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