Mickey a veteran of the Rineen ambush this piece was written by his daughter Netta Gardiner in 2011 (Aged 78).
My Dad was born in Lahinch, Co. Clare in 1895. He was christened Michael Brendan, but he was known to his family as Mickey. His Father was Matt Reynolds of Baile Beg, Attycristoria, Lahinch. His mother was Mary Slattery from Liscannor. My Dad grew up as a member of a large Family. He attended Lahinch National School and the C.B.S. Secondary School in Ennistymon.
As a boy he loved everything Irish, and he loved his country with a passion. In his early twenties he took at active part in the Rineen Ambush, about half way between Lahinch and Miltown Malbay, where a bullet penetrated the calf of his leg and exited the other side. He used to show me the scar when I was a child, and tell me the story of the Ambush.
He met my Mom, Kathleen Jones, in Lahinch, where she and her sister leased and managed Lally’s Lodge. In 1927 he went to America where he lived with his sister, Delia, who was Mrs. O’Brien. While he was there, he studied mechanics, how to maintain aircraft, how to install household central heating. He also studied to become an Electrician. He loved to study. He loved America with all the opportunities it offered. In 1929 my Mom joined him, and they were married in St. Joseph’s Church in Hartford, Connecticut, in July 1929. Four years later my Mom got pregnant with me. She did not want me to be born in America, so she came home for my birth in March 1933. My Dad followed a few months later. I was their only child. I grew up listening to stories about all the old Irish legends, and fairies and leprechauns.
My Dad loved mathematics and he used to help me with my homework. He used to buy big mathematic books for the pleasure of working out the problems. He had a marvellous brain, and used to invent gadgets to help Mom around the house. He loved the Irish language and he used to listen to the programme on Radio Eireann called “Listen and Learn”. Then he would speak to me in Irish to practice what he had learned. He was a kind loving man with a great sense of humour. My Dad loved animals. We always had a cocker spaniel at home when I was growing up. I got my love of animals from my Dad. Dad used to do magic tricks for my friends, my cousins and I and he used to tell us the most wonderful stories.
He worked as a mechanic in Sheils Garage in New Road in Ennis. We lived in Steele’s Terrace in Ennis. Later on, after the Second World War, he got a job with the Health Board as the county electrician based in Ennis County Hospital. When he retired, he opened his own electrical repair business. He had four grandchildren whom he loved dearly, and of whom he was very proud. He was a heavy smoker, and succumbed to lung cancer in his sixties. He died in January 1971 when the cancer had spread to his bones. He had just built a lovely new bungalow in New Road in Ennis. Unfortunately, he never got to live in it, because it was only built up to the roof when he died. He and my Mom lived with us in Kincora Park in Ennis while their house was being built. He was very ill at the time. He suffered a lot but he bore it with patience and fortitude like the true Irishman that he was. My husband Eamonn Gardiner looked after him like a son. We were all devastated when he died.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhilis.
One of his grandchildren was so saddened by Dad’s death that he wrote a little poem about his precious memories of him. He was in his mid-teens at the time. I have included it here, in order to give another perspective on my wonderful Dad.
By Eugene Gardiner.
Whenever your thoughts have wandered away,
Think of your friend of yesterday.
The good times we shared,
The voices we aired.
Cherished times and treasured dreams,
Days of old so long gone it seems.
A smile a glance, a trouble shared,
A friend who’s around, when there’s no one else there.
Thanks Granda, old friend,
We’re one of a kind:
Right through to the very end,
And forever on my mind.
You taught me the importance of reading,
You showed me the way you planted the seedling.
Always time for the kid on the street,
And a silvermint for whomever you meet.
Respected by all, a good, honest man,
A hard working electrician.
You made me feel proud among all the old lads,
Because I was your grandson and you my grandad.
Thanks Grandad, old friend,
We’re together in mind.
Right beyond the very end,
Even to the end of time.
A little young to know how or why,
And without time to say “Goodbye”.
A lot of hearts were broken bad,
And I never since felt so sad.
But now I’m older, I can see,
That death’s no end to life for me.
But a crossroads, where old friends can meet,
And walk embraced down another street.