THE most certain sign of love, and one of the most endearing and natural features of a relationship, is the need to slag the person who has given you a lifetime of happiness. Maureen and Danny Reynolds have been together for over 50 years, but they speak with a youthful glee when looking back at their lives together.
Danny, like many cheeky charmers, has obtained a Masters in getting a rise from his wife and he still finds it hard to resist throwing a barb her way over the fact that, at 73, she is almost three years his senior. The longer they chat the more exaggerated that figure becomes, growing to four or five occasionally, only to be met by a gentle thump of Maureen’s hand against his arm.
Her husband’s family were originally from Morrison’s Road but moved to St John’s Park when he was a child, “an absolutely brilliant” place to grow up, he says with pride. When they weren’t wandering out towards Killure or doing a loop around Ballygunner, the local children would pass the hours through sport in the area.
“We had a fella called Eddie Dewberry out there and he would look after us all. You had Fr. Pat’s pitch out there and Eddie would have us playing football and hurling – it would be dark in the night when we’d come back home.”
His father was one of 11 reared in Roscommon but he moved to the South East having joined the army, later working in the Foundry.
“He was living in Bagenalstown where he was training fellas and he moved to Waterford where he met my mother, a Morrison’s Road woman. He was cycling a bike until he was 88 – a very fit man. He went to the doctor for a check-up one time and I asked him what the doctor said to him afterwards. ‘Get another tyre for that bike’, he says.”
Maureen grew up on Roche’s Street, another “lovely area” and she can remember her father flying the black and amber flag on the roof of the house much to the ire of his otherwise friendly neighbours.
“We had great days. We played beddies, shop, skipping. ‘All in together girls, never mind the weather girls. When you count six, do those tricks. Two, four, six’. We used to go up the walls and swing on poles, play games in the park. Pick blackberries and sell them to go to the pictures. Just great times. My father was a builder, and he worked hard, but he was killed by a drunken driver at 47. My mother was a brilliant woman. Looking back I can tell you we were never short anything.”
An interviewer’s dream, the couple bounce off one another in conversation and each still giddily laughs at each other’s memories of the early stages of their relationship having met in the Olympia, with Maureen remembering her future husband would always seem to be hanging out by Delicata’s chipper.
“I can remember being on the floor that night,” Danny recalls with a bold smile, “she was dancing with another fella, but when she saw me she melted.”
“I did not, I did not,” his wife retorts, “that’s a lie.”
She continues: “On Sunday nights the men used to stand on the one side and the women would come in on the other side. They were all probably after having a few. They would be straight over to you. I was out on the floor and of course he thought he was great because I left a fella there for him.”
“She came out to John’s Park following me,” Danny interjects.
“I did not.”
“My father used to bring her home at night on his Yellow Submarine, a lambretta scooter,” Danny tells me.
“And used you do the chivalrous thing and walk her home from the Olympia,” I ask.
“Oh yeah, of course.”
“Tell him what you used to get though,” Maureen intervenes.
“Sometimes she’d give me the bike to get home but when it was all off she wouldn’t. Both of us worked in Waterford Crystal at Johnstown and I’d go into work – they wouldn’t see if I went in on the bike or not. They’d all be up looking out the windows and they’d see her come in. ‘It’s all off with Dan and Maureen, she came in on the bike’.”
Working in the glass factory was “great craic”, both agree, although you couldn’t do anything wrong there in fear of the whole place being up on top of you over it. With countless families all working there and staff from similar backgrounds, it comes as no surprise it felt more like another enjoyable community than a workplace.
“I’m going to test him now, ok,” I say to Maureen.
“Do,” she agrees.
“Your wedding day, tell us about it.”
“Go’wan. Go’wan now,” she states before listening with a stern intent.
“It was July 29, 1969.”
“Mm-hmm,” she nods knowingly.
“We got married in St John’s.”
“We had the reception in the Tower Hotel.”
“And we went on our honeymoon over to Tumbridge Wells in England.”
Having passed the exam, he continues: “Up we went to Brady’s for a singsong after our honeymoon. All the glass factory fellas were there. Maureen was asked to sing a song. What do you think she sang? I let my Heart fall into Careless Hands!”
“He never left it down up to this day. I made a show of him,” she laughs.
“All the glass factory were there and every time we met John Brady afterwards he would say it. Can you imagine the deadening I got in the factory over that?”
Two self-confessed homebirds, Danny says the furthest he’ll get away from Ireland is the backstrand, they were always happy to remain in Ireland, and Waterford particularly, during their holidays.
Danny explains: “We reared our children by the Saleens and in a mobile home out in Dunmore East. When they got the holidays in June we were straight out there and wouldn’t come back until they were back to school.”
Maureen adds: “When you’d get your holidays from the glass we’d travel around Ireland as well. We saw everywhere. Ennis, Roscommon, Killarney. I love it here, with the weather it’s the best place in the world.”
Living in Sunrise Crescent since 1972, where they wouldn’t leave if they won the lotto, the couple keep themselves busy with simple activities each day. Maureen, a shopaholic or perhaps supermarketaholic, will meet friends for a coffee or visit her boyfriend in the Friary, St Anthony, while, her husband trains gun dogs, often bringing them out around Cloghernagh.
When they’re home in the evenings however, he knows to keep covert and leave the living room, allowing the woman he loves to keep up with the soaps he has no interest in. The formula certainly works, they’ll be married 50 years in July, exceeding the expectations of many.
“We’re still together anyway,” Maureen states, “and the messers in the glass only gave him one year with me.”
In conversation with Ronan Morrissey