Sep 21 2019


Published by at 10:21 am under News

My Aunt Rooie was originally registered at birth as Jane. She was born in 1915, in number 6 Elliott Place in the Monto, a house belonging to her Granny Doyle. Rooie was named after her Granny Coffey, Jane Somerville, whose family were Protestant and whose father was murdered by drowning in the Royal Canal, by a group of Fenians in Westmeath in 1883. Rooie’s mother’s neighbour, Annie Cowap, delivered the baby; Annie lived in number 10 Gloucester Place. When she was two years old Jane’s mother died while Jane’s father was off fighting in WWI. Her father later remarried but things didn’t work out with the stepmother and his children. Jane’s uncle, her mother’s brother, Sonny Doyle and his wife May, took in five of the six children and reared them as their own; the sixth child was taken in by another family. Jane was the baby of the family and grew up to be a very happy and contented child in such a loving home.
As a young girl she attended nearby Rutland Street School where she loved learning and especially singing. Jane’s older siblings always looked out for her and she became very close to her eldest and only surviving sister, Biddy, there was rarely a day in their lives that they didn’t see or talk to each other, right up to the end. Now, Rooie’s aunt, May Doyle was a very industrious type of woman who could make and sew anything on her hand worked sewing machine. She was very often given paid work by the Nun’s in nearby North William Street Orphanage. May would cut out and sew up little white pinafores for the orphan girls. Almost everyone in her neighbourhood came to May to have something or other sewn up or taken down.
On one particular occasion May was asked by a neighbour to sew up a set of brand new Net Curtains. It was on this particular day that Rooie arrived home early from work and told May that she had a boyfriend and that she’d like to bring him up later that evening to meet herself and Sonny. May was delighted of course but knew only too well that Rooie had been seeing some boy or other recently, like a lot of girls who fall in love; Rooie couldn’t help mentioning his name at every opportunity, thus giving the game away. May decided she would try and impress this young man and so she fixed the net curtains as quickly as she could and put them up on her own window.
Later that evening Rooie arrived at the flat with a young man on her arm named Alfie Kane, a young merchant seaman whose family lived in the area. After Alfie left later that evening May took the net curtains down again. Alfie Kane would often go away to sea for months on end and of course “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” with each passing day.
It became a regular thing for Alfie, when home on shore leave, to take Rooie to a nice restaurant in O’Connell Street as a treat; it was called the “Green Rooster”. This restaurant played such an important role in their courtship that Alfie started calling Rooie his “Little Rooster”, which eventually and over time became Rooie and that’s how she got that name. After a while everyone, including her family, began to call her Rooie and that was the name she settled on for the rest of her life.
Alfie eventually walked Rooie up the aisle in 1934, in the old tin church in Sean McDermot Street. They went on to raise a family of eight children. Whenever Alfie was away at sea Rooie could be heard, as she went about her housework, singing a song about her “Sailor Boy” far out on the ocean waves. The two men in the above photograph are her eldest brother Paddy Coffey and Alfie Kane. So now, there you have it, the story of my Aunt Rooie Kane and her strange name.


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