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A Personal Account of Mosney by Margaret Freeney Back

Where do I start. I have just discovered this site and read the memories of Mosney and I have to confess I ended up crying. They brought back so many lovely family memories and special times in my life. Some of my best childhood memories happened at Butlins Mosney. From the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s my parents took my brother and myself to Butlins every June, my nana always came with us. We always stayed in the chalets and we always ended up going to the early sitting for dinner and remember Radio Butlins announcing when it was time to go to the dining room. From memory there were two main doors into the dining room and I remember many nights queuing up for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. I remember that a photographer came around one a week and took everyone’s photo and they were given back to you in the form of a red key ring, but not just any key ring, you have to look into the top of the keyring to see the photo, a bit like you look into a Kaleidoscope. We still have some of these at home. One of my favourite memories is swimming in the indoor pool and going underwater to wave at my parents or anyone who was looking at us. I also remember going to the Gaiety Theatre every night to see the shows and especially loved the Redcoats Show. Then we headed to the Ballroom for the song "Good night Children" then over to Dan Lowery’s for the nightly show there. I remember running ahead of everyone to get to Dan Lowerys to try to get a table near the stage. The ballroom holds many memories for me. Even as a child I loved to dance and remember joining in with the redcoats doing all sorts of silly dances and feeling so great on the floor. They also held the Mother & Child competition, Junior Miss competition and many more. I remember my mother making matching outfits for herself and me for the Mother & Child Competition. They were navy dresses with red and white check on them. We got second that year. In those days the Redcoats were brilliant. There was so many of them on the campsite and you would get all tingly when you saw one of them, waving and calling to them and to be honest making a right fool of yourself. I am sure all those Redcoats got a right laugh about us. The ones I especially remember are Lynn who was lovely with long blonde hair and mad Gerry who wore glasses.

I have memories of a sweet shop which was nearly opposite the entrance to the indoor swimming pool and games room. The sweet shop had an in door and an out door. This was where most people’s pocket money went. It was like Aladdin’s cave in there when you were a child. I remember in the Playhouse theatre they held a singing competition and my brother sang "The wheels on the bus", he was only 3 and everyone clapped like crazy when he finished because he was so small. Speaking of my brother the only bad time we had a Butlins Mosney was when my mam left my brother into the Creche to be minded, she was getting her hair done or something and when she went back to pick him up he was gone. Everyone in the camp was out looking for him and eventually he was found happy as larry sitting in the middle of the sandpit in the children’s playground, he was only 3 at the time. It is only now that I am older and have children myself I appreciate what my mam must have been going through when he was missing.

I remember the few times when the sun was out we went swimming in the outdoor pool, which was always freezing but we didn’t seem to mind too much at the time. I never did try the skating rink out, always felt afraid of skates. Then there was the swan boats on the boating lake, we went on these daily. I have memories of my dad playing snooker in the games room for hours on end and me sitting there with a fizzy orange wishing he would finish and go swimming as we were too young to go into the pool on our own without an adult. I remember one year standing at the side of the pool at the deep end and someone pushed me in. I can still remember the panicky feeling when I was under the water, eventually someone pulled me up and put me sitting on the side of the pool and my mam ran down to me with a beautiful coloured towel that someone had brought home from Spain for us. It had not been washed before we used it and when my mam dried me off I was covered in black bits from the towel. Isn’t is funny the things you remember.

Does anyone remember Puffin Billie, the train that used to run from the mainline train station up to the campsite? I loved going on this. I also enjoyed going to the amusement park, where they had bumpers and a ride where you sat in an elephant and it went round and round then up in the air. Not being a fan of fair rides I remember even being nervous on this at an early age. There was also a small ride that had little boats on water. My little brother loved this ride.

The chalets were so basis but I loved staying in them. They had someone who walked up and down the lines of chalets at night listening for crying babies and then it was announced over the speakers. The Redcoats were just brilliant, you spent your week looking at the timetable of events and trying to work out how you could go to everything and not miss out on anything.

After we stopped having family holidays there when I was a teenager I went with friends for a couple of years to see the Old Time Dancing Championships. The All Ireland Championships was held in Mosney for many years, now that was a great weekend. I was involved in Old Time dancing at the time and it was so lovely to see all the couples dancing on such a lovely floor in the Ballroom. I remember on one of these holidays I had a major crush on a Redcoat, his name was Wally. He was tall with a bit head of fuzzy curly hair and of course like any young teenager we followed him everywhere. What were we like? I also remember seeing Johnny Logan and his family there playing the gaming machines. We all thought he was a bit of a hunk back then. He had on tiny white shorts and a white tee-shirt and looked very yummy at the time. I used to spend hours playing bingo and earning points to save up to get a prize. Looking back I probably spent a fortune to win a little teddy or something like that, but it was really enjoyable.

Many many years later I took my two children to Mosney for the day to show them where I had spent lots of my summer holidays. I have to say I was very disappointed with everything, maybe it was because I was now an adult? But so many things had changed. The indoor swimming pool was unrecognisable, Dan Lowery’s had gone. The Gaiety Theatre had been turned into a paint balling place and we only saw one Redcoat during the whole day there. The ballroom was the same but not much more. It is really sad that Butlins Mosney has gone maybe one day someone will have the great idea of opening it up as a holiday camp again and have it like it was in the good old days. I have wonderful memories of Mosney and am so glad that I was lucky enough to spend so many summer holidays there. My nana and mam have passed away so it is lovely to have all these lovely memories of them in Butlins. Thank you Billy Butlin.

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