Christmas 1973. I was 11 years old, and my mother had given me the final deposit on the new bike. An order had been placed by my parents earlier in the year with Paddy O'Malley, who ran the bicycle shop in Josie Bourke's garage on Ellison St.
I could hardly contain my excitement as I walked up Main St to collect it, our first 'big' bike! I was under strict instructions from my mother to wheel it home, so as not to mark or damage it, as it was taking pride of place beside the Christmas tree. Into the shop, which was full of gleaming new bicycles, Triumph 20s and Choppers the popular ones that year, and our blue Raleigh. Final deposit paid, and sufficiently instructed by Paddy on the care and maintenance of the bike, I wheeled it out the door and down the street towards home. As I crossed the top of Castle St I just couldn't resist. So, onto the bike I got, and flew down Castle St, up and around to the Mall, which was our 'Mondello Park'. Wheeling the bike home afterwards, I stopped into Delia's shop on Lucan St. I was of course, along with countless other children around the town, very fond of her, and wanted to show her the bike.
A week after Christmas I was back in the shop buying the usual few pennies worth. Delia asked me about the bike, and whether I had a carrier on it. Nilands Cash n Carry had just moved from their base on Thomas St to a new premises in the industrial estate at Moneen. Thus started my first paid job!
Every Thursday, I'd call into Delia on the way home from school. She'd have a list ready for me and, list and cash in hand, I'd hit for Nilands. At particular times of the year, I might have to make a second trip during the week. How I never came off the bike as I flew down the hill from the Bacon Factory towards Lucan St I'll never know! Boxes of Klipsos, Macaroon bars and cigarettes all piled high on the carrier and the handlebars! And my payment, a treat in Delia's kitchen, 50p and my choice of sweets ( chocolate snowballs were the favourite).
As time went on, my 'wages' increased, and when I was 15 Delia was instrumental in getting me a holiday job in Nilands. Life went on, I left Castlebar to pursue a career in the Gardai. I'm not sure who replaced me, but I'm sure that person, like me, learned a lot about honesty, loyalty and respect from Delia.
In one of lifes sad coincidences, the town lost two of its old generation in the first days of January this year, Delia and our dear Dad, Paddy Jordan. On the first Sunday in January, I found myself walking with my son and two of my sisters up to Delia's house in Lucan St, to pay our respects to her family. That same day, we had attended the funeral mass of our Dad. Speaking with Delia's three daughters and son, we all shared tears for two lives well lived, and also happy memories of youth and times past.
( Dedicated to Delia Garvey and Paddy Jordan )