15th July 1999

It’s gone, and no wonder, imagine taking your pet to a vet who lived on the Hangdog Road. Worse still, living there, what an address you’d have, and at the interview for that once in a lifetime job and as you hear yourself saying “I live on the Hangdog Road”. You get that sinking feeling that the interviewer is going to say “next”. Or how would you like to buy meat from the butcher on the Hangdog Road.
It had to go. Not obliterated just a name change. So where was the Hangdog Road? Sorry - if you don’t know - I’m not going to tell you, but I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out.
As a small boy living in Frankfield I was afraid of the Hangdog Road. You see I had a dog of my own. It wasn’t Old Shep, her name was Peggy and she was a tall black Cocker, much bigger than I was, and I used to drag her around on a piece of string. Except in the mornings when she would follow me down to the Douglas Boys School on the Carrigaline Road and wait all day by the Bow-Wow bridge until school finished. At the time I thought that’s why it was called the Bow-Wow. If I was loaded, which wasn’t very often, not on three pence a week pocket money, I’d buy a penny bar in Chambers shop and half it with Peggy. In the fine weather we’d take a short cut home by going up Inchvale Lane to Vernamount and then up through the fields to our house.
I’ll never forget the day my mother found a hole in my very best ‘Sunday goin’ to Mass shoes’. They’d have to be re-soled. So off with me to Willie O’Donovan the shoemaker in Douglas Street. With my good shoes in one hand and Peggy on a string in the other, I headed off down towards the Snotty Bridge, then in along the Kinsale Road as far as the Macroom Railway bridge, then through the railings and down on to the line. There was no way I was taking my Peggy near the Hangdog Road. Tripping along and trying to hop-skip over the sleepers I slipped and fell a couple of times cutting my hands and knees several times on the sharp stones. Luckily Peggy licked the blood off my cuts, and my grandmother always told me if you let a dog lick your wounds they will heal. When I got to the bridge on the Back Douglas Road I climbed up on to the road, headed along Capwell, then down High Street to Douglas Street.
The cobblers shop was right alongside the Crusceen Lan pub just opposite the top of Rutland Street. When I handed Willie O’Donovan my shoes he noticed my cuts and asked me what had happened. So I told him my story, he gave a knowing smile and said that while he was repairing my shoes he’d tell me about the Hangdog Road.
During the Famine the Cork Dog Pound was on the South Side of the City where the C.M.P. now stands. Stray dogs not claimed after six weeks were to be put down. But at the request
of the local fishermen the unclaimed dogs were hanged instead of being shot. This meant the skin on the dogs body was unbroken. Once hanged the dead dog was thrown into a pot of boiling water. This streached the skin, the dog was quickly pulled out and with a sharp knife a circle was cut around the top part of the dogs neck. The skin could then be easily pulled back over the dogs body. When this was done the skin of course was inside out. The paws and the tail end were bound with cat gut and chopped off. We now had an inside out dog skin bag. The outside was rubbed with lime to cure it, and the inside was filled with urine and left for two weeks. Needless to say the neck was tied with cat gut. After two weeks the urine had dissolved the dog hair and the skin was once more reversed. It was now hairless and airtight and could be blown up like a balloon and sealed at the neck. It was then tarred to preserve it. This ensured it was waterproof, and it made a perfect float for a fisherman. One it could be used as a float for nets when they were trawling, and second when a fishing line was wound around it with a deep sea bait and hook on one end. The minute the float started to spin with the blown up legs flaying the waters the fisherman knew he had a catch.
All this helped some of our people survive through a terrible period of our history. And it was how the place became known as the Hangdog Road. That old dog pound is long gone now and they don’t hang dogs there anymore, so rest assured your dog is quite safe. The relief was wonderful and I went home feeling quite happy knowing my dog was safe from hanging.
All long ago and far away, the time and the places mostly forgotten. Still when I think back to that misty past half a century ago I sometimes see a friendly black dog and the little boy he used to mind,


Oh! Peggy, my Peggy,
My doggie, my friend,
Where is the true love, that
To me you did lend,
Where now is your soft bark,
Your long floppy ears,
All gone little Peggy,
All gone like my tears,
And what of your stout heart,
I thought could not fail,
Gone little Peggy, like
The shake of your tail,
Oh! once, little doggie
Your dark eyes would shine
With genuine friendship,
I knew was all mine.
Then your heaven claimed you,
Your life at an end,
Oh! Peggy, my Peggy,
My doggie, my friend.

Ronnie McGinn.


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