Statia's Snaps“Statia inadvertently, without knowing, ran a youth club before the term was ever coined.”

As heard on The Ray D'Arcy Show

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Eating a bag of crisps and drinking Coke from a glass bottle down the local pool hall sounds like paradise to Ray D’Arcy. Or so he told Wexford man Shane Mc Donald as they basked in a wave of nostalgia brought on by Shane’s stories of his home village of Raheen and the legendary Statia Murphy.

Statia was the local postmistress who ran a shop and a pool hall “on the back end of the Post Office” for four decades. It was very popular, according to Shane, Chairperson of the Raheen Parish Committee:

“Day and night there was a crowd in Statia’s. Statia inadvertently, without knowing, ran a youth club before the term was ever coined.”

What was unusual about Statia was that she documented her business and her clientele over the years in a series of photographs. This rich resource is something the community are keen to celebrate in a charity calendar featuring ‘Statia’s Snaps’, as Shane explained:

“She wasn’t as fond of being in front of the camera herself. She loved the youth and loved to take photographs and capture memories. And I guess that’s what we wanted to share in our calendar.”

Statia captured all the local colour in her time running the ‘youth club’. Her snaps feature some some epic Johnny Logan-inspired haircuts and precious moments that won’t be seen again, like the time three lads rode a Honda 50 into the pool room and posed for a photo, with Statia’s approval:

“They brought the bike into the pool room. I suppose if it happened nowadays there would be health and safety issues. It was good clean fun at the time. There was no malice in it. Statia was right at the heart of it thankfully.”

Statia passed away in 2016 and the Post Office, shop and pool hall are no more. Luckily, her photographs had been scanned and digitally preserved by her sister Mary and a selection appear on the charity calendar.

The eye-popping numbers of photos we carry around in our phones these days makes a pre-smartphone era collection like Statia’s all the more precious. The story of Statia’s Snaps is itself a snapshot of a changing rural Ireland as she became an accidental archivist of days gone by. The proceeds from the sale of the ‘Statia’s Snaps’ calendar will help fund the local senior citizens Christmas party in Raheen.

Listen to the whole story of the Statia’s Snaps calendar in the full interview here.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2019

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