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Travelling through time: Grandmother’s trip to Ireland in 1952

Nan was born in Northern Ireland and moved to Perth in Western Australia at age 3. Her father, my great-grandfather, came down with a condition after World War I and was advised by his doctor to move to a warmer climate. Nan’s observations of the Irish and their culture during a visit to Ireland in 1952 fascinates me. Our experiences were very different. For one, Nan was reunited with  lot of family. I figure I must have family in Ireland too, but I wasn’t aware of them when I travelled to Ireland 50 years later. Secondly, the bathroom situation has drastically improved…

10th July 1952

Trip to Ireland came via Fishguard from London, by train through Wales coal fields – terrible looking country, some dust covered, though overnight trip on “Inasfallen” was quite pleasant. Met at Cork by Jr Bobbie, Aunty Margaret and Kit – much excitement and we called and had a drink at the Hotel Imperial Cork.

Arriving at Youghal stopped for a moment outside Seafield Phoduas where both Kitty and Crissie work. Kitty is very attractive and came out to the car to meet me. Next called Magners meeting Pat at the gate – he seemed bashful but I could immediately see a great likeness to Pelham [Nan’s brother]. Next met Uncle Will and Janice and later went down to Hurley’s meeting Crissie Siobian (Shaw-vaughn) also Eileen, all very attractive girls. Later met Uncle Dennis Hurley, Dick Keating, Shamus and Noel – then later Uncle Sonny and Uncle John.

The first week in Youghall was very much on the go. Went to Innesheen, Bandon, Ballineen, Dunmanway. Met people called Mansahan who run a shop – pretty dirty place too – very old people.

Everywhere you go in Ireland you see “donkeys”. They are grand little animals and do have a very definite cross on their backs, which, however is not noticeable on the dark coloured types.

Went to Limerick for a Hurley Match between Cork and Tipperary. There were about 45,000 people there and believe me it was a terrific crush. Limerick is 84 miles from Youghal and, as we arrived late, had to stand throughout the match. The crowd, mostly men, were a very mixed selection with a liberal smattering of the rough element and the swaying of the crowd really scared me. However, the game itself was fast and interesting to watch – a win for Cork was well fought for and there was much jubilation. The game, in some respects, is like rugby insofar that the ball goes in from side line to line of players at some stages and scrum like afairs seem to occur. Also, there is a touch line for scoring. After the game we had a terrible struggle to get through the crowd and then faced a long walk to the car, during this trek a man came along playing an accordion and all the people joined in singing Irish songs – it was a very bright end to the day’s game.

Nan's suitcase

We were met by friends of Bobbie’s – Eileen and Maureen – two sisters who are married to brothers and they invited us home to have a wash up and tea with them. They were two lovely girls with hearts of gold and made us so very welcome.

Returning home we were in need of a drink but it was after hours – so we called at a place known as “Morrison’s”, which is rather desolately situated out of town. All appeared in darkness but there were a few cars parked outside and on knocking on the door we were immediately admitted and shown to a room barely furnished and supplied with a kerosene lamp turned low and placed on the floor. Also, we were given a key and told to lock ourselves in – after of course being supplied with our refreshments. It was a most amusing interlude, which I’ll never forget.

I wanted to make a personal call and on enquiring from the young girl serving was lead through two dull-lit rooms in which seated round tables were people quietly drinking and smoking – their imaginations would not need to be too keen to guess where I was being lead, and, when arrived at the destination, all in the dark, to be given “a bucket” – what an experience and then lead back through the same rooms to our room where the three boys waited. I just laughed and laughed and informed them “I had now been educated”. They were very amused as they had a pretty good idea of what took place.

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