Friday, 9 March 2012

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.

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