Jerry Cotter and his Hackney


-A man who touched many hearts   
-Anna-Marie O' Sulivan

Nowadays  every  household has the essential commodity of a car, some may even have two  or three however turning back the clock about 50 or 60 years ago this was not the case.
A village in West Cork or any part of rural Ireland were lucky if one or two cars  were owned  locally by residents
At that time you wouldn't have the choice of various brand names and styles you would have had  to make do with the old reliable Cork manufactured Ford Model T  which is probably one of the most fondly  remembered cars of all time.
For a small village in West Cork, namely Ballingeary, the older generation did indeed have fond memories of  the old model T . They  were one of the few villages in the area to have their very own registered  hackney service , which was owned by Mr. Jerimiah  (Jerry) Cotter in the village.
Fr. Browne
Jerry was born in 1914. He lived a very exciting and carefree childhood with  fond memories of growing up in Ballingeary

One  of his fondest is the day that Fr. Browne, the well known photographer visited the area  On this particular day Fr. Browne took many photos depicting the lives of  people living in rural Ireland in that period of time. After a quick chat with Fr. Browne ,Jerry was asked to stand for a photo .The year was 1925 and Jerry was 11 years of age. The picture was to become a classic and was entitled " Taking his first photo". The photo was seen in exhibitions all over Ireland in 1995/96 and is also included in the book "Father Browne 's Photography.
First Car
Jerry then made the "Local headlines " and gossip when he purchased his first car in 1932 at the tender age of 18 years . The car was bought from C.A.B. Motors  Co  Ltd , Copely  St. Cork, for the princely sum   £ 50       .
In the same year he registered the car for hackney and    towards the end  of the year he received his plate  and badge in Bandon .His badge number was 2868

From the very beginning Jerry had to get accustomed  to late night and early morning calls from everyone from locals to doctors and  Gardai. This was because Jerry was the only hackney service in the area.
Jerry was on 24 hour call by  the Southern  Health Board taking Doctors to patients  , and patients to clinics and hospitals. Many a night he had to combat dreadful weather conditions such as heavy snow, dense fog and floods to get his passengers to their required destination.
It was once quoted by local man Mr. Tim McCarthy  "That Gerry was there for nearly every child in the parish". Tim said that " He was there when they  were Born, Christened, when they received their Holy Communion, Confirmation  and their Wedding Day , What a record!!!!!!"

He did indeed attend many weddings  and    funerals and he also had many a story to tell about his days as the  local hackney driver.
One particular story that a lot  of people would remember is the night that he was travelling to a dance in Ballinvourney with an overloaded car ,as he approached the outskirts  of the village he was stopped by the local guard.   
As he rolled down the window of the car, it   was quiet visible to the guard that Jerry was well over loaded with over six in the car. The guard shone in his flashlight and  then said to him " I think you have one too many there Mr. Cotter"  To which   he replied in a confident and devious tone " Which one Guard? "
What could the Guard say ,he cautioned him and left him drive on.
In   his busiest period in the 1940's . He often had a number of trips in one day. Alot of his days consisted of a funeral in the morning , a clinic  appointment in the afternoon and maybe taking someone to the bus station in  Macroom in the evening.
During this time he was also on call 24 hours for anybody who needed him from the locals to  midwifery , Doctors and the Gardai
When  the "Feile Dramaiochta Na Mumhan " was held  annually in Ballingeary he was used to collect those who  would be judging the plays   He would collect them in Cork from the train station and he   would also drive them around locally during their stay.   He  became very friendly with all of the judges and one   particular  friend he made was  Seamus Healy  who is better known as father to Shay Healy  TV presenter and songwriter.
Because of the period of time, there was a  shortage of cars being used by the Gardai   so as I have mentioned before  Jerry was  on call for them .His car was their only  mode of transport
He was often called upon to drive the Gardai to poitin raids on local farms and to Court Cases in Macroom and in Cork.  When the rationing of the petrol  was  introduced ,He was issued with extra petrol to enable him  to continue service to both the Gardai,Southern Heath  Board and the public.
Sick Call
Another story he recalls  is the day he received a call from  the local priest to drive him to a sick call .They were to call to a house in  the  area  where  one of the children  was ill with meningitis.
As Jerry  was unfamiliar with that particular  house  they asked a local boy to show them the way and they explained to him that they were  visiting the  house  for a sick call.
When they had finished with their visit,  they waited for the young  helpful boy to sit in again to which he refused  they asked him again and he refused   claiming he " didn't want to catch the disease "  . He then proceeded to run after the car  all the ways down the road, until he reached his home. according to Jerry "He was so fit he could have  run for Ireland"
Jerry explains that this particular story  depicts the fear  the people of that time towards illness.

Many  stories could be told about Jerry 's  hackney days, fond memories relived  and many a laugh could be shared. Speaking to many most   recalled similar type tales  however one close friend  of Jerry's had a few extra.
One he told was the night that Jerry was taking a car load to a local dance as they drove on trying to make time, someone remarked that the car seemed to be travelling funny.
" Maybe it was a puncture ",  one of the passengers questioned Jerry.

The  passengers kept asking Jerry , what  was wrong so  to relax them he decided to stop the car and  check the tyres.  He proceeded around the car inspecting each  tyre , Then he calmly sat in and started up the car
As he looked back at  his passengers he was questioned once  again about the suspected puncture.
Jerry turned around and in his calm and convincing tone answered his concerned patrons with the comment " Its OK.....its only a little air coming out of one of the wheels"  and then  he continued to drive on to their  destination.
Sean also  had the story about the time Jerry picked up a passenger who spoke the whole journey about the books he had read and how educated he was . He went on to  ask Jerry what book he had read  recently to which Jerry answered  without hesitation , " The Far East".
An   additional  story told by Sean was the night that  Jerry  was again travelling to Ballyvourney . He had just fitted new v8 tyres to the car and they had been working out perfectly.
However as the people started to fill in to the car , ( and Jerry was overloaded again) the back mud guard started rubbing against the big wheel , everytime they took a turn.
Nobody let alone Jerry suspected anything was wrong until one of the passengers  ("Lisa Dans ")  coat started to take fire from the heat of the tyres rubbing of it. this was one  journey Jerry  would prefer to forget!!!!!!!

Finally I would like say to  Jerry or Dada as we know him , " we all love listening to your stories and we hope we will recall many more in the future with you."