Sunday, 25 November 2012

Windermere St



Tony and Catherine Corry came to Leicester in 1970. Tony was from Mullagh, Co. Clare and Catherine from Aughrim, Co. Galway. Tony worked on the railways and they came to Leicester because the houses were cheaper.

They lived on Windermere St. Tony's brother George, lived on Gotham St.

Thanks to Colin Hyde for the photos: East Midlands Oral History Archive

 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester or join The Irish in Leicester group on Facebook.
Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Mothers and Daughters



Handkerchief Installation: Irish Exile/Migration: Mothers and
Daughters by Sarah Strong . 2012 . copyright
 
During the early days of my blog I came across a request from artist Sarah Strong for women who would like to contribute to her latest work:

IRISH ARTIST SEEKS SUBJECTS Irish Exile/Migration; Mothers and Daughters. I was
 curious...


Artist Sarah Strong has an exciting opportunity for participants in her upcoming Artpiece.  She is looking for  women to submit photos of themselves with their mothers for a project called Irish Exile/Migration: Mothers and Daughters. I was interested...

This proposed artwork  will explore the relationship between  mothers and daughters and the complex emotions around separation; ambivalence and mourning; issues of yearning, loss, belonging/ not belonging, grief. This is work in process so that it is not possible to be definitive about the final outcome but my intention is use cloth, photographs and possibly film and sound. I was in!
Over the following months Sarah and I exchanged emails as she gathered details such as when my mother, Sarah Hill, left Dublin, where she left from, came to etc. I submitted a couple of photos, one as a child with my Mum and the one above. This has always been my favourite photo of us together; my Mum died in 2000 and I was really pleased that Sarah chose this one to work with.

As I have mentioned before in the blog, interviewing the Irish community here in Leicester has made me realise how few questions I asked of my own parents. Oh, I knew some details: came to Leicester because my Dad's sister lived here, there was work etc. but I don't recall ever asking "How did it feel?" I never asked her if she was scared, excited, lonely.

She first came over at 17 to stay with a uncle, Jim Ormsby, in Pershore, but went back home, met my Dad and came over to Leicester in the mid 1950s. I never asked how much she missed her own mother and her brothers and sisters.  Most where over here too, scattered around the Midlands and London but, of course, they didn't have the kind of contact we now enjoy and expect to have. No Facetime or Skype: letters came intermittently and we didn't get a phone put in till 1979!

This photo was taken one Christmas: I had been living in Bordeaux since the previous September and the photo shows just how much I had missed and loved her. My Dad had died in 1979 ( hence the phone) and ever since, me, my sister Sandra, her little daughter Lauren and my Mum had been this tight little knot of girls. I had actually left home at 19 to live in Bournemouth and can remember the heartbreak at leaving even though I knew I had to get away and do something different. Maybe she had felt the same. Even in Bordeaux, at age 30, there where times when I would  miss my family desperately but naturally, would just pick up the phone. I wished I'd asked her more but I suspect the answer would have been "Well, you just got on with it!"

I can't thank Sarah enough for the beautiful handkerchief above. When I opened the email I broke my heart as if my Mum had died yesterday. The final outcome is yet to be decided but I hope to be able to go to see it and thank her in person.

 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester or join The Irish in Leicester group on Facebook.
Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fosse Rd

Fosse Rd North Park
The Phelan family came over to London in 1959 with 8 boys and 3 girls, including Bernadette. Mum and Dad and the children lived in Holloway for a while and then moved to Greenwich.

They lived in Greenwich for about 18/20 years in total but, sadly, Mrs. Phelan died just before Bernadette’s 6th birthday and her dad had to bring up the family. It must have been very hard for him with all the kids: the older ones helped out most, but all of them helped out when they could. It was very much make do when they first went to Greenwich.

Bernadette remembers having to share a house with an old lady, Mrs. Mathews, who scared the life out of the little ones. They all lived in 2 rooms and the dining room was turned into the second bedroom at night. She says “Mum and Dad slept in the front room: it was like the bloody Waltons but now looking back very good times, but very hard.” She remembers keeping chickens in the back yard: the kids used to hate going out to the toilet because there was an old chicken they used to call Granny and it would fly at them as they tried to go to the toilet. When the kids were trying to eat, the chickens would come in the window and try to eat from the plate as well. She says” I swear to God that is why we all eat so fast now.”

Bernadette left home at 15 and went to live with one of her sisters in London and met her husband John Elliott who was working down there at the time. That was back in 1972. She had only known him 2 months when they got engaged and then came to Leicester where his family lived-she was 17. They lived with his mum for a couple of the weeks then moved into a bedsit on Fosse Road North: but all her family were still in London. 
Fosse Rd North
Her first job in Leicester was with an agency. Then she had a job in a card shop on Belvoir St. She only worked there about 8 months because she was having her first child. Her first was born when she was 17, the next when she was 19 and her last when she was 23.



Belvoir St.
 She stayed at home with all her kids: there were no hand outs then so her husband, John, used to do taxi work at night and building work a few days a week to keep them going. He has been self employed in the building for over 40 years. They used to go to the Palais and the Adam and Eve for their nights out when they could afford them, which was few and far between. They used to shop at a small supermarket on Fosse Road and remember getting 2 weeks shopping for £9.00 at Xmas time. They got the shopping like that at the time because the shops used to shut for days on end (but they could get milk and bread from the corner shop if they ran out).

She remembers going to Wickstead Park once with the brother in law’s kids when she was 8 months pregnant: she went on the kids' ride with her nephew and they had to stop the ride to let her off because it made her so bad.  "Talk about lose all street cred! "

Stuart St.
After Fosse Road they moved to a flat on Stuart St off the Narborough Road: it was a shared bath room then and she thinks the rent was £3.00. This flat was in the next street to where John’s mum and dad used to live.

After that they got a council place in Braunstone Frith that was newly built and they thought they had won the lottery. It was a 3 bedroom house “all that room after the bed sit”. The bed sit had been furnished so they had nothing of their own. They bought the kids’ beds and got theirs from his mum. She remembers they only had one chair which they took turns to sit on while watching the TV. Then they bought a house on Liberty Road where they lived for 10 years. It was a 3 bed room semi but they did it up and made 4 bedrooms. While all the work was being done they lived in the garden: they had a caravan and 2 large tents to live, sleep and eat in. They had the 3 girls and a dog at the time. The garden was 150 foot long and the cooker was in the house so when it was dinner time it was a dash to the house and back with the dinners. She only had the cooker and an upturned box to get the meals ready but they had some fun while they were doing the house up. Her father-in-law took ill so they were going to Kettering hospital and back to see him.

One night they didn't get back until 1.30am and it was pouring down, they both had had enough of it all and just stood in the garden singing “Rain drops keep falling on my head” but they had a good laugh. They were there 10yrs and then bought another house to do up. They lived there for another 10 and then they moved to Glenfield where they have been for 7 years.

Bernadette only went back to work when all the kids were in full time school and worked at New Parks (which is now New College) in the kitchen. She worked for 1½ hours a day to start with but after about a year she got full time hours in Forest Lodge Primary School where she has been ever since, that’s 28 years .

She says “My first wage at Forest Lodge was £2.10 per hour until we got our pay rise a couple of years back. “My hourly rate was £6.40 an hour.I used to ring up management and tell them I did not want a pay rise cause every time they got a pay rise of say half a per cent we were always worse off ‘cause they used to cut our hours down. I once worked it out from starting until the pay rise I got the grand total of 24 pence per YEAR pay rise. I told the managers to keep it and leave us alone with our hours. I have my old hours in the office even now-what a joke!”
They have been married 39 years. “I don’t know where the time goes (could have got less for murder).“ They have 3 daughters and 5 grandkids. Her youngest is a child minder so they have lots of kids calling them Nan and Grandad which is funny at times because they are all nations. Some people do look when they are all shouting when they are going home.  Bernadette has worked for the council for 28 years now, all that time cooking school meals


Thanks to Colin Hyde for the photos. East Midlands Oral History Archive

 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester or join The Irish in Leicester group on Facebook.
Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 2 November 2012

From There to Here



Today has been a great day. Today we have completed and uploaded our film, "From There to Here". This film will introduce you to many of the Irish you will have met on the blog and more besides. It charts their journey from over there to over here, telling why the Irish came to Leicester in the first place, where they lived and how they found work, love and a future in the City of Leicester.

A huge thanks to Dan Ashman for the filming and editing, to Colin Hyde for the use of equipment, film and interview tips and of course, the Emerald Centre for the unending support for this piece of work.


If you are interested in other Oral History projects please contact Colin Hyde or go to the EMOHA channel on YouTube.

Colin Hyde
East Midlands Oral History Archive
Centre for Urban History
University of Leicester
LE1 7RH
Tel: 0116 2525065
Website: www.le.ac.uk/emoha/


 If you'd like to tell your own family's story contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

St Leonard's Rd.

Alice McCreesh outside the Victoria Park cafe.


Alice McCann came over to Leicester in 1957. Her boyfriend, Gerry McCreesh, was already over here working on the building with his two brothers.Alice and Gerry were both from South Armagh. Alice was 17 ½ and Gerry was 25. Although there was a bit of an age gap Gerry was a neighbour and the families knew each other well. 
.
As they were not yet married Alice first shared a house with Donegal people in Leicester. She had gone to the Tourist Information office looking for accommodation and they’d given her a list to choose from. One advert said “Irish preferred” so that made up her mind! The house was on St. Peter’s Rd and she shared a room with 2 Donegal girls and shared a bed with one of them. While she was living here she worked first at Woolworths and then at John Bull. 

“You could look in the Leicester Mercury and have your pick of the jobs.”

Gerry was living on Lower Hastings St and they went home to Armagh to get married in 1959.

Gerry McCreesh working on Newmarket St near The Craddock.




After they were married they lived together in a top floor flat on Saxby St: it had a living room, bed room, kitchen and bathroom and they paid £2 a week. Their eldest child, Caroline, was born while they were living here. Alice remembers dances at St Peters where they had great bands. However they didn’t have dances on a Sunday night like they did at home and this made her very homesick.

Alice and Caroline at De Montfort Hall Gardens
For a while in the 1960s, Alice worked with Etta Grady selling tea towels, mist clothes soaps etc on behalf of the blind and disabled. The work was door to door, 6-9 in the evenings: they were paid £3 a week but had to, at least, sell that amount of stuff. After that they were on commission. 

“We would call to the council houses at the weekend, when they had money, and the private ones in the week.

St Leonard's Rd
 Alice and Gerry later moved to St. Leonards Rd. Their 3 children Caroline, Collette and Barry went to St. Thomas Moore school and then to English Martyrs.

Caroline McCreesh (left) and her friend making their Holy Communion at St. Thomas Moore's school.
Barry McCreesh (left) and his friend making their Holy Communion at St. Thomas Moore's school.
 As Leicester got bigger new shops began to pop up. Alice especially remembers Brierly's on Belgrave Gate which was the first of the "pile 'em high" type shops that we are so used to now.


For more pictures of Alice see Victoria Park

 If you'd like to tell your own family's story contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Border Drive

William Patrick O’Keeffe (known as Bill) from Birr, County Offally came to Leicester in 1956 and stayed with his sister Kathleen.


Kathleen already lived in Leicester at the bottom of Border Drive, Mowmacre Hill. Bill’s mum was over too, also living with Kathleen, along with two brothers Eugene (known as Paddy). The other brother, Bob, followed soon after.

Bill’s father, also called William, was a barber by trade and had died when Bill was just 11. Bill’s mum, also called Kathleen, was a District nurse and as she was out a lot working the elder sister, Kathleen, became a mother figure to the children. The Irish would call such young girls who behaved like a grown up ‘Buddy’.  She is still today known in the family as Aunty Bud.

The children remember their Dad saying he was told”Boots or no boots, you’re going to school! ” - there were no excuses.

Bill had been in the Irish Army and had also worked as a mechanic, a trade he learnt in the army. When he came to Leicester he worked as a bus driver for Midland Red Buses.

Joanie O'Keffe, Border Drive.
Joan Elaine Carlisle, known as Joanie, came to Leicester in 1956 from Nagpur in India to stay with her eldest sister Eileen who was already here living with her young family at 80 Border Drive, Mowmacre Hill.

Joan’s father had been adopted and changed his surname to that of his birth mother, Mary Carlisle.  Joan’s mother was of Dutch descent.

Joan and Bill met one night at the Palais de Dance. In those days men and women would stand on either side of the dance hall: the women waiting for the men to ask them to dance. Joan has spotted William and turned several fellas down before he plucked up the courage to ask her. It was only when he walked her home that they realised they both lived on the same street!

She next saw him getting off the bus they were both on and prodded him in the back with her umbrella to get his attention. Bill didn't sat much when they first met so Joanie thought he was the silent type. Actually he was a bit embarrassed as girls didn't usually understand his Irish accent!

They were both Catholic and got married in 1959 at Our Lady’s Church on Moira Street. They were both well educated: Joan worked as a secretary at the tax office, and later as a medical, then, legal secretary.
The new Mr. and Mrs.O'Keefe
Although from an Anglo-Indian background, Joan embraced Bill’s Irish culture and was known for her fantastic curries and Irish coffees. When they moved up to Stonesby Avenue the kids remember people coming round after a night out at The Eyres Monsell club, their Dad rolling back the rugs and everyone enjoying a good dance.

After they were first married Bill went back home for work and Joan and their two sons, William John (known as Billy) and Paddy stayed with Joan’s sister, Eileen.
The plan was for Bill to call the family back home but things changed and he came back to England instead.
Bill and Billy, Border Drive.
 The family then moved into a flat on Clarendon Park Rd where their third child, Suzanne was born. Their landlord was a Mr Singh.

Just before their fourth child Jacqui, was born they moved to Stonesby Avenue, Saffron Lane. Four years later the family was complete when Siobhan was born.

Bill was reinstated on the buses on his return to England. However he later picked up his old trade of mechanic and worked for Hanger’s Motors on Welford Rd where Homebase now stands. In 1979 he began working for himself at 503 Saffron Lane, next to Burrows and Smiths.
Tom Cullen and Bill O'Keefe, 88 Stonesby Avenue.

All the children attended the new Holy Cross School on Stonesby Avenue in the 70s, where they all made their Holy Communion. Suzanne O’Keefe was in the same class as Marie Byrne. Jacqui was in the same class as Helen Considine and Billy played football with Helen’s brother Timmy. Billy O’Keefe was in the same class as Sandra Callaghan and remembers John Mullholand and Mick Tansey.  Along with the above, other family friends include the Brady’s, the Tyrell’s, the O’Hara’s and the Dempsey’s.

The family knew the Silks, Josie and Tom and the children, and Tom built the extension on their house on Stonesby Avenue.

Their mixed race background was still quite unusual in the 70s and Billy remembers being called” Double Dutch Paddy Pakki “ by other kids.

Billy and Paddy were altar boys at St John Bosco and Suzanne later married her husband Mark Porter there in1981.

Billy and Suzanne remember that if you danced on the bar at St Pat’s club you’d get a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps.

Billy now has a son of his own, named William Michael (known as Will).
All 3 generations of Williams uncannily have birthdays on the 22nd of the month:
William Patrick, January 22: William John, May 22 and William Michael, August 22!


If you know any of the other people mentioned in the O'Keefe story please get in touch and tell us about it. If you'd like to tell your own family's story contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

RIP Cathleen


Cathleen and her husband , Don Nolan.

Yesterday was a sad day for The Irish in Leicester: we said goodbye to the lovely Cathleen Nolan.
Cathleen was one of the first people I interviewed for this blog. She willingly agreed to help me and turned up with more photos and stories that I could possibly use here. She had been born around the corner from my own mother in The Liberties, Dublin, and there was more than a bit of me that hoped she might remember Sarah Hill, or more likely her younger sisters. Cathleen went by many names and "Kitty"  Nolan, as I liked to call her, was the name of one of my aunties, so one away or another I felt a connection with her.

She was lively and charming, a singer and a dancer: clearly a beauty in her day and a handsome woman right up to the day she died. She had an eye for clothes and fashion and would often comment on the cut of my coat, the length of a skirt or the turn of a heel. She will be sadly missed.

Cathleen with her own photo on the Ipad.
Read Cathleen and Don's story here.

If you'd like to tell your family's story contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Callaghan: No. 43 most popular Irish surname



Finally my name has appeared in the 100 most popular Irish names. No. 43: at least it's in the top 50!

www.youririshfamily.com says Callaghan...

" .. was traditionally taken to mean 'frequenter of churches', but is now thought to be a much older word meaning 'bright-headed'."

I'll take the older meaning thank you. Do we really just hear what we want to hear?

Of the many Callaghan images available I've chosen this one because it doesn't have all the heraldic symbolism, suits of armour etc. Despite the historic bloody battles and feuds I''ll just take a wolf passing through the trees.

Thanks to www.youririshfamily.com for their continuing information.

If you'd like to tell your family's story ontact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Slums of Leicester

Last Friday I went along to Beaumont Leys Library to hear a talk by local historian Ned Hewitt on The "Slums of Leicester". I'd already had this book out of the library and had shared it with the Irish Elders at The Emerald Centre. ( Ironically it was sitting in the back of my car with a £3 overdue fine while I was listening to Ned this morning!).

Upper Conduit St. 1966: I think my old house is the one on the right.
The talk focussed on slum clearance from the 19century up to the 1970s and often referenced streets that very few people knew or had heard off. But as he came closer to our contemporary history  we began nodding our heads and reminiscing.

As fascinating as the local history aspect was I was more interested in the emotional investment we have in the places we once lived in. My first question to Ned was " How do you define a slum" because I know that I had felt very defensive about the area I grew up in being defined that way. My friend, who had grown up around Orchard, Wilton, Royal East St, had gone along intending to tell Ned, in no uncertain terms, that her family most definitely HAD NOT lived in a slum!

What was clear to me that there was a great sense of pride and identity around the room in those courtyards and streets which were overlooked by filthy factories, had outside toilets and sometimes very little light. I'm not romanticising the poverty or the overcrowding. Those properties became slums through landlord neglect, poor planning and the political will to change no matter who got in the way: some of the pictures in the book are shocking but not everyone lived like that and many people in the audience remembered  a great sense of community and neighbourliness.
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The large Irish wave of immigration that came after the Great Famine settled around Wharf St.

Wharf  St. 1966
 "The Irish settled in Green St. - perhaps attracted by the name - and of course, the neighbouring streets. They would naturally cling to one another, though often at variance. Contention is better than solitude says a Celtic proverb, and Celts are not the only people that hate each other for the love of God. Those that could not get navvying and farm work took to "chip-chopping, mat-making," and "swag". A swag basket is a hawker's basket, and is filled with tapes, matches, cottons, laces, buttons, pins and so forth.The more thrifty took larger houses and began to lodge the new arrivals and the greenceens. ( raw recruits come over for the harvest)" Tom Barclay. The Wyvern. 1895.

Upper Conduit St. 1966, a couple of years after we had been moved out to Eyres Monsell.

The Slums of Leicester: Edited by Ned Hewitt.

Thanks to Dennis Calow at Vanished Leicester for the old photos.Vanished Leicester is part of a fantastic resource, My Leicestershire , which is part of The East Midlands Oral History archive 

If you'd like to tell your family's contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

The General Hospital


Julia Sullivan, known as Shelia, came to Leicester on Sept 13, 1955. She already had two sisters here: one was working as a nanny for an English family and the other, Eileen, was married to an Englishman, Eamon Snee.

Julia was one of eight children and the youngest of six girls. She was educated at the Convent school back home in West Kerry and longed to pursue her interest in horses. However, her father felt it was not a career befitting a convent educated girl and expected her to get something better.

When she first came to Leicester she lived with her married sister on Duxbury Rd, off Uppingham Rd and later moved into nurses’ accommodation at The General Hospital on the outskirts of the city near Evington. 

The General Hospital, Gwendolen Rd.

Coming from the country at home she loved living on the outskirts of town, as it was then, and hearing the animals and horses in the morning. The new Goodwood Estate had been built but not yet around the General Hospital where you could still see working farms.

Shelia earned £7/17/6d a month and the highlight of the month  was going to Brucciani’s on Horsefair St. for coffee and cherry cake. She could also buy a new skirt in M+S for 29/11d and a blouse for £1!

She loved to go dancing at the “Irish venues”: Sacred Heart, The Co-op Belgrave Rd, The Trade Hall  St. James’ St., St. Peter’s parish hall on King Richard’s Rd and the Corn Exchange (which she remembered didn’t have a bar). And of course there was always De Montfort Hall on St. Patrick’s night. She and the other nurses would search the drawers for odd 3d. bits at home to give them the money to get in to the dances. 

Sheila belonged to the Pioneer Association, a Catholic temperance group, and she had taken a pledge not to drink. She kept this till she was 23 when at a nurse’s party she held onto the same drink all night so that the others wouldn’t keep on at her!.

The nurses had an English lady, May, who looked after them in the nurses' home and lived on St. Saviours Rd. She treated them all well and the girls would bring her back presents from Ireland when they went home. Sheila remembers May having a particular present from Ireland with Irish writing on it that said…Made in Japan!

One year there was a polio epidemic back home in the National schools and Shelia’s mother told her not to go home for the annual holiday in September. Sheila was given permission to take her holiday ay Christmas which was unheard of. She travelled back with another nurse, Mona Carey from County Clare, and turned up at Holyhead without a ticket and had to wait two days with no food to get a ferry home. When she arrived in Dublin she was due to stay with another nurse, Marie before carrying on home to Kerry the next day. This arrangement fell through and Marie arranged for Sheila to stay with a blind friend. Sheila spent a long night worrying if the friend would be able to wake her up on time in the morning….. which of course she did!

Sheila says that most people at home in West Kerry were self sufficient and lived a much better life that the city people: city life in Leicester was new to her and she had never had chips or seen a Brussel sprout!

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Work places

Just a few  places ( where photos allow) that The Irish in Leicester have worked in over the years...
Tommy Holt

Briggs Tannery.
Thanks to Dennis Calow at Vanished Leicester

Biggs Tannery.
Thanks to Dennis Calow at Vanished Leicester

ChrisMaloney


British Shoe Corporation. Thanks to http://www.geograph.org.uk









Foxes Glacier Mints




Sheila Sullvan
The General Hospital. Thanks to http://www.renal.org/

Dunlop building. Thanks to movehut.co.uk
Northbridge Engineering. Thanks to pankl.com






The Hillcrest hospital. Thanks to http://www.fapgene.com/hillcrest
The Towers Hospital. Thanks to http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/


Patricia Morton
Imperial Typewriters. Thanks to http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Chris Conlon

The collieries of Ellistown.
Norren Jones

Cherub's.Thanks to Colin Hyde.

Thanks to Colin Hyde for the photos: East Midlands Oral History Archive

Vanished Leicester is part of a fantastic resource, My Leicestershire , which is part of The East Midlands Oral History archive 
If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Moran

After a summer away from blogging I'm encouraged back by a tweet today from

I love their regular posts about the 100 most popular Irish surnames and always retweet them, hoping that someone out there sees their own family name. I've seen names that remind me of primary school: Cunningham, Cullen, Barry, Foley, Kenny, O'Keefe and names of those that I've been lucky enough to meet in their later years through The Emerald Centre here in Leicester: Higgins, Brady. Of course what I'm waiting for is my name and today I got a little closer.

When my parents came over, Paddy Callaghan/Sarah Hill, they came to Leicester because my Dad's sister was here, Greta Callaghan/Tommy Holt. Tommy Holt had an aunty here Annie King/John Moran and today MORAN showed up as the 56th most popular Irish surname!

My sister and I have very English names, Lynda and Sandra. I understand, now, that giving us those names was part of assimilating into a new country and culture but as I child I desperately wanted to be called something like Bernadette: something that would seal my identity as Irish. (By my confirmation though, I was clearly developing my "where do I belong" internal crisis and chose Lucy as my confirmation name!). 

Callaghan, however, could not be mistaken for anything else but Irish and I loved it. My Dad's full name was Patrick Joseph Callaghan and I couldn't have been more proud.

Grandma Callaghan, left, and my Dad, Patrick Joseph Callaghan.

In those days it was assumed that all us girls would dutifully marry and change our names and I can remember trying out other surnames and worrying that if I married an Englishman all traces of my Irishness would be lost: Lynda Jones? Lynda Smith? I couldn't bear the thought. 

Of course, for a while we had Jim Callaghan as Prime Minister so thankfully, everyone could spell my name.  (Dirty Harry Callahan just confused things).These days it's back to spelling it out every time and correcting the various versions that come in by post and email.

So I'll continue to look forward to the next post from the 100 most popular Irish surnames, thrilled that a name within my family circle has appeared but secretly pleased that my own will appear higher up the scale  (I hope!)


Find out more about the name MORAN and look through for your own at Your Irish Family 
Read more here about Greta Callaghan/Tommy Holt and Annie King/John Moran  and their early lives in Leicester.

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.



Monday, 16 July 2012

Tichbourne St



Peggy Brady came over from Co. Derry, N. Ireland with her friend Patricia Bradley in May 1956. Patricia’s brother was already living in Leicester and they got rooms where he lived on Tichbourme St. They got work straight away at Imperial typewriters and soon made friends but Peggy remembers missing home and her family. 


 Patricia Bradley later met and married Eamon Morton and they lived on Hobart St. To read her story click here.

Thanks to Kiran Parma for the photos of Imperial Typewriters. For more industrial photos of Leicester see his photostream on flickr.

Thanks to Colin Hyde for the photos of Tichbourme St: East Midlands Oral History Archive


If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 13 July 2012

St Patrick's Church and Club.

This account of a St Patrick's day procession and the good times to be had around the Royal East St/Abbey Steet area comes from a lovely member of the Irish community in Leicester.


The day was March 17th 1935 and a St. Patrick’s flag waved proudly over the mean, close pack of streets surrounding St. Patrick’s Church, Royal East St. Oh, the magic in the air as the crowd swirled around before entering church for the special St. Patrick’s day mass. Carr’s button factory, on the opposite side of Royal East St, had allowed any Irish the day off and the rest of the workforce peeped out of the doorways and available windows, interested and excited by the patriotic fervour across the way.

I was seven at the time and had been diligently practicing the Kyrie, the Agnus Die and the Sanctus in Latin. I was a proud member of the choir; dressed in a green velvet dress and matching green beret made by my aunt. I definitely still remember the magic of it all: the whole day was filled with feasting, drinking, of course, and music that lives with me forever.
 
My mother was a fine singer and “Kathleen Mavorneen” was her special song. My Dad’s cousin Martin was steward at the club: his special song was “Irish Manufacture” the story of a salesman going around promoting Irish goods. Granny had two special songs: “The hat my father wore” and “If I had the wings of a swallow”. At St Patrick's club, Paul’s regular was “County Armagh”: Peggy’s: “The Croppy Boy.”


 We lived and breathed Irish culture as children and knew every song from “Mistral Boy” to “The Old Bog Road.”



Though a mixture of nationalities inhabited the surrounding area, the Irish and the feel of Ireland were predominant. One priest, a Father Parle, was beloved by the whole population in that area. A big strapping Irishman in his prime, and a rugby player, he organised the May and June processions through the streets of Leicester carrying the Blessed Sacrament under a canopy up to the Town Hall square where he would conduct Benediction. Sadly he died suddenly, only in his thirties. The whole area went into mourning regardless of religion; the crowds surrounded the area weeping.

This area around Royal East St./Abbey St. was peopled first by a trickle of Irish immigrants fleeing the famine and then onwards through the lean times in Ireland in the 20s, 30s and 40s.
At this time Leicester was a prosperous city, renowned for its cleanliness and its variety of manufacturing, particularly hosiery and shoes. Even in those days, Corahs and Wolsey were known world wide so Irish immigrants had no trouble finding work and were diligent and prized by their employers.
St Patrick's school, Royal East St.

On the social side, a parish hall was added to the side of the school and church in Royal East St. which was eventually licensed and became the St. Patrick’s club.

The club became the mecca of the newly arrived immigrants over the years. Here they felt at home and everyone knew everyone so the area retained and embellished its Irishness.

As the years rolled by new Catholic churches were built and the social life of the Irish in Leicester widened out. St. Joseph’s had its parish priest, Father Leahy, who organised the building of a huge church on the site of a stable on the corner of Goodwood/Uppingham Rd: he always drew great crowds to his dances.

Mr. Joseph Willis ran an Irish dance on Saturday or Sunday nights at the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate. Sacred Heart Hall was also a popular venue.

Meanwhile, when the old St. Patrick’s church school was closed the old club was replaced by a new one facing the, now widened Abbey St. and St Margaret’s bus station. The new bus station replaced all those terraced houses and mean streets that once bustled with life that today’s citizens could never compete with. There was faith, love, loyalty, neighbourliness and tolerance that today’s Leicester would never understand. Irish humour lay over all.

For more about this lady's life in Leicester click: Garden StSt. Patrick's school, Royal East St., Wharf St
Click here for more about St. Patrick's club, Abbey St  and here for other mentions of  the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Monday, 2 July 2012

More holidays...

Digging a bit deeper after the last post about holidays I came across these photos. I don't know where they're taken exactly but the Scarborough/Torquay sign shows they were at least in England. I'm assuming they are taken before any kids were born ( Sarah and Rita had me and my cousin Gary at around the same time in 1957) and captures a beautiful day out at the seaside. In the days before phones at home, my Mum and her sisters kept in touch by letter and this is my Mum and Dad with her sister Rita and her husband John. Rita and John had come over to England to live in London where John had a job on the buses.

Paddy and Sarah Callaghan, Rita and John Duffy.
Paddy and Sarah Callaghan, Rita and John Duffy.

Uncle Jim ( Ormsby), John Duffy and Paddy Callaghan
 Uncle Jim, my Mum's uncle, had been over for quite a while and lived in Pershore where my Mum first went to when she was 17. ( I remember he drove a Reliant Robin that we squeezed into when he came to visit!). For me these pictures demonstrate those links that keep all families together: I don't know how often they would see each other but were all Irish abroad, having left family at home to start a new life here.


Paddy and Sarah Callaghan, John and Rita Duffy.
Sarah and Paddy Callaghan
This picture perhaps gives the strongest clue as to where they were taken. Does anyone recognise the rows of houses in the background?


To read more of Sarah and Paddy Callaghan's story click here.

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Holidays

For most of us second generation Irish kids here in Leicester, I imagine our main holiday was simply going "home": ours certainly was. My memory is of glorious summers spent at my maternal grandmother's in Carmen's Hall, Dublin. She was the strong matriarch that held the family together and who everybody in the family called Mother.

In my mind's eye the journey over was long and dark: the sea rough and the floors of the ferry strewn with sleeping bodies. I remember being amazed to see priests and nuns out doing "normal" things like queuing to get on the boat and even more so when they threw up like the rest of us!

By the time we woke up on our first morning the English kids would be covered in hives. The milk? The butter? The water? Who knew? My Mam and her sisters would have all gone home at the same time and brought their kids with them.We would all be staying at Mother's, topped and tailed in beds and fighting for space. She'd sit us up on the worktop at night and douse us with Calamine lotion to stop the itching and the house would be full of little, chalky figures running around trying to avoid going to bed!

We only ever went on a "proper" holiday once and that was to a caravan park in Corton. I had no idea where this was except that it was east and by the sea. I've literally just looked it up on Google to see that it's a few miles north of Lowestoft. I remember talent contests, a working men's club, Mam and Dad smiling and relaxing together. I know I was terrified of earwigs getting into my ears ( I had yet to discover the joys of camping!)

I was too young to realise that the East coast was the default holiday destination for many people in Leicester. Many factories and shops would shut down for the July fortnight and off they'd go. I imagine the  photos below are typical of the Irish in Leicester on that coast.


Chris Conlon and family in  Skegness

Chris Conlon and daughter, Christine, in Skegness
Judith Hubbard with Mum and siblings at Mablethorpe.
A few years later in a caravan  with parents, brothers and sisters at Mablethorpe.






What are your holiday memories?

Read more of Chris Conlon's story .
Read more of Judith Hubbard's story

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
The Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester. LE5 OTB

We're now also on Twitter: follow me on  @irishleicester

Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.