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.

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