The recent passing and funeral of Phil Griffin of the Latin Quarter provided yet another example of the closeness of the community and the neighbourliness of the those who grew up there and around the Barrack Street area.
Native, Denis Brosnan wrote an obituary years ago for the late Paddy Hussey and life around his pub which was a hub of activity in that community. In its course, Denis took his readers on as close as you’ll yet to a virtual tour of life – as it was then – in a newspaper article.
Here, he has put pen to paper again out of his fondness for, and life-long friendship with Phil Griffin.
The following is his tribute to his late neighbour and friend.
The late Phil Griffin – A Wonderful Life Growing-Up in The Latin Quarter
By Denis Brosnan.
In 1916 a young volunteer met and fell in love with a pretty young lady of Cumann na mBan, they married, set up home and a news agency, grocery and a public house in the Latin Quarter, which became popularly known as Davy’s.
They had five children, J.P., Josephine, Padraig, Maurice and Phillip, all of whom have now joined them in their heavenly abode.
As Phillip’s next door neighbour I knew him very well and look back with nostalgia at the wonderful life we had growing up in the Latin Quarter.
Davy’s corner was our meeting place, Davy’s gable was our handball alley, Barrack Street was our football field, until we were able to graduate to the Polo Grounds in the railway and dream of one day playing for the bottom of the town.
Courtney’s was our community centre, the River Maine was our fishing ground, swimming pool and seaside resort.
Phillip was an accomplished footballer, handballer and fisherman and particularly with the net. He was also our introduction to the lending library as he would bring comics out under his coat and give us a loan of them and slip them back again.
Money was something that never bothered us as none of us had any. A great thrill for us was to hop into the back of Den Joe Browne’s lorry with the Beagles and head for the mountains for a day. There was free movement from one house to the next and Phil always spoke of the wonderful atmosphere we grew up in and was very proud of his Latin Quarter heritage.
As time moved on we all went our different ways. Phil went to England and worked there for many years but every chance he got he came back on holidays.
He then tried hill farming in Co. Mayo but like all of us, who dearly loved our native place, he came back and set up home in Barrack Street.
Unfortunately when Phil returned he had health problems, he was caught in a vicious circle as he was putting on weight but had problems with his legs so he couldn’t exercise.
He endured excruciating pain at times but suffered silently as he did not want anybody to bear his sufferings for him. He was really appreciative of the help he was getting from his friends and neighbours.
He often said to me how kind and helpful all the girls in the shop were to him, the staff in Pat’s cafe and all his friends in the betting office.
Phil, you were a central and wonderful part of our growing up in the Latin Quarter. We remember you as a kind, considerate and true human being who never had a bad word to say about anybody, one who loved life and everybody.
Phil always felt safe and secure in the fact that Don and Geraldine were always at hand if he needed help. Don I know how much he appreciated all you did for him and he also had a great love for his Auntie Sighle and her boys particularly David, Michael and John.
Farewell Phil. Ni bheidh a leitheid aris ann. – Denis Brosnan – Embrace Life!