It’s jokingly referred to as ‘The Departure Lounge’ as 16 of its regular visitors passed away over the years but there are still over a dozen men who frequent renamed Cathryn’s Corner in the Square – and have done for 22 years. Just recently 12 of those men turned out to speak to InTallaght about the two decades spent in the centre, chatting and laughing while their wives do the shopping and explain why they continue to do so every single week.
There are stories in this corner like you wouldn’t believe, from those of childhood friendships – two of the men sat beside each other at school – to tales of loss, some who had lost wives and children or even grandchildren, but it’s clear from the outset that not only are these men friends – they are each others support group too.
Paddy Byrne, the ‘chairman’ from Perrystown said: “We’ve been coming here since day one. You will usually see people gathered here most mornings but Tuesdays and Thursdays are the most popular days.“We just sit here while those of us whose wives are still thankfully here do the shopping and we talk about everything from women and football to politics, the social welfare and our entitlements as well as the old days. Over the years we have found connections to each other we never knew existed whether it was through family or old friends.
“We joke about it being The Departure Lounge because many of our good friends have passed on but we keep their memories alive right here every week.”
Willie Murphy from St Aengus Parish worked in both Urney’s, for 28 years, and the County Council, for 21 years. A pioneer he comes to The Square every week. A well-known member of the Glenasmole Amateur Dramatics he has played the likes of The Bull McCabe’s son in The Field and Jockser in Juno and The Peacock.
“I’ve been here from the start,” he said “and I’ll be here until the end.”
Bancroft’s Aidan Thomas, who is a well-known face in Tallaght said: “The whole of society is about community. Back in the day everyone cared for each other – no matter what, whether it was someone sick or in trouble. If you haven’t got community you haven’t got anything – but that’s exactly what we have right here.”
The Square has been welcoming the men since it first opened it’s doors and over the years they have sat on a wall on the concourse or whatever they could find. In 2007 a special bench was put in, in memory of long-time friend Paddy Rafter who was one of the first to take up residence in the corner. Just lately that wooden bench has been replaced with plush leather sofas allowing enough room for everyone to gather at the one time should it work out like that.
Paddy Starrs, who turned up late on the day and got a rubbing from the men for it, joked: “We waited years for these cushioned seats – we were forever complaining about the other ones, now they’ll never get rid of us!”
The characters in this corner are fascinating – there’s former Garda Bert Carey who originally came from John B Keane’s Lyrea Crompane but is in Tallaght 40 years. There’s ChristyDoyle from Old Bawn who played for Shels and was a senior international player. Gerry McCord who looks after the Oratory in The Square, but who was absent on the day, played for Pats while Phillipa McDermott the late poet can also be counted as a regular of the past.
There are many men have come and gone over the years. Even wives like Paddy Broe’s Phyllis but whether you are still about or passed on one thing is for sure – you won’t be forgotton.