Sunday, 20 May 2012

Lincoln St

Lincoln St from College St
Thomas Paul Flannery and Gerardine Mary Flannery moved from Castlebar Co Mayo to Leicester, to 135 Sherrard Road in 1959. Mary came originally from Sallynoggin, Dun Laoghaire. Thomas, known as Paul, had been over for a while with the older kids and the youngest came over later with Gerardine, 6 in all: Pauline, David, Rita, Robert, Hilary and Stella.

There had been an outbreak of gastro-enteritis which had killed some children in Castlebar and made one daughter, Hilary quite ill (the story was it was caused by the water supply). Gerardine always said that she didn't feel the same about living in Castlebar after this. The irony is they moved from a 'modern' council house with a bathroom into a terraced house with an outdoor loo and metal bath hung on the yard wall!!  Education was also a big consideration-at that point the Irish state was charging for education.

Tom had been over at times before looking for work: once over here he worked on the roads with Mayo CC and then got a job working at Frederick Parker's as a factory storekeeper. His version of the need to come over to England was that 'instead of seeing us off at Castlebar station one by one, we'd all go together.'

Gerardine had a lot of English connections in that her Dad was English and he lived in Cheltenham and her twin brother lived in Widnes.

The house was rented by a private landlord Mr Armstrong and eventually Tom and Gerardine bought it off him.
In the summer of 1968 the family had to move as the house was compulsory purchased and condemned. They moved to 6 Lincoln Street which they paid a mortgage for and David, the eldest son helped put down the deposit for, as at that point he was out to work.

Hilary still remembers her mum spending the removal day cleaning an empty house that was going to be knocked down-however, it was 1968, the year she was moving up to Collegiate Girl’s School, College St. and it was good to finally have a bathroom!

Tom played in a band called the 'Tom Cats'. He played the accordion and the piano and he sang, so he had quite a wide circle of friends in all the Irish Clubs. But they weren't often invited home-him and Gerardine tended to go out on their own on a Friday evening to the Belmont Hotel and Tom then went to play on Sat and sometimes Sundays. He was quite a performer and he delivered a range of songs in a range of styles-including boogie -woogie and he usually got people up dancing.

Gerardine had a few friends, not all from the Irish community, sometimes people she met from her cleaning jobs and from the Church such as Mary Stembarski, and Aggie Sullivan.

For a while, a great aunt Ann lived with them until she died in 1961-she had been a substitute mum for Gerardine.

Then there were a crowd of great aunts and uncles who had reared Gerardine who lived in Dun Laoghaire. As a family the children were invited back during school breaks to the house which was part of an ex-farm/smallholding and bank of cottages, magically named Thomastown, Sallynoggin Road.

Going back there as a child from industrial redbrick Leicester was like visiting a fantasy world of freedom, fresh air and flowers.
The family received Xmas cake which was as heavy as a brick and sprinkled with the silver balls like miniature ammunition and best of all real shamrock in a box for St Patrick’s Day. Tom and Gerardine always got sent The Connaught Telegraph and the occasional An Phobalcht from their good neighbours the Rotherys in Castlebar.

However, it tended to be one-way traffic back to Ireland with Gerardine and Tom going back during the Leicester industrial fortnight. Relatives never came to visit, except maybe some of Tom's family might drop in. The next door neighbours were English people, Reg and Ivy Brown.

The family frequented a range of pubs, mainly the Daniel Lambert, The Highfields Club, The Sacred Heart Club and The St Patrick's Club.  any other Working Men's Club. Skidmores, The Co-op.

Because there were 6 children they were fairly self-contained but there were families living locally they were friendly with-The Moran’s,  O'Callan’s and The Scannell’s.

For more of the Moran's story read Mere Rd.

Thanks to Colin Hyde for the photos: East Midlands Oral History Archive

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