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01/08/2021

Cheeky Shetland pony stole bread from Offaly woman's table

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Sarah Condron has happy memories of growing up in Killeigh

I was born in 1980 and Scrubb, Killeigh has always been my home. My mother, Ann, raised me in her family home. When I was very young there were four generations under the same roof, my mam and her siblings, my granny and her uncle, Pat Colgan. When my mam was young, they lived in Uncle Pat’s thatched cottage which is a few hundred metres from where the current family home is now. They moved to the new house in 1965. The house was full and busy when I was small and being the youngest I was spoiled with attention. My cousin, Libby and I were very close growing up and still are. If I wasn’t in her house, she was in mine.

My granny, Kit Condron (nee Purcell) ran the household and looked after me when my mam was working in the garage, Condron Engineering, with her Dad and brothers. My Granny had a big influence on me and I have very fond memories of her. In the mornings, you’d always hear Gay Byrne’s radio show in the background and then as the day went on, my Granny used to be busy preparing dinner for everyone. I don’t know how she fed so many people with such ease and good humour but there was always somehow enough to go around.

As well as the family there were always extra people at the dinner table at 1pm. I guess it was people who were helping out my Uncle Aiden on the farm or people who were picking strawberries for my Uncle Sean. My Granny used to turn out a huge pot of boiled potatoes for everyone and I’d struggle to peel them while they were still scalding hot. We’d usually have home grown vegetables to eat and a chicken that had been reared in the backyard, good wholesome grub. While the dinner was cooking she’d also dash together an apple tart or scones for the boys which always went down well. After dinner there’d be a few games of twenty-five. The games were lively and competitive but I was allowed to play even though I’m sure I ruined many games by forgetting rules or, God forbid, reneging!

I was very fortunate when I was young to spend time with older members of the family, Uncle Pat and my great grandfather Ned Purcell. I remember them both as lovely kind men who smoked a pipe and loved to chat. My Granduncle, Ben Purcell, a big GAA man in Killeigh and a talented carpenter, was very good to me growing up. He used to bring myself and Libby to Mass on Sundays where we’d sit in the porch and leave at “half time” to get a good run at the shop and have plenty of time to select our goodies!

We had a field of strawberries behind the house for many years and I used to adore having a big bowl of strawberries and homemade ice-cream in the summer. Daisy the cow provided milk for a few years and my granny enjoyed taking care of her and was proud of the lovely fresh milk we had. My Mam loves to cook and would cook curries and stir-fries when I was young and now my favourite food would be a really hot fiery curry.

A favourite memory of mine is sitting down for dinner as usual on Saturday and to everyone’s shock and delight, in trotted a Shetland pony into the kitchen. Aiden and my cousin Eamonn had bought him for me at Ballinasloe Fair! He stole bread off the table and exited fairly quickly after that. Scooby, as I name him, was a bold little thing but I loved him dearly. I’d been going horse riding to Helen Meehan’s riding school for a while and I was horse mad; still am.

On Sunday evenings a favourite thing to do was to play games like Blindman’s Bluff and cards and board games at home, but during the summer we’d often head down to the village green to play tennis in the ball alley. This made up game was far from Wimbledon tennis, it was a mixture of squash and tennis and handball all together and it was mighty craic.

Growing up there were lots of activities for kids in Killeigh. I did a bit of set dancing with Eileen Brady in the GAA clubhouse and later some tin whistle with John Brady and also swimming lessons on Saturdays which was organised by the school parent’s committee. I loved doing art lessons at the Mill House with the now renowned artist, Mark O’Neill, who was a great teacher and made the classes loads of fun. Embarrassingly, I gave up these lessons as it clashed with Beverly Hill 90210! I played a bit of football in primary school and we had a pretty good team. I was never much of a player but I really enjoyed the training and the sense of pride when we played well and I loved wearing the black and amber. The Youth Club was fantastic and I really enjoyed going there on Friday evenings. It was great to go on trips and was a fantastic way to get to know other kids in the area.

In the future, I look forward to there being activities for everyone in the new community centre. Thinking of my own hopes for the centre, I’d like if there were sports and classes for kids. My little girl, Wren is only four months old but in the future, I look forward to bringing her to the centre to meet up with her friends. Also, I know many would love to see a Parents & Baby/Toddler group in the village where parents could meet up for a cup of tea and chat. As a piano teacher, I like to hold concerts for my students which are attended by parents, family and friends. In the past, I’ve used a venue in Tullamore but I’d love to bring this event to the village and I think the community centre would offer the ideal location for this.

I wish the committee all the best with their latest fundraiser which is a raffle with a prize of a new three-bedroom house in Enfield valued at €350,000. The hard work of the committee members, and continued support of the community has been astounding, and I can’t wait to see them break ground on the community centre soon.

Please visit www.winahouseinenfield.com if you would like to buy a ticket and be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize whilst supporting the fundraising efforts of the Killeigh Community Centre Development Association.

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