Saturday, 30 June 2012


For most of us second generation Irish kids here in Leicester, I imagine our main holiday was simply going "home": ours certainly was. My memory is of glorious summers spent at my maternal grandmother's in Carmen's Hall, Dublin. She was the strong matriarch that held the family together and who everybody in the family called Mother.

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.

What are your holiday memories?

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

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.

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