Stories from the Waterside

Presently I am cocooning, and well into my 70s. I have lovely memories of the Brusna River, on the Caltra Road, close to my home, in Ballina. In my childhood days, mid 1950s as children, we spent our summers playing in the River. Soon after our breakfast, we would go off with our nice clean empty jam jars to try and catch sprats. The river was quite shallow from Bunree bridge as far over as the downhill hotel. Our patch for catching sprats was mid-way. It was a lovely part of the river and it was safe. To the right-hand side of our patch, l was the boys swimming pool. That was very deep and only the boys swam there. Further on to the left, and beyond and downhill was the girls swimming pool. It was smallish, and not very deep with concrete base and sand. We spend our summer holidays there daily, trying to swim. Though sadly, I never succeeded in mastering the art. During those years, Clery’s in Dublin used to advertise sales in the Irish newspaper. I saw ladies’ togs advertised for six and six. I told Mary my pal next door and we both got our mothers to send away for the togs for each of us, and they did. And we received the togs. They were beautiful, one pink and one blue. We were in our elements. Every day was a must for a bathe in the river. Every day seemed like heaven. We made the most of it. The sun seemed to shine all that summer. They year to the local Urban Council in Ballina decided to revamp the boys swimming pool, and they made a fantastic job of the pool. Later, they held a swimming gala in the pool and people came from as far away as Dublin and Galway to participate. It was unique and marvellous, all on our Brusna River. Roll on years, pollution entered our vocabulary, and both swimming pools were no more. The Brusna River is totally changed now. I would have preferred it in my childhood days. I cherish those memories. Gone are the days. Breege Donnelly Newcombe.