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Window in Time from Paddy

Paddy Brennan at Ennis Cathedral with some of the photographs he has collected.  Photograph by Declan MonaghanA FORMER member of the production staff of The Clare Champion, Ennis man Paddy Brennan, has compiled a book depicting Clare, Ennis and its people through the generations.
A Window in Time – Clare, Ennis and its People Framed Through the Generations includes many fantastic photos, including sports events, school children, street and entertainment scenes dating back many years, as well as genuine heartfelt accounts of local stories covering aspects of local life.
Paddy retired from his role as production manager of the newspaper last year, having spent 49 years as an employee. He started work as a 16-year-old as a machine minder, later becoming a compositor, then a lino operator and moved on to the computers when that transition occurred. For the last 15 years of his years in the paper he was production manager.
Paddy said he started to collect photographs more than 20 years ago. “I loved photography. I won a camera when I was 14 for running in the CBS sports day. A cup was the first prize but I didn’t want the cup, I wanted the camera. It was a box brownie camera. I took the odd photograph here and there, purely for enjoyment,” he recalled.
Throughout his years in The Champion, he noticed many photographs never got to publication. “I felt there must be a way more photographs could be used and presented to the public. I began working towards the book nearly 12 years ago. Sean Spellisy produced two books of Ennis photos and had included some of mine in his books. A number of other people had brought out books with local photos and had come to me looking for them. It dawned on me that I might as well put together a book myself,” Paddy said.
He said he was brought up with local history all around him. “My father, Paddy, had his finger on the pulse of everything happening around Ennis so I grew up hearing all of these stories myself. He was the local sacristan in the cathedral so he knew everyone and everyone knew him. I felt, rather than lose such stories and photos, that a book like this would ensure that they’d be in the public domain and preserved. This is my first and it will be my only publication,” he explained.
After he retired, he had more time to concentrate on getting the book together. “It started off as a photographic essay but it grew legs as the time went on. Some of the photographs were sent in by readers of The Champion over the years. That’s what grabbed my interest.
The majority were not previously published in the newspaper or elsewhere. I was solely a collector and collator for the book. Coming from a sporting background, predominantly GAA, I wanted to include all sports and as many elements of society as possible I’ve included sports, education, street scenes, music and dance, among other areas. There is also a piece in it about the changeover in print from hard metal to computers. I very much enjoyed compiling stories that the book includes, as well as photographs. I’m not going to give any of them away yet though but they will be revealed in the book. Some of them go right back to my childhood so they are very fond memories for me,” Paddy remarked.
Some of the proceeds of the book will go towards John Dunne’s Ballygriffey drop-in centre for terminally ill patients. “John and I grew up together and hurled together so it is a cause close to my heart.”
Paddy lived his early years in Steele’s Terrace, moving to O’Connell Street in the late-1950s. He has been living in Clonroadmore for many years now.
“I dreamt the name of the book. I woke up one night with the title in my head and wrote it down. I think it sums up what the book is all about. I’m very happy with the finished product. There were so many photographs that I couldn’t include because I had so many but I feel I picked the best,” he added.
The book will be launched in the Old Ground Hotel on Friday, September 24 by Simon O’Donnell. “Simon also has a wealth of information on Ennis and he’s also my godfather. Some of the photos in the book came from him as they belonged to his father, Art O’Donnell,” Paddy concluded.

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