MY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF BULLOCK HARBOUR

Susan Homan nee Atkinson

My Grandfather was John Newman Atkinson who was born in Queenstown Co Cork in 1843. He came to live at Bullock in 2, Castle Terrace, Ulverton Road and it was there my father Richard (Dick) was born. My grandfather was a famous boat builder and he had his boat yard at that time at the back of Castle Terrace . Later on he had Castle View built and moved his building business there. He had two large sheds built, also an engine shed in which all his large saws etc, were kept. When he died in l922 my father continued on the business.

 

There were seven children in our family and I was the third youngest, I had five brothers and one sister. I grew up in the atmosphere of boats being built, repaired and launched. I remember when I was about seven the Rosslare Life Boat coming up for repair and been intrigued by the interior of this boat. Especially the fact that there was lots of chocolate on board and that the milk which was used for the tea and cocoa was condensed and that the top of the tin had two holes in it and these were plugged with two small pieces of wood when not in use.

 

Bullock then was uncluttered. Not many boats in the harbour and the pier was clear leaving lots of room for us children to play . Where Western Marine is now there was an old coal yard, which was run by Messrs Kelly Downey and Co., and where the pumping station is now there were two houses, the Tallants lived in one of these houses and the Stapletons in the other. The Stapletons always kept a light on during the night. On All Saints night they would make lots of noise with bin lids to keep the spirits away. They always seemed to have a wicked dog which was let loose in the evenings. So if one of us children wanted to go out in the evening one of our parents would have to see us safely past the lane. In the next two houses lived the Morgans, and the Horners families. Then came the ten cottages and I still remember all the nice people who lived in them; no.1 Delaneys no.2 Lawlesses, no.3 Miss Purcell ( as children we were always afraid of her ) no.4 Mrs Dwyer, no.5 Murphys no.6 Graves no.7 Graydons no.8 the Smiths no.9 Kavanaghs and no.10 the Smiths who were English and came to live there after the Keelings.

 

There were of course the fishermen , Paddy Smith, George Williams, Jem Smith (Shiner) old Billy Smith and of course Pa Bradley. On Thursday evening and I can still see my father along with the fishermen and other locals sitting on the slanted rock (which is behind the bathing hut). Their hats shading their eyes watching the racing.

Our Lady Manor was not built then to tower over Bullock and block the lovely view of the harbour and the rocks, seen from the Tram stop at the top of the steps. Bullock Castle was owned then by Johnny Maguire who lived there with his wife and two daughters. Mr and Mrs Maguire loved to swim and most days could been seen walking around the harbour to go swimming off the Point

 

I have no recollections of cold or wet summers during my childhood, only long hot days when we seemed to spend most of our time in the sea. On summer evenings we would fish off the pier for crabs, stingoes, and horny gobblers. The horny gobblers had sharp spikes near their gills and when the boys caught these fish they would put small pieces of cork on the spikes and then put the fish back into the sea . Of course the poor fish could not get under the water to swim away, they just floated on the surface.

 

I remember the beautiful sunsets, the spring tides when one could sit on the pier and paddle ones feet in the water. I also remember when the boys from Castle Park School or the girls from Glengara Park School came down to swim at the Point, the local children were not allowed to swim there, this of course annoyed us very much and we would sit on the Pier and mimic their rather grand accents, and be rather rude I am afraid.

 

We had the Rocks to play on and were as sure footed as goats. There was a special rock on which we could slide. (and the slide is still there to-day ) we had names for some of the rocks, there was the Private Rock, so called because it was Pilot View's property, the Top Rock because it was the highest, there was an inlet called the Basin because of its shape, and the Dead Mans Hole so called because at some stage a man had been found drowned there. We would spy on the courting couples and get chased by them.

 

At that time the Quarry had not been built on and we were able to play there, we fished for pinkeens in the Pond, and were warned to be very careful not to fall in, if we fell in and were drowned we were told that our bodies would never be recovered as the pond was bottomless. My brothers Christopher and Billy , some of their friends and their dogs would go hunting in the Quarry for rabbits, I do not remember them ever catching any, it was always "we nearly caught a rabbit. In Winter the hoops and spinning tops came out, also the bird traps to trap birds in after some of the bad Storms . We would sit on the curved wall at the Slip and swap stories, or someone would tell a Film , this entailed telling a recent Film on had seen in their own words. At one stage some of the boys took to knitting and it was funny to see them sitting on the winch knitting away.

 

When I was about eleven Dalkey Swimming Club was formed and some of us took up competitive Swimming and we had a great coach in Tom Ross. When I was ten my father's business folded and we had to leave Castle View, luckily we only moved to the other side of the Harbour to Rosetta, but I still remember when walking around the Harbour wishing that there was a bridge across the mouth of the Harbour so I wouldn't have to walk so far.

When my father got old he spent a lot of time looking over the wall at the Harbour keeping an eye on things, and he used to say to us "Bullock has gone to the Dogs, it's enough to make my father turn in grave, he is dead now and I often wonder what his remarks would be if he came back now.

 

I suppose looking back I see things through rose coloured glasses, but I don't seem to remember then anyone painting on the rocks, burning rubbish, or dumping rotten fish.

Bullock is such a lovely place one would wish that it should be appreciated by all, and more effort should be made to keep things SHIP SHAPE.