Crowley’s on McCurtain St., Cork, closes… fond memories…. any anecdotes?

As we previously noted, sadly, Crowley’s of McCurtain St. in Cork has closed. I can remember, as a teenager, going “up” to Cork (from Killarney) for the day and drooling at the guitars and amplifiers on display, then, in my later years, outfitting our first band with old-then Vox AC30’s (oh, to have them now!) bought from Mike Crowley and Paul Byrne (now sadly passed also). I bought my first Strat there……..


Here’s my Crowley’s/Strat story, circa 1972:

My brother had been up to Crowley’s to buy a proper bass (a Watkin’s Rapier) and came back with the news that there was a new-but-marked Strat for sale there, discounted by about £25, to, if I remember correctly, £230. That £25 was a lot of money back then, as I was only earning about £11 a week learning my trade. So, still a teenager, full of excitement, off to Cork I went the following week, and there was the Strat, sunburst, with a maple neck, hanging on the wall. Gorgeous, of course!
Of course, not having £230, I had to buy it on the never-never, Bowmaker’s Finance, if I remember correctly, and I had to wait a week to get approved (no internet, hardly a phone to be seen in those days). Mike allowed me about £60 on the Hofner 164 I was trading in, and the rest was financed……..

Still with me? The story continues……

The following Saturday I got my girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend to drive me up to get it (he had a Mini, I had only a Honda CB100).
All was fine on the way up, Mini flat out (no silly speed limits those days), Pat & girlfriend in front, me & her sister in the back, a stop in Macroom for a few pints and a bite to eat (oh, those days!), then full-speed-ahead for McCurtain St. All was well ’til we reached the corner of Washington St. and the Grand Parade, Singer’s Corner, and, as the Garda on traffic duty waved us on to turn left towards Patrick St., a cloud of smoke issued from the engine compartment of the Mini and a flame escaped from beneath the bonnet (hood, for our N. american friends). This quickly escalated to the point where other traffic gave us a wide berth, indeed, the cloud of smoke filled the inside of the car completely, and by now the flames were scorching the bonnet…..
Out we got, I must say with alacrity, and Pat announced to the Garda, whose eyes were like saucers and was standing there staring at this unusual sight in a nonplussed manner;

“It’s all right, I know what it is!”

By now of course, the whole of Cork was at a standstill and pedestrians were staying well clear in case of an explosion, whilst the two sisters were showing signs of panic and screaming, no doubt leading said pedestrians to believe someone was burning inside the car….

Pat opened the bonnet, more smoke issued, more flames escaped, more screams came from the girls, the Garda’s eyes opened even wider, and, braving the situation, plunged his hand into the inferno, withdrawing it a moment later, now sans cuff on his shirt-sleeve, and announced “It’s all right now” and he held up, for all to see, a burning log…………a large one, burning nicely.

This was quickly flung into the gutter, still burning, scattering a few onlookers that happened to be in the area.

“What in the name of Jaysus”, asked the Garda, recovering his composure, now that the moment of danger seemed to have passed, “was that doing in there?”, to which Pat replied, “Sure, didn’t the engine mount break the other day and I stuffed that log in there to stop it rattling around, never dreaming it’d go up?”…………
Of course, Pat had wedged it in nice and tightly between the exhaust manifold and the bodywork………

Meanwhile, I was almost lying on the ground, not so much from asphyxiation as hysterics, while the two sisters had by now redirected their screaming towards the unfortunate Pat, and the Garda was telling Pat to “get that piece of shit car out of here” and a few brave onlookers pushed the car onto the Grand Parade and down Patrick St. out of the way.
A quick visit to a nearby pub for a few restoratives while the car was airing out allowed time for everyone to get back to normal, the girls went shopping (to calm their nerves, no doubt), Pat stayed with the Mini and off I went to see Mike Crowley, Hofner in hand, to pick up my new Stratocaster.

We got as far as Macroom on the way home before the new piece of wood that Pat had somehow scrounged on Patrick St. started smouldering, but, as they say, that’s another story………

If you have any anecdotes about Crowley’s, we’d love to hear them….

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