Feb 25 2020

“The Ma’ and Da’…”

Published by at 12:07 am under News

‘This is the day in 1954 when the Ma’ and Da’ went to the Isle of Man on a day trip, it must have been like a Honeymoon for them, without all their kids trailing behind like little ducks. They never had a Honeymoon when they got married in 1938, they didn’t have that luxury back then. It was into the Pro Cathedral in the morning for the wedding ceremony and then off to work with the two of them. They met up with family and friends later that evening for a few drinks. The Ma’ was eighteen and the Da’ was twenty three when they got married. She worked in Mitchell’s Rosary-bead factory in Waterford Street and the Da’ had a temporary job as a Bus Conductor in Clontarf Bus Garage. They moved in with my Granny in Cumberland Street flats until they got a place of their own over a Butcher’s shop in Parnell Street. Some Saturdays the Butcher used to give the Ma’ the off cuts of the meat he had left over. My Da’ had only recently left the British Army and was struggling like most men of that time to find permanent work. Then he got some Christmas work in the Postal Sorting Office.

My Da’ never knew that he had an older brother named William and an older sister named Agnes, they were born and died as infants before he was born and it was only in later years that I found this out in my searching through records. His father remarried and his wife gave birth to a little girl named Jane Catherine who was born very premature and died the following day. My Da’ never knew about her either, now isn’t that strange to think that? My Ma’ told me one time that people back then never spoke about the little babies and children that they had lost in infancy. My mother told me that babies who died years ago had to be brought by the father to Glasnevin Cemetery for buriel on a Saturday morning. I checked this out with an old grave digger who started working in Glasnevin when he was fifteen. He told me that he remembers a queue of men lining up outside the gates of the graveyard of a Saturday morning, some of them on their way to work, waiting to hand in their little bundle wrapped up in a white sheet or a small home-made wooden box. The Ma’ told me that the Da’ made two little such boxes for a neighbour of ours who had lost little twins. She remembered putting her arm around the mother of these little infants and trying to console her at her loss as they watched the Da’ and the baby’s father carrying a little box each up to the graveyard in Glasnevin.

When I look at this photo of the pair of them in the Isle of Man they look as though they hadn’t a care in the world. This is probably the first time as a married couple that they got to spend time together on their own. Do we ever know all the same what stories and experiences the older generation had to go through all those years ago? My Ma’ said that there was never a time in her life that she didn’t know my Da’ as they grew up in the same street. She used to write letters for families that had sons in the British Army and she’d always write a little note of her own to them letting them know how their Ma was doing and she did the same for my father’s family. When a letter would arrive back from the son all the neighbours were brought into the tenement room to hear my Ma’ reading it out for the family while they all sat around drinking tea and shedding tears because they missed him and were worried about him.

And that’s the way it was all those years ago when the Ma’ and Da’ took the boat over to the Isle of Man for a day trip, away from all of their worries and cares back home in Dublin in 1954…’

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