Pat Corbett’s memories of Christmas from the early 50’s  

Quin -The Town I loved so much 

Main Street, Quin, 1960. Corbett’s shop is on the right below Power’s pub

Back in time (approx. 60 odd years ago ) I was able to help out in the shop filling paper  bags and waxed cartons – we had to fill everything manually as everything came to us in timber boxes or in canvas bags (there was no such thing as getting things pre-packed). Sugar came in 8st bags, as did flour (1cwt bags); tea came in wooden boxes known as a tea-chests and fruit in 4st boxes. When I say fruit, of course I am thinking of raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed peel, all of which went into the making of the Christmas cake and plum pudding. We all helped to fill the bags and my Dad would weigh it out and fold and tie it with a string.

We got Christmas candles in red and white which were 2ft long. These were lit in the windows of every house over the Christmas season. Mother (Fanny) and Dad (Patrick), my older sisters and I would all be helping after tea (supper) till bed time, which might be 10:30 or even 11 o’clock. Yes, it was a very busy time for a few weeks beforehand. It was a normal thing for all householders to stock up, so that families would have full and plenty at home to get over this period.
It was also the custom at our shop to give out presents to our customers. That varied from boxes of chocolates, Gateaux Christmas cake, sometimes even hampers (depending on the circumstances) and even in some cases toys for children (to help with Santa).  It was a busy time from morning till late night for everyone, but it was different times back then. Families didn’t have a lot of money but Christmas was still an exciting time for everyone. Oh how the whole world has changed!

When Frank Gordon (our school master) was launching Quin Tidy Towns, funds were in need. He started up a group of carollers and we all set off ( 5 or 6 carloads of singers) to villages like Scarriff , Sixmilebridge, Newmarket, Shannon and many others – too many to go down on  the list. We were singing carols up and down the streets, knocking on doors and going into pubs a few nights a week for about three or fourweeks before Christmas. We raised heaps of money every night, as the choir was brilliant and we all loved it. Three or four weeks before Christmas there was a huge tree always erected in front of the hall with many helpers. It was illuminated every night and was another highlight of Christmas.

Of course it didn’t stop there, as we also went out on St. Stephen’s Day in the Wren boys to do the villages. We did what pubs we could get to before closing time.  (Oh what fun – boys and girls singing and dancing, men and woman playing the music. What craic and sport that was!)

Needless to add Quin Hall was in full swing with dances every week. I have to mention that we were so lucky to have managers of the hall back then like Bobby Clune, Tom O’ Halloran, Shamus Reddan and others. They brought very good bands each week and the place used to be packed. I must add we did not have any dances during LENT (it was not allowed as it was a SIN  back in those days) but I also have to say that didn’t stop some of us. We went to Gort, The Jetland, Ennis and Sixmilebridge. We were dance-mad back then.

Good memories all!

Pat Corbett.

Perth, Australia.

December 2022

Con O’ Sullivan (boy), Michael Reynolds, Pat Corbett, Dan (Cider) Clune, Mrs. O’ Brien, Paddy (the Yank) Clune, Michael Corbett (Kildrum) and John Guerin.