Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Not silver surfers but green!

Kitty Nolan showing a photo of herself and her family on Myrtle Rd.
Off to The Emerald Centre today for more tales from the wonderful Lunch Club.
As part of the launch for this blog I borrowed a set of Ipads and had the crowd, and guests, searching the internet for their stories and photos. They took to the technology amazingly well and were soon into Flickr and Google maps!

Deidre and Babby Rafter and their Ipad: revisiting their house on Haddon St.






Mary Warrener showing where she lived on Homefield Rd, Sileby in 1968.

 Click through here for more photos of the fabulous launch and the amazing Irish 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

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

Monday, 26 March 2012

BBC Radio Leicester



My Dad, Paddy Callaghan.




If you were listening to Radio  Leicester today you may have heard me talking about my blog, The Irish in Leicester.  I had contacted them, sure that there would be an audience for our work over here at The Emerald Centre: and of course there is.


As you'll hear me say, my story is your story. And our story is the story of many, many immigrants who have come to this country and beyond.

The interview was part of a 3 hr programme so you'll want to listen in around 2hrs 9mins to 2hrs. 20.

Click here to listen again to  BBC Radio Leicester, The Irish 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

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

Friday, 23 March 2012

Highfields

 


And the connections keep coming....

Today I will be having lunch with Penny Walker who, with a local residents association, HART , has just started a community history project in South Highfields, called We Are South Highfields. The area they are looking at goes from Conduit Street to London Road  up to Evington Road to East Park Road up to St. Peter's Road, Sparkenhoe Street and back to Conduit Street.)

Those streets will be familiar to many Irish in Leicester who found rooms and lodgings there when they first came over. The image above is linked to an interactive map; each pin represents a member of the Irish community and their families. Click any pin to discover a little more about where we lived.

Who do you know? Who do you recognise? Who have you found after years of losing touch?

Let me know where your family lived and put them on the map!

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

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

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Victoria Park



Car park entrance, top of Regent Rd/Granville Rd.

 From where I lived on Upper Conduit St,Victoria Park seemed a long way away and I actually have no memory of going there at all as a child. But the pictures below show how well used and important it was to many of the Irish community living in Highfields. The classic "lungs of the city" Victoria Park was originally a racecourse, (doesn't that make sense!) and New Walk was laid out partly to provide access to it from the town.

My secondary school was Collegiate Girl's on College St and I would often go up to the park with friends during the dinner hour (or even during lessons). I later went to Leicester University and lived on Clarendon Park Rd where Vicky Park became an integral part of my everyday life.

Josie Silk with Martin and Gabrielle.
What do you remember of Victoria Park?
Did it give you that space and time to forget the mines, the buildng sites, the factories and the offices?
Did it give your children that precious green space to run free?


Greta Holt
If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
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Sunday, 18 March 2012

St. Patrick's rosette


With St. Patrick's day over for another year I found myself remembering what  it used to be like for me as a child. Like many of us, my grandparents lived in Ireland: both sets in Dublin. I'd see them in the summer, when along with aunties, uncles and cousins, we all went Home. They occasionally came to Leicester but in general there was very little contact.

Shortly before the big day small boxes would arrive through the post. (I remember them as the kind of small boxes you get pieces of wedding cake in.). The boxes were printed with tiny shamrocks with the "foreign" Irish stamps and you knew it was the package from Home. Inside we'd find sprigs of bright green shamrock that we'd  wear proudly, with our St. Patrick's rosettes and our green dresses to school on March 17. Almost everyone at Sacred Heart school would be wearing the same that day: all belonging to the same, seemingly all encompassing, group of The Irish in Leicester.

What are your memories of St. Patrick's Day?



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

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

Friday, 16 March 2012

Jermyn St

Chris Moloney was born in County Limerick and came to Leicester in 1964. He had been working in London “in the shoe” but had two children and was looking for somewhere better to live. He was on 3 housing waiting lists in London and was trying to buy a house in Luton when his boss persuaded him to talk to the Company Director. At the time he worked for Curtis Shoes which, along with 6 other companies, was about to become part of the British Shoe Company and Chris was offered a job in Leicester.

He looked at buying a Jelson house off Braunstone Lane, with the promise that it would be ready by Xmas that year. It was not ready until March so the company set him up with temporary accommodation in Jermyn St, off Melton Rd and his wife, Kay, and the children joined him later. This was a shared terraced house and the family had access to the upstairs floor through a front corridor. BSC may have paid the rent for a couple of months to get them started and gave him £750 moving allowance.He only intended to stay in Leicester for a few months but the housing situation made it an attractive proposition. He remembers the lady downstairs offering to babysit so that he and Kay could go out and they went to see the Sound of Music at the pictures!




 He worked long hours and caught a bus into town to get the work’s bus up to the new factory at Leicester Forest East. The original BSC building had been built to provide work for the young women of New Parks and Braunstone He didn’t have the time to get to the barbers but remembers having a good crew cut that would last a while, somewhere near the Clock Tower.

Kay did know a little a bit about Leicester before they came up: she had come over from Leamington Spa and knew that Leicester had a Speedway and Banger racing. She worked as A Nursing Auxiliary at the Royal Infirmary at weekends and was working at Foxes Glacier Mints, Oxford St. when they moved up to Braunstone.

Chris would go back to London every 6 weeks to see friends.The M1 was still a dual carriageway and only reached as far as Luton. He remembers his 4 yr. old son calling it “Stinky London” and so decided that the family would stay in Leicester. They finally moved to the new Jelson Estate and have lived there for 22 years.

Chris remembers tea dances at The Grand Hotel.
He is a life member of the Braunstone Victoria Working Men’s club.
In the 70s Chris acted as an agent for a transport agency. He would be helping up to 3 families a week to move back home, mainly to Mayo and West Cork.
Mrs. Walsh ran a licensed boarding house, 47-49 Highfield St, facing the Catholic Club

Chris and Kay’s children went to Christ the King and Winstanley.
His grandchildren go to English Martyrs.

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

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

Monday, 12 March 2012

St. Peter's Rd

 
Nora Barry was from Tralee, County Kerry and went to London in 1955 as she had relatives there. While she was there she worked at British Home Stores. When she came to Leicester she worked in Woolworths.

She first lived in a room on St. Peter's Rd, then a room on New Walk. By then she had two kids, Terry and Anne, and got a house on Slawson St, finally moving to Saffron Lane area.Terry went to school with Lynda Callaghan at the new Holy Cross on Stonesby Avenue.. He later went to Gateway and Ann went to English Martyrs

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

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Kimberley Rd



Josie Silk (nee Doran) first went to Eastbourne, Sussex to do her nurse training and stayed for a couple of years. She and her boyfriend had split up but he came to England looking for her and they decided to give it another go. They went back to Dublin to get married in 1955. Going home to get married proved that she wasn’t pregnant! 

Josie’s husband Tom, from Galway, worked in the building: there was plenty of work in Leicester at the time so they decided to stay. Josie worked at the Towers Hospital and they first lived in rooms at 127 East Park Rd. She remembers the landlord nagging them about not using too much electricity. They then moved to 35 Kimberley Rd. They were considering buying a house on Mayfield Rd for £2000 but were also on the council list and a house came up in Eyres Monsell.

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

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

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hartington Rd



Danny Sweeney came from Co. Donegal and first left Ireland for Britain in 1947 spending time in Scotland and Lancashire. He came to Leicester in 1950 with a fellow he had been working with on an American Airbase up North.

This friend had a sister here, on Mere Rd, and he stayed with them for a while. Not long after he moved into 68 Melbourne Rd where he lodged and worked in the construction business

He met his wife-to-be, Mary Grimes, in Leicester at St. Peter’s Hall dance. Mary was from Castlebar, Co. Mayo and her sister, Lily was married to Joe Cusack.

Danny and Mary married at Sacred Heart church in 1952 and lived at 8 Hartington Rd.

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

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Haddon St



Deidre Wrafter (nee Poutch) came from Dublin and came to Leicester with her, then, boyfriend Bobby in 1955. Bobby had been working for the Post Office in Dublin and Deidre was working too. So although they both had jobs they were young and wanted to come over anyway. Bobby knew someone who’d already come here as there was plenty of work in Leicester.

They first lived in Laurel Rd, then 37 Severn St and then 66 Haddon St. This was their first mortgage and Deidre’s mother gave them the £50 deposit for the house which cost them £900 to buy. They paid £7 a month mortgage and £7 per half year rates. Deidre remembers that the solicitors were Stewart, Parish and Freeman and they paid the solicitor fees off monthly. Deidre’s brothers came over in the 1960s to live with her when her parents died.

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


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Mere Rd


John and Annie Moran lived at 54, and then 52, Mere Rd. Anne Moran (nee King) was from Dublin City and John Moran was from the Kilkelly and Midfield area of County Mayo, north of Knock and Castlebar, south of Charlestown. John had been over here a little while, working his way down the country in various mines. He stayed in St. Helen’s for a while but stopped moving around when he got to Leicester and worked at collieries in the south of Leicester, such as Ellistown.  Annie (nee King) had been looking after her mother back home until her younger sister “took over” which allowed her the freedom to come here. She came to do her nurse training at The General Hospital and lived in the nurse’s accommodation. She would later have to leave there when she got married as it was only for single women.


Humberstone Gate

John and Annie met at a dance at the Secular Hall, Humberstone Gate and later went back to Dublin to marry in 1946. They had 3 sons: Pat, John and Brien. Pat and John were born in a flat at 33 Lincoln St: Brien, at a bigger house at 88 Upper Conduit St. The house on Upper Conduit St. was owned by the butcher next door and they shared a yard with the shop and another family, the Howards and their son Frankie at No. 86. Brien remembers the Callaghans at 104 Upper Conduit St, who they were related to on his mother’s side, and was best friends with one of the Flannery’s, Rob, on Lincoln St.

When the Morans moved to Mere Rd they first lived at no. 54 which they rented from an English lady. The woman at 52 moved out when her husband died and John and Annie moved the family next door! This house was owned by a lady who lived on the South coast. Mr Quinn of Waring Street had worked at a firm of solicitors who managed the rent collection from the Morans at 54 and then 52 Mere Road. Both of these houses were owned by the same person.

The Jolly Miller was a kind of “local Irish embassy” where strangers to Leicester would arrive and find about work, lodgings and to find friends and family.


John remembers going out to the shop but refusing to take Brien with him: Brien went anyway and got lost. Annie had the neighbours and police out looking for him before he was brought home by the police! He also remembers Roger Iceson who lived two doors down. The house was one of those that had a large shop front window and inside he had a great model railway set.

John remembers that Anna Feeney, a neighbour the same age as him, would come to pick him and Pat up in the morning and they would walk down Upper Conduit St, meet Mrs. Veal and other children on the corner of Berner’s St and on to Scared Heart School. Mrs Veal was a formidable and well known teacher there.

Living so close to the railway station gave the boys plenty to do: Pat and John would go train spotting down on the platforms of London Rd station. Everyone would cut through a pedestrian walk way from Hutchinson St to Swain St. bridge: it was called 'The Bird Cage' as there was a pet shop on the corner and the boys would look through the gaps in the wooden slats running along the mesh fence to see the trains and identify the numbers. They would also go down to the Rally Banks at the bottom of Beal St. Rally Banks overlooked the locomotive sheds and was a good location for recording loco numbers.


There was a kind of shed that would hold amateur film shows that local kids would pay to go to see, this was opposite the fish and chip shop and next was a grocers and the Co-op.

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


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Porter St


Tommy Holt came from Thomas Court, Dublin and joined the British Army. Looking for work he originally came to Stoke, England where he delivered coal.

Tommy already had an aunty living Leicester, Annie King, married to John Moran, and was probably coming over as early as 1948/49. Tommy met his wife-to-be, Greta Callaghan, back home in 1951 and they were married in 1951.  Greta came from Rainsford Avenue, Dublin and  came back over to Leicester with Tommy.

They originally lived on a first floor of a terraced house at 2 Porter St. in Highfields. Annie and John were then living near by at 88 Upper Conduit St. 


An old man lived downstairs and Greta took care of him as well as her own family. Their first child, Roseanna, was born in Bond St. hospital in 1952. She was named after Greta’s sister, Rosanna May who had died 6 months before baby Roseanna was born. Roseanna’s family has always called her May. When Greta was pregnant with their second child, Ray, the family moved down the street to  6 Porter St. where they had the two bedroom terraced house to themselves. As the only girl, Rosanna had the box room. It had been completely normal for them to have shared with others at No. 2 and they carried on sharing yard space and outside toilets with neighbours when at No. 6. The landlord called around to the house for the rent. The Sansomes lived at No. 8.


Tommy worked at Brigg’s Tannery almost facing their house and later at Gimson foundry, Vulcan Rd. His last job there was as a Castings Inspector and like many Irishmen and women Tommy sent money home regularly to his mother.

By the late 50s they were joined in Leicester by Tommy’s brother, Kinner who married an English girl. Greta’s brother, Paddy Callaghan, came too, with his wife Sarah (Hill).
Paddy and Sarah lived nearby at 104 Upper Conduit St with their children, Lynda and Sandra.  Rosanna would spend time with Aunty Sarah and her two daughters as her house with 3 brothers could get pretty hectic but all 5 cousins have fond memories of playing together and time spent in each other’s houses.

Roseanna has a memory of her Aunty Sarah expressing breast milk with a pump into glass bottles. These were then put into a tin box and put on the doorstep to be collected for the hospital. No refrigeration or cooler boxes then!

Greta had wanted Roseanna to go to Holy Cross School on New Walk but she actually went to Sacred Heart, Mere Rd. where her 3 brothers would follow her. In fact she originally went to Medway School, St. Peter’s Rd. May remembers walking to school, home for dinner and back again in the afternoon. May, Chris and Les later went to Corpus Christi and Ray went to Gateway.

Corner and local shops provided most of what everyone needed but Greta loved to get down to Leicester market and would walk down Sparkenhoe and Swain St. to get into town. Ray remembers being a delivery boy for the Co-op on the corner of St. Saviour’s Rd and Kitchener Rd.

 

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Medway St




Mary Considine (nee Collins) came from Tullamore and spent several years working in service at hotels and private colleges in England before settling in Leicester.

Agencies recruited staff in Ireland, gave them a room in staff houses and found them jobs. The agency paid the fare over from Ireland and the young recruits paid it back out of their wages. One of her jobs was at Lyon’s, Cadby Hall, High St Kensington. At the time the factory was preparing the meals for aeroplanes and Mary had to print out the labels using a sort of John Bull printing set.

Mary later worked at Ampleforth College, a large private Benedictine college for boys in York, between 1953 and1956. The college was run by monks and Mary’s job, along with the other women, was to look after the boys: set up tables for meals, serve food, clean, polish and make beds. They also took the priests their breakfast. The girls were not allowed to ever speak to the boys and would have been sent home if found out.

She next worked at the Gloucester Hotel in London and then the Hyde Park Rd. Hotel in Knightsbridge.

She met her husband Paul at a dance 1958 in Ealing Broadway and they married in 1960 at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Brook Green, Shepherds’ Bush. Mary went back home to Ireland the following year as she had a sick child and her father would not let her stay away from home: she was also pregnant with her second child, Timmy.


Paul stayed in England to work in Manchester and finally found work as a JCB driver in Leicester.
Mary and Paul first lived on 33 Medway St. and rented the ground floor of a terraced house for £3 a week. They rented from a Greek landlord who would come to the house to collect the rent on Saturdays. Mary thinks he had several properties around the area.

Patrick, Mark, Dympna, Helen, Timmy and Paul Considine.

 Mary’s family had the front and middle downstairs rooms of the house and the use of the kitchen. The children’s bed was pushed up against the front door and so everyone come down the entry and through the back door. She washed the kids in the sink and dried them in front of the fire.The people upstairs would have to go through the living room to get to their flat!

Mary remembers that the morning post would drop on the heads of the children whose bed was pushed up against the front door.

The family then moved to 49 St. Saviours Rd to a ground floor flat: 1 bedroom, living room, kitchen. Another family had the top floor of the house of the house and they would come through Mary’s living room to go upstairs! Mary had 4 children by now and had to hit the walls of the house to scare away the mice before she went in.

They also lived in
45 St Stephen’s Rd: a 3 storey house from Woods the builders, £3 a week.
42 Evington Rd : a 3 storey house, damp with no back garden and
18 Henry Ave, Eyres Monsell.


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


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

Mere Rd, Holmfield Rd Sileby.



Mary Warrener (maiden name MacCarthy) came to England  in 1956 with her parents when she was 15½. Her father was a business man who had been unsuccessful in Ireland and came over to Birmingham  to find paid work. He then went to London where he lived in an Irish boarding house and worked in the Post Office sorting office.

Mary’s mother and sister came over to join him in summer 1956 and Mary stayed at home with her Grandma. Mary herself arrived at Euston, 11 Nov 1956, on the same day her grandmother was buried and was sent to a convent school in Harrow.

She married at 23. Her husband was a civil servant from Lincoln working in London and she was a stenographer.  Geoff Warrener applied for a new posting in the Civil Service and was offered Crawley or Leicester. They chose the Leicester post where Geoff worked for the Official Receiver; it was also convenient for visiting Geoff’s family in Lincoln. They married in Harrow-Weald on 12 September 1964 and the Polish priest who married them was the only person they knew who had been to Leicester.

Mary came up first by train in early January 1965 to find accommodation. She went to Holy Cross Church for advice and a priest suggested an Irish landlady on Saxby St. who gave her lodgings while she looked for something more permanent. This was a lodging house mainly for Irishmen working in Leicester but Mary was able to share a room with another woman for a couple of nights. The landlady turned out to be a distant relative of Mary’s from home!


Mary and Geoff’s first place together was 131 Mere Rd, the top floor of a 2 storey house with a tiny back yard facing Spinney Hill Park. The landlady was a Mrs Keeley from the Isle of Man. A kleptomaniac, single Irish woman lived downstairs on one side of the hall door.  The kleptomaniac lady was an attendant at daily mass.


Mary and Geoff had first looked at a house in Clarendon Park but hadn’t got enough money for a deposit.   A few months later, they were able to put down a deposit on a not-yet built house, enabled by an Irish Free State Bond Mary had inherited from her grandmother.  And so they bought their first house in Sileby Leicestershire, 168 Homefield Rd in August 1965. It was a 3 bedroom semi-detached house, up a hill, with a view over to the Charnwood Hills, 15 mins. by train from Leicester. It cost them £2,400.  Mary’s father, working for the Co-op in Harrow, gave them a second hand bed and Geoff’s parents emptied their attic to provide them with furniture in their new home.

In Sileby in the 1960s Mary remembers having a grocery book from the local Co-op, leaving a shopping list in the shop on a Tuesday and the groceries being delivered before the weekend. She would then go in on Saturday to pay.

Mary started working for East Midlands Gas shortly after arriving in Leicester, in mid January 1965.  About three years later, Geoff also started working for East Midlands Gas because he would otherwise have had to return to London to continue working for the Board of Trade.  Both preferred living outside of London.


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


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Dore Rd



Joe Cusack, from Westport, was actually heading towards Birmingham on the train but didn’t have enough money so got off at Leicester.

He first lived in a flat in B+B in Saxby St because he had seen the vacancy sign in the window. He then moved to Mere Rd.

He met his wife, Lily, one night at The Corn Exchange dance and she was living on Mere Rd with Elisabeth Grimes from Castlebar.

He saw an advert for a job labouring in the engineering on Abbey Lane. He later went to City of Leicester to take his exams to be a Capstan’s Inspector. At home he had worked in the catering trade.

They married and in 1958 bought a house at 8 Dore Rd. for £1,600. They later moved up to Wigston Magna and Jo moved to work for Northbridge Engineering, Vicking Rd.

In the 1949/50 Jo was called up but had gone down to Cornwall to avoid going to Korea. The police found him in Penzance but he didn’t pass the medical. He was given an X-ray in a mobile van and it showed a shadow on his lung but a check later in Leicester proved this to be an error.

His brother, Jim, had a second hand/bargain shop on Charnwood St. and a music shop, Power Music, on Green lane Rd.

Another brother, Padraig, had been in the RAF, Palestine police, and he came to Leicester afterwards.

Jo only went home for funerals or back to stay with Lily’s family

Jo and Lily have 3 sons, Tony, Jimmy and Paul. They went to Sacred Heart, St. John Fisher and Corpus Christi. 

 
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Myrtle Rd


Kitty Shields and Don Nolan were both from Dublin: Kitty, Ardee St/Watkins Sq and Don, The Realto/James Walk.  Don was Kitty’s brother’s friend and they married on Dec 28 1963. Kitty had been 21 on Oct 5.

Don had been over to London before but Kitty “came as bride” when they flew back the day after they were married. Kitty’s brother George was already living in Leicester on Melbourne St.

Kitty and Don first lived at 444 East Park Rd and paid £4 7/6 rent. Don was first working at Dunlop earning around £12 a week and continued at John Bull, Evington Valley Rd.

They had a flat on the bottom floor of a 3 storey house. Everyone shared a bathroom on the landing. She remembers her neighbour Dorothy.

 Kitty had two children here, Margaret and Shaun, and moved to a flat at 37 Myrtle Rd when Shaun was 6 months old.

George and his wife, Nelly, moved into no.35 when they told them there was a vacancy. They had an end terraced and shared a back garden

Kitty remembers that many people paid rent to a landlord whose office was on Peacock Lane. She also remembers a family of local doctors on Regent Rd: old Dr. Lenten, born and trained in Ireland: his nephew Dr. Peter (Lenten) and finally Peter’s son Jonathon who was known as “Jewish Jonathon.” Peter was also the doctor for Leicester City Boxers.

In 1966 the family moved to a terraced house on 5 St. Saviour’s Rd and stayed there for 10 yrs.

By 1974 there were eligible for a house from the Council as Shaun was 11 and having to share with his sister. The council moved them to a house on St. Saviours Estate which they later bought.

Kitty remembers taking the children to Wesley Hall, Mere Rd, to have the babies weighed and to get supplies of orange juice and rose hip syrup.

Kitty would shop at the Co-op on East Park Rd and a supermarket on Eugene Rd but would mainly walk into town to the market.

She remembers Mary Considine on St. Saviours Rd and they would meet when talking the kids to school. Kitty’s children went to Sacred Heart and then either The Convent/St. Paul’s and English Martyrs.

She remembers getting a china cabinet from a shop on Cork St, nr East Park Rd and somehow managing to get it home with Don.


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


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


Upper Conduit St


Paddy and Sarah Callaghan (nee Hill) came over to Leicester together in the mid 1950s. Both were from Dublin: Sarah, Carmen’s Hall and Paddy, Rainsford Ave, by the Guinness factory. Paddy had already been working in Leicester as his sister, Greta, lived here with Tommy Holt in Porter St.

Back home in Dublin Sarah was friends with one of Tommy’s sisters, Eileen Holt, and through that connection Tommy’s brother, Kinner, had a taken a shine to her. He didn’t have any luck though: as Greta was now part of the Holt family Sarah got to know her brother, Paddy Callaghan.

Sarah had also already been to England. She came over when she was 17 to work in Pershore where her Uncle Jim (Ormsby) lived. Sarah worked as a barmaid and lodged with a woman who treated her like her own daughter. Back home in Dublin she worked as a cleaner at Brown Thomas dept. store. and she and Paddy met up again.

They married in Thomas St Church, Dec 26, 1954.

They first lived at 32 Berners St and their first daughter Lynda was born in Bond St, 1957, hospital while they were there. Paddy was working down the pit by now and Sarah had a very good friend and neighbour in Pem, next door.

They perhaps just had rooms here as by 1960, and their second daughter, Sandra, they had moved to 104 Upper Conduit St. where they had the whole house.  Sandra was born at home and Sarah would express her extra breast milk for the mums who couldn’t feed their own babies.



Paddy was a miner and this meant a generous coal allowance that sat outside in the coal shed. They shared an open yard with the neighbours, Alf and Sheila Johnson and their children. Lynda remembers the spiders and the cold in the shared outside toilet. She also remembers throwing snow balls with her cousin Les Holt, against the gable end of the houses in the yard, trying to see who could reach the highest. Roseanna Holt would come around to Aunty Sarah’s to help and to spend time in a house of girls as a rest from her house with 3 brothers!

The house was almost facing Underhill St which was already half demolished by then. It was a kids’ paradise of rubble and empty houses: Lynda and her cousin Les both remember that the kids would drag old mattresses against the empty houses, climb inside the derelict shell and jump out of the first floor window onto the soft landing below! Underhill St was also famous for its huge bonfire on Nov 5 piled high with old furniture.

Lynda had warts on her hand as a child and remembers being told to rub them with raw meat and bury it in the ground down Underhill St.

104 Upper Conduit St. had a broad shop front window and some of the old shop furnishings inside. Brien Moran, a cousin of Les’ on the Holt side, remembers Uncle Paddy putting him into one of the green biscuit boxes and shutting it tight!


The girls remember going home to Ireland regularly for what seemed like the whole summer. Sarah’s other sisters would go home too and sometimes up to a dozen English cousins would be making their way out to Bray or Howth for the day. Sarah’s youngest sister, Chrissie often came over from Coventry with her husband Tony Gill. They drove a Triumph Herald and Chrissie lent Lynda her wedding tiara for her Holy Communion and confirmation. Another sister Rita had a son the same age as Lynda and they would alternate Xmas between Leicester and London.

 Silver Cladgahs would come though the post for the girls from Sarah’s mother and fresh boxes of shamrock for St. Patrick’s day.

Lynda and Sandra both went to Sacred Heart but the family was moved to Eyres Monsell by 1965 as the council began to demolish the area that covered Upper Kent St to Guthlaxton St., St Peters Rd to Berners St. The girls were among the first group of pupils to go to the newly built Holy Cross School on Stonesby Avenue. They continued to visit the Holts who had been moved out to Goodwood Estate.



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.

Gotham St


George Corry came to Leicester in 1958 where his cousin Michael Howard was working as a ward orderly. Michael had told George that there was work in Leicester and that the money was good.

Michael worked at The Hilcrest, Sparkenhoe St. and spoke to the ward sister/assistant matron who was from Belfast about George needing a job and she told him to come up to see her. He went up on the Monday and started work the next day earning 15/- a week. Most of the staff, nurses and ward orderlies where from either Ireland or the West Indies.

George first lived in was a room in a terraced house in Gopsall St but only stayed a couple of weeks. He then had a room around the corner in 22 Gotham St which cost him 7/6d a week. He got all his food at work and worked 7-5. Some shifts included a break between 2 and 4 which meant you had to then work till 8.
Gotham St.

He lived in Gotham St for a couple of years and shared a room.

A friend of his lived in Tichbourne St, but he and his girlfriend, were killed by a faulty gas pipe in the house.

A friend in Gotham St asked George if he’d like to move over to another place and so he moved to Tennyson St. Here he had a room on the top floor of a 3 storey building. He did his own cooking using a cooker on the landing shared with a lady who had the other room.

Gotham St.

George remembers going to 7.00 mass at Holy Cross on a Sunday and being late for work. However, the Matron was Catholic too and he’d have been in more trouble with her if he hadn’t gone!

He remembers dances at The Corn Exchange, Sacred Heart, the Palais de Dance. and Joe Willis running dances at The Trade Hall.


George married Sorca Gregan and they  moved to Eastleigh Rd then Latimer Rd.

He worked at Wolsey Hosiery.

George’s two children Gerard and Sara went to Christ the King and later English Martyr’s school.



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.

Evington St, Mere Rd





Steve  Beatty’s father went to America in 1910 and his mother, Kate, joined him the following year. They married and then lived in Boston, Massachusetts.

Steve’s father Michael worked in a warehouse and he and his wife returned to Galway in 1920.
Steve was born a month later in The Cladagh, Galway, on May 25. Steve’s father bought a small lorry and started his own business transporting pigs, sheep and flour. He later put a seat on the back of the lorry and would carry passengers around the town.

Steve had previously worked as a mechanic in Galway but his boss had had to make redundancies. Being single, Steve and another man were let go.

He left Ireland in 1939 and arrived in Coventry September 15. He found digs at 2 Rolloson Rd. and went back home in 1947 for his honeymoon.

Due to the petrol shortage after the war there were very few cars and therefore few jobs for mechanics. He got work driving in Coventry for £3/10s and £8 if he worked nights. After 2 years in the country Steve became eligible for National Service in the British Army but was exempt because of the work he was doing. Another brother, Johnny was also called up and served in Arnhem.

Steve transferred to Leicester in June 1945. His brother Martin, who had been living in Coventry, had then moved over to Leicester. He wrote to Steve saying that things were better in Leicester and to come over.

Martin saw an advert for a flat in a post office on Mere Rd and Steve got the ground floor flat in a 3 storey house at 37 Mere Rd.

He remembers needing a reference to get the flat and had one with him from his old boss in Ireland.
Steve got a job night driving for a transport company and then started doing car repairs. By 1947 he was selling cars and building up his own successful business.




In 1954 Martin bought a piece of land at 88-92 Sparkenhoe St and they set up the Beatty Brothers’ forecourt selling cars. He also bought a workshop at 1 Evington St. which was two terraced houses knocked together. He lived opposite at No. 2 Evington St. and could walk through the back door and into the office.

The piece of land had been the site of 2 houses bombed in 1941 which had lain disused for years. (Steve recalls that the council in Coventry were much more efficient when it came to clearing rubble from bombsites.)  It took 104 lorry loads to take away all the old brickwork, rubble and rubbish that had accumulated. Steve and Martin cleared the land and used it to display and sell used cars. Local people were very grateful that they had cleared the land, erecting a fence and putting up flower boxes!

The Beatty brothers built a car showroom in 1959 which could hold 30 cars with 14 cars in the car park. Steve describes himself as first “in the overalls”, in the workshop. Martin was Managing Director and Steve had a quarter share in the company. Because of the shortage of cars he would later travel around to car auctions in Hull and Lincolnshire looking for cars to sell. They sold the business in 1988 and Martin retired back home to Galway but was in bad health. Steve retired although he carried on dealing in cars for another 9 years: he says he feels very lucky to have been able to keep working as he did.

The brothers later became a Fiat Agency but it seemed that the public weren’t ready for foreign cars.

Steve and his wife Julie, nee McGrath, lived at 2 Evington St until he retired from the motor trade in 1956. They were married for 61 yrs. Julie was a nurse at The Towers Hospital and had come from a family of 9 children.

Martin had two daughters, Maureen, and Rosemary.

Steve and Julie have two sons: James and Geoffrey. James, born in 1947, went to Scared Heart and Gateway. Geoffrey, born 1961 went to Sacred Heart and City of Leicester School. 

Steve’s two sisters came over to Leicester because their brothers were here. Nora (married name, Robertson) bought a house in Aylestone for £3000 in 1950 and Ann (married name, Parker) lived at 92 Victoria Park Rd. for 30 years 



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.

St Patrick's festivities

Ever since I began this work in September 2011 it made sense to culminate in a celebration event as part of  Leicester's St. Patrick's festivities.

I am checking and double checking, proof reading and editing: still collecting photos and following up contacts. But of course, this isn't the end; it's an opportunity for the Irish in Leicester to see their story in print, on DVD and on the web. It's the point at which those stories get out there for all to read and to enjoy and it's also the time for everyone else to get involved.

Read the stories, check out the photos and dive into the map. Tell us your story......

Why did your family come over? 
When did they come over to Leicester?
Where did you and your family live?



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.