Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

  The Big Picture

Once a month or so, me sister and I used to take a walk or get dropped off at the local cinema, "The Whitehall Grand"... yeah, right. I guess it wasn't really a bughouse. It was quite new and while it transported us to all sorts of wonderful places we could only dream of, all the grannies filled it once a week for Bingo. So you get the idea.

The place was packed with hundreds of kids; the older ones and the poor unfortunates with their mammy or daddy in the balcony, the rest of us down with the rabble and the cockroaches.

We'd wait for ages and ages, not so patiently and the cheers that went up when the main feature actually started, nearly lifted the roof. It was like a football match. One time a bottle was flung at the screen and bounced off. Lee Marvin didn't even flinch.

This old guy in a uniform used to move up & down the aisles with a torch during the movie, momentarily blinding you, if you looked at him.
Shut up and watch the movie
Stop that!
Who's smoking over there? I saw yez lighting up.
Get your foot off that seat.
I'll have yez barred. Yez'll never see another fillum here.


One of my first ever "favourite movies" was "The Keys of the Kingdom" in which Gregory Peck played a priest in the Far East somewhere. Brilliant it was.

My dad wanted to take me to see "The Mark of Zorro" at another cinema in Drumcondra. It was supposed to be a big surprise and I remember him asking me a few times what the board said outside the cinema when we went by on the bus.

By the time we got there, the cinema had closed down and become another vital supermarket.

It wasn't the only time big plans with my dad got spoilt by forces beyond our control.
It was going to be a big thing for me to be taken up Nelson's Pillar by my dad on my 13th birthday. Well, he went off to Heaven before that birthday and it was no longer a big landmark in Dublin by then anyway.

Nelson's Pillar
Built in 1808, this towering 121 feet Doric column surmounted by the 13 feet high statue of Horatio Nelson was blown up on March 1966.

End quote

The site, in the middle of O'Connell Street, became known as Nelson's Patch.

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© gerry coughlan 1998 - 2012 gerry coughlan