The Limerick legend and hardworking entrepreneur that is Ann Curley, pictured on the streets of Limerick City on one of her usual working days.
WATCH A tribute to Limerick living legend Ann Curley
By I Love Limerick Correspondent Mary Doyle
Ann Curley is nothing short of a Limerick legend in the eyes of those who are familiar with her work. Better known as ‘Curley’, Ann has worked so hard her entire life, from “teaching half of Weston to swim”, and running a club in Weston, to establishing a children’s holiday camp in Ballycotton, Co. Cork, funded by the proceeds of Curley’s Charity Stall at the Limerick Milk Market, and ‘Second-Time Round’, her thrift-shop on Wickham Street.
Ann Curley is a well-known, and much-adored character, whose love of children and dedication to her community is truly honourable. As her eightieth birthday approaches, we want to pay tribute to Ann, and give her life’s work the recognition it deserves.
A close friend of Ann’s, Caroline Clarke, who works for Our Lady of Lourdes Community Service, told us a little bit about Ann’s background in teaching and how the children’s holiday home came to be, saying, “She is a personal friend of mine for over 25 years – she is celebrating her 80th Birthday soon. Work-wise she was employed by Limerick Social Services group as a pre-school tutor in the mornings and in the afternoon/evenings she was a recreation tutor for Limerick City Council.”
Ann’s love of children was always central to her endeavours, from the beginnings of working as a teacher for many years, to establishing the Garryglass Children’s Holiday Home in Ballycotton a number of years ago. Ann brings dozens of local children to the Garryglass Holiday Home each summer for a unique holiday experience – a welcome break by the sea, away from technology and the hustle and bustle of modern life. No telly, no web, no phone coverage, no video games. A 1950’s summer holiday that gives Ann the opportunity to teach so many kids to swim and how to fish.
“She had her own building for many years at Garryglass and in the summer she ran a playscheme for circa 100 children for the whole month of July and in August, a children’s holiday where she took groups of kids away to the seaside, and she funded this mostly through the market and charity shop,“ Caroline added.
Ballycotton has become the focus for a summer adventure that has influenced so many of the local children, many of whom otherwise may not have had any opportunity of experiencing such a marvelous holiday. One of Curley’s major triumphs has been securing ownership of the house so that the future of the summer camp project is guaranteed.
Ann Curley left a very memorable impression on so many children in Limerick, from teaching them about life, to giving them the experience of the Garryglass Holiday Home, to spreading joy through her stall at the Milk Market week after week. Reminiscing on the impact that Ann had on them during their childhood, one Facebook user wrote, “Our very own legend, our childhood is full of great memories that Curley helped us make”. Another user said, “They broke the mould when they made Curley, she reared us all. She was a second mother to us all growing up. Our childhood had the best of memories because of this lady.”
Ann’s charity stall at the Limerick Milk Market, which she has now been running every Saturday for over thirty years (currently taking a break due to Covid-19 restrictions), is not only an essential component to the administration of the Garryglass Children’s Holiday Home, but is also the heart and soul of the Milk Market. Curley’s Charity stall is often the first thing encountered by those entering the Milk Market through the Mungret Court Archway, and it is a hub for activity and engagement. A haven for unexpected gems and bargains, you never know what you will find amidst the wacky and wonderful collection of second hand, or “worn once”, ladies apparel, comics, books, toys and assorted bric-a-brac that she sells.
When asked about Ann Curley, Manager of the Limerick Milk Market, David Fitzgerald, had nothing but positive things to say, “Ann I suppose, is a very hard worker, she gets straight to the point, takes no nonsense, and she would be, in a very positive sense, as tough as hard-nail boots. But at the same time she has a heart of gold. When you see her or talk to her for the first few times, you will see that she is a big presence, and she’s famous across Limerick for her compassion, her kindness, and the hard work she has put into the community.”
“She has also been involved in the community in so many other ways, she has helped people with education, bringing them up from difficult spots. She is a quintessential Limerick person, her resilience really signifies Limerick in the sense that she will keep going no matter what and she’s as tough as they come, but has a very caring nature behind it all. She always looks after people, she’s a force to be reckoned with you know, she punches above her weight, and I think that is Limerick. She epitomises all the good qualities about Limerick,” he added.
We hope to see Ann back at the Milk Market soon, doing what she does best, but in the meantime, the I Love Limerick team want to pay tribute to her work and wish her a very Happy Eightieth Birthday.
For more information on Ann Curley’s Charity Stall, click here.
For more stories on the Milk Market, click here.
By Sinéad Benn
This lady is just super
She holds a high position,
Very well deserving
Of total recognition
Kids from Weston through the years
She treated like her own,
They are adults now,
And want to thank her
Now that they have grown
She taught so many how to swim
And day trips, her great deeds,
As she worked her shop
‘Second time round’
support for all their needs
Many want to thank
For memories that will stay,
A legend of dear Limerick
Three cheers for u we say! ⭐