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.