Coill Dubh shopkeeper Eden’s memoirs recall a different era

The author with Fr. Ramsbottom.
Buying a lorry for £200, buying a tankful of petrol for the lorry for a £1, and earning a good weekly wage of £5 are all part of the memoirs of Edward Ward, known as Eden, launched last Sunday October 27.

Buying a lorry for £200, buying a tankful of petrol for the lorry for a £1, and earning a good weekly wage of £5 are all part of the memoirs of Edward Ward, known as Eden, launched last Sunday October 27.

It’s an amazing look back at rural Kildare of the 1920’s and 30’s, where “better off people” travelled to Mass in a pony and trap.

Dozens of locals from Coill Dubh and surrounding townlands joined the 98-year-old at Coill Dubh Community Centre for the launch of ‘Edward Ward, My life story – My memoirs and Observations’.

The book chronicles his life from early days on the canal banks in Blackwood to various jobs he had, which included working as a milk man, turf man and shop keeper.

Eden, who married his girlfriend of 40 years at the ripe old age of 87, is, his family say, still sharp as a tack, still drives very well and is thoroughly enjoying life.

The book recalls his young life, the death of his mother, his days as a gifted pupil in primary school, but having to leave school at the age of 14 to help run the family farm.

At a later point, he decided to go into turf production, and for about a decade in the 1930s and 40’s he was quite successful a change of government de-prioritised the production of turf which lead to resurgence of the availability of coal.

However, from the mid 40’s, he had his shop in Cooleragh which supplied the Bord na Mona hostel workers – and there he stayed until the mid 1990’s, when he retired.

Down through the years, he ran milk delivery businesses alongside the shop.

Eden married his late wife, Rose Murphy, who had worked with him in the shop for many years. He notes that she died on March 15, 2012: “I was then, and still am, shattered by the loss”.

They were “inseparable companions as well as husband and wife” – and the book is dedicated to her.

Writing in the foreward of the book, Fr. Pat Ramsbottom said that “Edward Ward emerges in this memoir as a master story-teller with a wry eye and a sharp wit; he is not blinded by fads or fashions, but has the ability to see everything with a knowing eye, and to get to the essence of things that any reader can understand”.