S: Claire's Memories
FC: Claire's Memories
1: Named after the nun attending her mother at the birth, her name was soon shortened to "Claire" for Bill, when questioned about the new baby's name answered "Herself had put such a long handle on the child that no one knew what the name was". | Margaret Sinclair Nyhan, daughter of William and Bridget Nyhan, made her arrival in the Cottage Hospital Kinsale Co. Cork, on May 24th, 1936. Now, had she been a boy, that would have caused some ripples of excitement because she was the fourth daughter. But Bill was content to welcome his little baby daughter in his quiet fatherly fashion.
2: Bill, my Dad, was just great. He was a carpenter by trade and his first contact was made with my Mam while doing a roof around his homeland Kinsale. He whistled at her when she passed by from his lofty position. Mam always affectionately called him "her old toolbox". He had jet black hair and a handsome Kinsale Spaniardy face. He was very quiet with a dry sense of humour, never cursed or swore, was a perfect gentleman. | Daddy - Bill Nyhan
3: He loved his pipe - he told us he had smoked clay pipes since he was nine and when Daddy had a 2oz piece of Clarke's Perfect Plug, he was utterly content. He loved his hat too - Mam said he'd go to bed with it on if he could. He was immensely proud of his daughters and guarded them jealously when they grew older in case any of the locals would "lead them astray".
4: Mammy was as gay as Daddy was quiet - a perfect contrast. She had style, she had vision, she had enormous pride in her house and all of us. She had a mighty temper when it suited her. She was about 5' 2" and I never remember her only with a beautiful head of white hair worn bob length and a massive wave to make it look chic. I discovered very early in life that you could have a lovely life in our house if you could manage to be completely obedient to Mam's wishes and thus I escaped many a quick "clout". Mother ruled the roost and got great results. | Mammy - Bridget Nyhan
5: Mammy kept a lovely house, clean and sparkling always, often done before we'd get up or after our early bedtimes when we were younger. She was a super cook too and ours was a very happy home. | As the years went on, we were more like pals than mother and daughter and she was the one that wherever I was, I had to turn my homeward steps to Gortnanoon just to see her, just to chat with her, just to rest a while in that haven Gortnanoon.
6: Gortnanoon | I remember well the day we got possession of Gortnanoon. I think it was the proudest moment of Daddy's entire life the evening about six o' clock that he handed Mammy the keys of Gortnanoon and we went off to see our first ever brand new house and what was to become our cherished family home. It was about 500 yards down the road from Leahy's Cross on a lovely quiet road. It had new doors, new windows, a lovely porch entrance to the big kitchen that proudly displayed a Stanley Range. There were two bedrooms for the girls, Mam and Dad's room, and we had a scullery too where now we could wash in private. Mammy had flowers to beat the band in the front garden, glistening windows with white starched curtains and a shining kitchen floor.
7: I set four trees in Gortnanoon and loads of primroses in front of the house - all colours - as they were easily collectible from Nicholoson's Woods. | Daddy tilled his half acre, we had hens and turkeys and a pig or two and we wanted for nothing.
8: Maura was so pretty, dark curly hair, dark brown eyes, lovely bone structure - she had everything. She was clever too - easy for her, us young ones grumbled - for once she started secondary school in the convent in Crosshaven, all her household chores were cancelled so that she could study and get a good job. | Maura Nyhan Gleeson | style
9: To her everlasting credit, Maura had us all bursting with pride the day Daddy got the Government stamped envelope addressed to Maura as Gaeilge telling her she had got the Civil Service. Such excitement in the house! Dublin to me that time was millions of miles away and Daddy said she'd get lost but Mammy organized everything to a tee and at the required time, Maura was sent to her first job dressed in a shower of hail tweed outfit. | glamour
10: Joan was our blonde with blue eyes and she fitted in well with the whole lot of us until in a moment of madness she fell in love at a very early age and married and settled in Monkstown. Joan's joy was in being pregnant and she ended up having twelve young Doyles. I think she is the one of us who always held onto that blinding love of her hubby Sean. | Joan Nyhan Doyle
11: Breeda had jet black curly hair, a round face, deep brown eyes, a hearty laugh and a heart of gold. She loved people, all people, especially sick people and if all around her were well, there was always a sick animal. Breeda was a born nurse, she became a wonderful SRN and added all the extra badges of the day - Maternity, Heart and TB to her belt, not out of brilliance but mostly because she loved her vocation and caring came very easy to her. Her sense of fun was tremendous and she knew no fear as Daddy would always save her. Mammy tried to tame her wayward spirit but Breeda escaped with most of it intact. | Breeda Nyhan O'Shaughnessy
12: Mammy went to Cork one day and gave each of us our jobs. Breeda's was to scrub the kitchen table and stools with a bit of Vim and a scrubbing brush. Breeda decided that day that she'd scrub "those stupid stools" no more. So she found cream paint and painted them. Imagine the scene when Mammy returned and found this out - well the paint was removed little by little and after ages the stools were back to Mammy's liking again and the scrubbing job continued. | laughter | fun
13: She knew what time we would be passing from school and Breeda would throw her sack down when she saw Mary and she'd plank herself down beside Mary and they'd talk and talk. Breeda would forget all time and would be absolutely murdered by Mammy when she'd finally appear. But she'd do the same again next time because she understood Mary's craving for company. | On our way home from school we had to pass Mary Dennehys. Mary, who lived alone and had rheumatoid arthristis, would painfully make her way out of her shining little house to sit outside the bank by the gate and chat to whoever passed the way. | heart
14: I was about 6 years old and Sinead 3 1/2 when the task of collecting the milk from Nicholosons's dairy was given to me by my busy little mother. Previously, we had been washed and dressed with matching clean pinafores donned to keep our jumpers clean and we were duly dispatched to fetch the milk. We arrived at the dairy by flying down the field in front of the house, crossing a wood by way of walking about six steps along the side of the cattle water tank and so a little onwards we reached the dairy. On our return journey, Sinead slipped on that dreaded edge of the tank and fell into the murky cattle water and was completely submerged. For a frozen moment, I watched her and in that split second knew I could rescue her but would have to destroy my beautiful pinafore and thus in my childish obedient mind would be murdered by Mammy for doing so. However I dropped the milk can, climbed into the tank and rescued my little half drowned sister. Mammy heard the wails as we approached and ran outside to see what happened. The look on her face when we told her was of stunned relief and she gathered us both into her arms. In no time, we were clean and shining and happy again and we weren't sent for the milk for ages after that. | Sinead Nyhan Battle
16: The Nyhan Sisters
19: I loved the Summertime when I was young. I used to work in a little shop in Fountainstown. I had lots of time for swims and I read for hours on the rocks under Mrs. Hacketts. The sound of the sea was always music to me.
20: I will never forget that crossing in the Ennisfallen. I stood by the ship rails and cried and cried with the sheer heartbreak and loneliness for home, for Ireland and for Gortnanoon. In the evenings I'd visit the nurses home and the sound of the Irish accents was like music to my ears. We went up London to Irish dance halls on Breeda's night off. The glamour was great as "nice" clothes were shared freely between nurses and I was a "nurse" in all things except name. I was after all Breeda's sister | London - Part I
21: Breeda once said to me "Claire I must take you to Picadilly Circus today". I was greatly disappointed as I was looking forward to the dance and the music and I hesitated for a little while and then said to Breeda "If you don't mind, I wouldn't like to go to a circus today, lets go to Hammersmith dancing". She looked foolishly at me for a minute and then it dawned on her I thought Picadilly circus was a circus and she roared out laughing much to the amusement of the other tube users. | I have fond memories of Breeda's courage and her ability to cope in those days. She never had any fear of people, never lacked confidence and knew her way about and was always laughing.
22: Dublin | It was early October when I got the magic letter re-addressed to me from home with my name in Irish and a harp stamped on it. I had been "called" to the Civil Service. Poor Mammy wrote separately to me at once saying that the decision to come or stay rested with me but I'd have great company in Dublin with Maura. | Breeda said, I well remember, "Well Claire I wish it was my choice - I know what I'd do - I'd be gone out John Bulls country tonight - I wouldn't even wait until tomorrow. This God foresaken place, what would keep you here" as she sat on her bed puffing away in her snow white uniform.
23: On the trip back was heavenly! I took the boat to Dun Laoighre this time and the joy in my heart to be returning was something special. I well remember seeing the Irish coast in the distance from the ship and feeling utterly at peace and united somehow to my wonderful Ireland.
24: My first date was at the Savoy in O'Connell St. I had met this Romeo in a dance over the weekend and he asked me would I like to go to the pictures on the following Tuesday night. To me he was lovely - tall, dark and a great dancer and a Garda. | Dates came thick and fast during the next few glorious years but whereas I liked the men, I had great plans to live and see a lot of the world before I would even contemplate any serious romance so it was on that basis that my love life was conducted. | I had discarded my glasses to look glamorous and I had to bring Maura down with me in the bus because I couldn't pick him out at the Savoy from the long line of fellows awaiting their "dates". There was no way I'd put him off by appearing the dreaded specs and to be truthful I was blind without them. He said afterwards he nearly died when he saw the two of us arrive but recovered quickly when Maura made the excuse that she was afraid I didn't know Dublin and didn't want me to get lost. Such diplomacy! | Romance
26: She was a Garda Seargent's daughter and so she and I were at all the Garda Dress Dances for a few seasons. | Friends | I really believe that meeting again a girl who was in Skerry's College with me in the Mansion House at a Mick Delahunty dance quite soon after my arrival in Dublin was a stroke of special good luck. | She was Breeda Kilcooley, a wonderful girl, and we struck up a marvelous friendship that was destined to last to the present day. Breeda was like my twin - mad for dances - and she had a heart of gold. She'd half her heart with you if you wanted it.
27: For my first dress dance, I managed to transform my image. I paid a small fortune for an up to date hairstyle in the House of Knox in Parnell Place and borrowed a lovely full length white gown from one of my office colleagues and as I was quite tall and slim, I felt that night that I emerged from my frump cocoon and was really quite attractive. I was a great dancer too and loved to laugh and chat a lot so Breeda and myself had a great time with all our dates. | dancing
28: London - Part II | It was an older wiser Claire that hit London in May '67 and I truly fell on my feet again. Now I had my treasured car "Annabelle", a good job, a super boss in Mr. Foster and instant new friends working in the Embassy. There was a sense of freedom about London that I loved and I had an instant family unit in Breeda, Michael and Ciaran. Those were great times. Michael loved cars - the bigger the better - and when he got "the jag", well there was no stopping us. The most important job was booking the cars home on the boat as many times as we could squeeze in in the year. Oh the joy of heading towards the motorway and then driving through Wales for the ferry! We'd land in Rosslare and I'd be happy again - loving the wild ditches and winding roads and the fields and the cows and HOME.
29: The social scene in London was totally different to Dublin or Ireland in that decade. I had two social lives really - the Embassy receptions were formal and highly enjoyable with plenty of good food and drink with well educated, well heeled guests, mostly foreign officials and diplomats. With the Irish girls I did the dancehall scene but apart from the night out I was just happy not to make any lasting friendships. Basically I felt I was past it. HOWEVER...
30: I met a lovely handsome young Irishman on January 6th 1968 at a dance in Fulham. It was the year of the Foot and Mouth outbreak and Irish people were advised not to travel home that Christmas for fear of spreading it. Lettie, who was the Embassador's secretary, decided that she would have a party in her flat in order to get rid of the enormous amount of drink she had been given as Christmas gifts from the Embassy. The plan was to go to the Irish dance where we'd likely meet some Irish lads we knew and bring them back for the party. The plan worked a treat - that was the night I met Liam. | Liam Daly
31: For me, from the start, Liam was different. I had at last met someone who loved Ireland as I did, we had the same Irishness, the same principles, the same moral outlook and he was a gentleman with a keen brain. | Claire: "Do you know me?" Liam: "No" Claire: "Well you should!" | He is my Liam, your Dad or Grandad, your special son Granny, your reliable brother, a wonderful man to know and love, as all who know him will agree.
32: Wedding Day June 10th, 1971 Crosshaven, Co. Cork
36: Ballingarry, Co. Limerick | Crosshaven, Co. Cork
37: 60, Great William O'Brien St, Blackpool Murphys, Guinness, Heineken, Vodka & White, Bass, Paddy, Gin Bilser, Frankie, Val, Timmy, Mrs. Noonan, Jerry Walsh, Eleanor, Mrs. Butler, Tricia & Paul, Tony & Una, Mickey Dwyer Football, Pigeons, Fishing, Rins, Darts, Choir 60, Great William O'Brien St, Blackpool Murphys, Guinness, Heineken, Vodka & White,, Bass, Paddy, Gin, Beamish, Powers Bilser, Frankie, Val, Timmy, Mrs. Noonan, Jerry Walsh, Eleanor, Mrs. Butler, Tricia & Paul, Tony & Una, Mickey Dwyer, Andy Soccer, Pigeons, Fishing, Rings, Darts, Choir | Liam Daly's Bar
38: My best blessings were my amazing children - Barry, Mairead, Brendan and Ronan. Wonderful, wonderful children, now grown up. They were truly the miracle that made up my life of love, happiness and like everyone else some sorrow. | Children
45: smile | Memories
46: Gurteen, Ballingarry | home
47: ...where the heart is
50: family | fun
51: How I loved being from Cork! To my mind, we Corkonians had everything - the best hurlers, a distinctive accent, plenty of brains and a joie de vivre that to me seemed unrivalled. | Rebel
52: Weddings | Barry and Rhonda July 25, 1998 | I do
53: Brendan and Jill, December 18, 2003
55: Mairead & Doug September 11, 2009 Tiburon, California
56: Grandchildren | Ciara Daly Born March 16th, 2004
58: Conor Daly Born August 16th, 2005
62: Tadhg Daly Born Sept 4th, 2006
64: Maeve Daly Born April 22nd, 2009
69: I left my heart in San Francisco