaelic Games in Ireland, alongside Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie. It is a game of amazing speed and skill, with a long history. One of its greatest fascinations for me lies in its rawness ~ hitting a ball against a wall with the hand or fist.

My father, who grew up in West Clare in the 1920s and 30s, played lots of handball in the alley in Kilrush. It was a real gathering place in the Summer and the gang took turns to play. There was a grassy spot above the alley where spectators congregated.

Entrance to the Alley and Steps to Viewing Place
Entrance to the Alley and Steps to Viewing Place

Playing handball late into a Summer’s evening and lazing about on the dewy grass afterwards was a life-changer for Dad when he was fourteen. He ended up getting pneumonia at a time before antibiotics and almost lost his life.

Stradbally Handball Alley
Stradbally Handball Alley

Not surprisingly, this experience made him very wary of sitting on damp grass or the like ~ something that was drilled into us as kids.

As I sat on the dryish grass above the alley in Stradbally recently, I couldn’t but giggle as I remembered an evening when I was about fourteen and had gone out in a newly washed pair of jeans. Dad got it into his head that they MUST be damp and spent hours driving around looking for me to take me home immediately.

I got in ahead of him and  just about lived to tell the tale!

For all who come my grave to see, avoid damp beds and think of me.’






Flashes of Ireland in Summer

I was out and about yesterday here in Co. Waterford and these are a few of the sights that compelled me to pause and and ponder …..


I often wonder what catches other people’s eyes as they travel along either these roads or the ones near their home places, wherever in the world they may be.