Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The magnolias of Manor Street

"When the magnolia begins to blossom." It's almost like one of those much parodied movie moments in which the secret agents exchange their code phrases...

''Yes, and the daffodils should do well this year."

"My emu only has one leg."

"Oh really? My hovercraft is full of eels."

"OK. Gotcha. And the chocolate mousse is in season again. The chocolate mousse I said, not mouse."

"Yes, Gorky Park is beautiful at this time of the year, don't you think? But does your garden hose leak in the springtime?"

"Oh. What? Ah. A fine day for backgammon, n'est-ce pas?"

"Yes, but my haberdasher never wears yellow."

"OK, gis the plans, Hans."

Joking apart, you can tell spring is truly sprung in Stoneybatter when the magnolia starts to blossom in Manor Street, in the front garden of Number 83.

83 Manor Street: the magnolia beginning to flower earlier this month (above) and (top pic) in full bloom a few years back
A dark grey and white plaque on the house says the poet Austin Clarke (9 May 1896 – 19 March 1974) was born here. He also worked as a journalist, broadcaster and playwright, and founded the Lyric Theatre in Belfast in 1965.

Today Number 83 is the home of master craftsman James Beatley. In this mesmerising mini-documentary by Mark Coughlan, the luthier (that's somebody who makes stringed instruments) talks about his work and his legacy in years to come.

(There are a few more magnolias on Manor Street, including one at the front of a house next to the "pigeon house" where the pigeons all congregate.)

"Unmarried Mothers" by Austin Clarke, 1963

In the Convent of the Sacred Heart
The Long Room has been decorated
Where a Bishop can dine off golden plate
As Oriental Potentate.
Girls who will never wheel a go-cart
Cook, sew, wash, dig, milk cows, clean stables
And twice a day, giving their babes the teat,
Herdlike, yield milk that cost them dearly,
When their skirts were tossed up above their haunches
Hook or zip has warded them at Castlepollard
Luckier girls on board a ship
Watch new hope spraying from the bollard.