Growing up in Cork, there were the Barrs people, our enemies and then there was the Bun Gang

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Eamon Fitzpatrick, advertising director


Growing up in Cork, in the Lough Parish, meant there were two types of people in the world. There were “Barrs” people and there were our enemies. That was how it was and we were happy with that.

They used to say that behind every good man was a great woman and I would argue, too, that behind every GAA Club was the backbone, which consisted of the Ladies Committee (or comm-i-tee as we say it in Cork).

This gathering of fantastic women was generally known in our house as the “Bun Gang”, aptly christened by my late father Séan.

Every Friday morning since Jimmy Barry Murphy was a boy, this gang did their grocery shopping in Cork city and gathered in our house afterwards for tea and buns.

Anchored by my Auntie Joan and my mother, Mary, the tea was made after the kettle was boiled twice, and the discussions would commence. It was like Christmas every week as the cakes were devoured and songs were sung.

Mostly the main topic of conversation though was: “What are we going to do about the Barrs?”

“Will we win the county?” Marie would always throw in that “all would be okay if we just marked our bloody men”.

There were times that you would be allowed sit for a limited time and listen to the talk, but mostly this was their time; these women who held our families, and more importantly, our beloved St Finbarr’s together.

Knowing these women has left me with very high expectations of what family life should be like. There was always cakes and treats left for the rest of us – never without a word of advice about our upcoming matches. We never needed much other than a hurley and ball when we garnered such guidance from these wonderful women

Even having moved from Cork over 20 years ago, I still ring home every Friday morning to hear my Mum’s voice lift when the Bun Gang are around her. The world is a better place when you’re surrounded by your friends and good food.

When my father passed away this summer and my mum was left devastated it was, of course, the Bun Gang that were there to help her through. My dad knew they would be – my mum’s friends, the Friday shoppers, the bun gang.

I hope I’ll be phoning every Friday for many years to come, and I hope there will be many more tea parties and food enjoyed in our house by these fantastic women, who have made such a difference to my life.

Long life to the gallant ol’ blues. (If you don’t understand, it just means you’re not a Barrs person – and that’s okay too.)

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