The Avondhu - By The Fireside
SUCCESSFUL DRAPERY BUSINESS IN BALLYLANDERS
Timothy’s disdain for British rule began at a young age, when, in the mid-1860s, while still a teenager, he joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In 1867, he fought in the Fenian Rising, taking part in the botched storming of the constabulary barracks in Kilmallock. While he managed to evade arrest by the authorities, his distant cousin, Peter O’Neill Crowley, was not so lucky, being shot dead by the forces of the Crown in Kilclooney Wood. Timothy would always hold his memory close to him, going on to name one of his sons in his honour. Another of his cousins, Patrick Crowley, was arrested at Bruff, though he was later released.
Following the failed Fenian rising, Timothy stayed very much involved with the republican movement, holding the position of secretary of the I.R.B. in the Hospital district up until the early 1880s, at which point he moved to Ballylanders with his sisters Kathleen, Johanna and Delia. They were employed in Margaret Fogarty’s drapery, with the Crowley sisters working as dressmakers up until their marriages or, in the case of Delia, her immigration to the United States, where she would refuse to speak to anyone with an English accent due to her family’s hatred of their oppressors.
The front door of 449 North Circular Road, Dublin 7 was always left ajar. The occupants had keys to various flats inside. Downstairs were 3 medical students attending the Mater Hospital across the road. The basement flat was a ‘state of the art’ one having its own sitting room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and private phone. It was occupied by a girl called Marie, manageress of a haulage firm whom we only knew on passing in the hallway.
We were upstairs. The basement
As the years went by, Timothy earned enough money to buy Fogarty’s drapery, which he did in 1884 with the help of his Fenian cousin Patrick Crowley, though he would buy him out of the business not long after.
Beyond working as a draper, Timothy also became the village postmaster, and was on the committee to install a telegraph in Ballylanders during the 1890s. He also owned a professional camera and the equipment required to develop photographs, which he used for both personal and professional purposes. An early advocate of the Gaelic Athletic Association, he served as the treasurer of the Ballylanders Shamrocks Football flat was out of my reach as we teachers didn’t earn very much starting out. Besides, I was a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’ and spent all my money on minis, bellbottoms and hot pants!
Our flat consisted of a sitting room cum kitchen with a fireplace which we lit on nights not going out. We shared a bathroom with 2 nurses also living upstairs. Our bedroom was adjacent with 3 single beds. Electricity was on a 2-shilling meter and there was a scramble to find the coin if the lights went out!
The flats were carpeted, having been recently refurbished. On the hallway was a phone which was locked which meant
In 1887, Timothy married Ellen Ryan of nearby Killeen, a farmer’s daughter, and sixteen years his junior. Together, they had nine children: James Joseph (who died young), Tadhg, John, Patrick, Joseph, James, Michael, Peter and Bridie. The family were upwardly mobile, and by the turn of the 20th century were living a life that a young Timothy Crowley could never have imagined. Crowley’s Drapery, which he had built up since he took it over, consisted, by that point, of nine rooms, and had fourteen windows at its front – it was the most substantial shop and dwelling in Ballylanders. By this point, Timothy had become one of the wealthiest men in the area, which enabled him to send his older sons to board at Rockwell we could only receive incoming calls. However, the same friendly students figured a way to make outgoing calls by tapping the phone and kindly showed us how to do so!
One evening I heard an unusual sound of music coming from below. It wasn’t the same sound as that coming from the music unit my sister had splashed out a month’s salary on. This was different! I went down to investigate and when Marie answered the door, to my amazement there were 4 or 5 fellows sprawled around, one with a guitar. “We’re Buckshot” one of them piped up. “We play in the National, Olympia and Crystal”. We had ceased to
Timothy refused to give an answer, however, upon consulting Eoin MacNeill on the matter, he and the rest of his family ceased their activities, on the surface at least. The following year, Timothy was badly injured in a baton charge by police outside of Galbally barracks, where his son Tadhg was being held, with him having to be tended to by his daughter Bridie afterwards.
By 1920, the War of Independence was raging at full force and the Crowleys found themselves in the middle of it. Timothy gained the attention of the R.I.C. after allowing his drapery to be used in the attack on Ballylanders R.I.C. barracks in April 1920 – having being asked by one of his sons for permission to use it, he naturally did not object, only saying, “no matter what you do, don’t forget to say your prayers.” frequent these ballrooms because of distance and cost of taxis home.
Instead, we frequented the local club called The Countdown where the resident group were Thin Lizzy fronted by none other than Phil Lynott.
The club was situated in the heart of O’Connell Street with a side entrance which led up an old wooden stairs. At the top one was greeted by a fog of smoke. ‘Phillo’ as Phil was fondly called, with dark skin, drooping eyes and Afro hairstyle was playing and singing his heart out! He recorded such hits as ‘Boys are Back in Town’, ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’, etc before his untimely death.
I never remember paying
‘DON’T FORGET TO SAY YOUR PRAYERS’
entry to the club as we always got passes on leaving for different nights which we swopped with friends for whatever night we wanted.
You may recall Phil’s mother, Phyllis, penning her book ‘My Boy’, appearing on the Late Late Show and unveiling a plaque in his honour in Dublin. She too has passed on. Rest in peace!
Phil’s songs are huge hits now and are played regularly on the airwaves. I left the capital for Limerick in 1970 and from what I heard, Buckshot continued to play the circuit. It was the era of the showbands!!