The Cot Hole

There are many holes or pools on the river Feale in county Kerry but one in particular
stands out. It is called the Cot Hole or Poll na Coite in Irish. It is a rather deep section, about
twenty feet, between the Kilmorna road and Duagh village near where the Callaghans now
It got its name from the use of a small boat or cot which was used to ferry people
across from the Kilmorna side. There was no bridge across the river Feale long go. You had
to go as far as Listowel or Abbeyfeale and take the road around to get to Duagh. This shortcut
meant people could cross there and then walk through the fields on up to the graveyard and
head up the road from there to the village, to mass or the shops.
A little boat/coracle was used to cross in olden times. It was pulled by hand from side
to side by rope as it had no oars, the ropes spanned across the river. In more recent time a
man called Batteen’ the boatman’ charged a small fee to oar people across it in a small
Bartholomew Brosnan was his full name. He used to visit my grandfather. When my
grandfather would fill his pipe Batteen would take it from him and puff away for a while
before handing it back. He had six children who all moved abroad. My father went to school
with one of the daughters. One day the teacher asked her what she would do if a bull chased
her. She said she would throw herself on a pile of stones and be unconscious. Not the best
tact to escape a bull!
The young men when they were going to a dance in Duagh on summer evenings
would go for a swim at the cot hole.
The children of the area used to play on inflated tubes of tyres on the water. There
was a young lad once, called Vincent Nolan, a boy from the Glin Orphanage, who was
working for a local farmer, drifted off down the river. The other children ran along the bank
calling to him, unable to reach him but he managed to get ashore. It was only them that the
shock hit him.
One Sunday a good many years ago, the little boy of the Browns was playing near the
water with his friends. He decided to leave them and headed home for supper. He met his
mother and his sisters going back down to the river so he turned and went back with them.
As they were playing on the bank he slipped and fell into the deep part. They called and
shouted to him but couldn’t get to him as they didn’t know how to swim. He bobbed above
the surface calling to be saved. But it was late in the evening all the good swimmers had gone
home. He drowned. The local priest tried to retrieve the body but couldn’t get down deep to it.
A local fisherman with a line and hook was able to finally get the body back up.
Eventually a bridge was built across the river further along near McCarthys. First
there was a timber bridge. But it wasn’t very safe. The planks were rotten in places. An aunt
of the Doody’s fell in and drown from it. That evening, the gate into their yard opened by
itself as if her ghost was going home.
A cement bridge was built finally by a Keane man from Garryard around 1936. That
was the end use of the cot hole. Batteen took up the job of postman in later life.