Alice Patricia Rattigan, who sang with the famous Bert Flynn Band in the 1950s, recently made a return visit to her native Roscommon. Alice was accompanied by her daughter, Sandra (Harris), and by two of her four grandsons, Harley and Travis.
While they were already enjoying the Roscommon hospitality by then, when Alice’s grandsons had a chance meeting with Noel Hoare in the County Museum on Main Street, the local historian arranged for Alice to meet with her family’s former next-door neighbour, well-known local character Tom ‘T’ Hill.
Tom and Alice were soon sharing memories of their childhood in Roscommon Town. Tom recalled Alice singing with Bert Flynn’s Band at the Astor Ballroom in the 1950s
Alice was born a couple of miles from Roscommon Town, in Carrowmore, Kilteevan. When she was aged three, her family moved to Lisbride Gate Lodge. When she was aged eight, they moved to No. 18 Henry Street.
In January 1956, then aged 19, Alice emigrated to the UK. Meanwhile, her sisters moved from 18 Henry Street into the house next door to Tom Hill (also in Henry Street).
Reflecting on their recent trip, Alice’s daughter, Sandra, told the Roscommon People: “Tom is a great character and an excellent historian. Tom and my mother spoke about the incredible kindness of good neighbours and friends who got many families through some very difficult and hungry times in the past. Tom explained that the very same community spirit prevails in Roscommon to this day.
“He said his own neighbours had saved his life during a house fire and the local community had raised funds to rebuild his badly burned home”.
The time spent with Tom Hill was special, but not the only highlight of their trip. Another was the visit to Time Pieces in Main Street. The party were bowled over by the “exquisite displays” in Roscommon’s ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ and also so grateful for the warm welcome from Agnes, Lorna, Maura, Jean, Mary, Grace and Emily.
Another highlight was their visit to the County Museum, which they found very enlightening.
The trip also had a poignant side as the visitors paid their respects at the grave of Alice’s eldest brother, Paddy, who died in August of this year (RIP).
Sandra asked if they could thank people for their kindness through the pages of the Roscommon People.
“Very special thanks goes to John Hoare and his family for their kindness and for the beautiful renovation of Alice’s family’s graveside where she was able to pay her respects to her parents, three sisters and most recently, the very sad passing of her eldest brother, Paddy.
“We would also like to say a very big ‘thank you’ to the chefs and staff in two local restaurants, Regan’s and Jackson’s. Thanks also to the Cake ‘n’ Bake Cafe for the fabulous crepes and friendly staff.
“Lastly, but certainly not least, gratitude and thanks go out to Tom, Evelyn and Hugh Kilduff who assisted with taxi transport and provided much entertainment to and from Knock Airport. Appreciation also to Tony and Kevin for assisting with transport”.
Sandra concluded: “Alice met some wonderful people during her short stay. Roscommon has a rare and very special community of people”.