Friday, 8 November 2013


I met today with John Coster of Citizenseye and Namrata Varia from BBC Radio Leicester. Namrata is continuing the success of the BBC 4 Listening project.

"We want everyone to have a chance for their conversation become part of the Listening Project. A conversation that you have at your kitchen table could become part of the oral history archive in the British Library. Don’t be put off if you’ve never recorded anything before. All you need is a computer, laptop, camera, mp3 player or phone with a microphone.

If you don't have access to any of those then you can still get in touch with one of the local BBC radio stations participating in the Listening Project. A full list of the stations involved is available on our stations page"

I have often wondered if the stories  captured here in the blog ever spark conversations between families; whether you turn and ask your parents and siblings the kind of questions I've asked them. For example " What did it feel like coming over on your own?" I know I never asked my Mum and Dad and I regret that.

Do not let our stories disappear: you can always talk to me and I'll write them down and put them up on the blog, Or we can take this a step further and come along to Radio Leicester and record your stories together. Just let me know.

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.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Your dancing days...




As part of Leicester's Heritage Open Days yesterday I visited The Secular Hall on Humberstone Gate. It's the kind of building that we walk past everyday, forgetting to look up at and appreciate. It's drenched in a history of radicalism and free thinkers but I must admit my main motivation was to get inside the place where some of you said you drank, dance and for John and Annie Moran, even met your wives and husbands to be. The Hall was actually a key part of the dancing scene in the 1950's and 60's

In you go...


Up the stairs...

Nearly there...
and dance!



You may have popped in here to touch up your hair and lipstick...


...or even sat on one of these Gimson benches to rest your feet in between dances.






I don't know if my own parents ever went dancing at The Secular Hall but I got a lump in my throat walking up those steps thinking that they might have done.

Did you or your parents ever dance 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 or join The Irish in Leicester group on Facebook.
Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Blog Awards Ireland 2013


I found out this morning that, unfortunately, I have not been shortlisted for the Blog Awards Ireland 2013, Best Blog of the Diaspora. Getting through to the long list was exciting enough and I thank everyone for all their support and best wishes. I'm already thinking about how I can improve how the blog looks but the whole point of this blog is to tell your stories so let's just keep doing what we do!

Thanks

 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.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Academic interest...

Regulars will know that things have been a little quiet on the blog lately; sometimes life just gets in the way. But a really interesting development has popped up into that open space....


I have been contacted recently by Dr. Angela Maye-Banbury and Dr. Rionach Casey from Sheffield Hallam University. Angela, from County Tyrone, and Rionach, from Cork, are members of the Dept. of Architecture and Planning at Sheffield Hallam. They are experienced researchers in the field of sociology and particularly on the importance of housing and home in diverse communities. I am thrilled to say they have invited me to be part of their new project, Irish History Housing Research, looking at the housing histories of Irish communities in Leicester and Sheffield. If you or your family are interested in being part of this study just let me know.


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.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

My Tribe


 


I have written before about my affinity with the Claddagh and do have a tendency to ask complete strangers if I can photograph their hands! Today's post is about me taking that one step further.

I have recently been on a Digital Story Telling course at the delightful Ashby-de-la-Zouch museum. Thank you so much to the staff there, the others on the course and Alex Henry of Creative Curiosity for her endless information and ideas.

Here is my first attempt at telling my story digitally.

 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.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Biddle Rd

Susan Quilter was born in Leicester to an English mother and Irish father.  Her father, William Greally (called Bill in Leicester) was born in Roscommon in 1922. He was the eldest  of 7 brothers and a sister.

The family moved to New Parks from Moira St in 1961. Mum, Dad, Pete, Sue, Maggie, Dette and Gez moved to 145 Biddle Rd when Sue was 14: her younger brother Paddy was later born here.  Her father Bill had had an accident down the mines in the late 60s and was pensioned out.


Bill Greally's pit tag.
With the money he got he bought a van and rented a shop selling second hand clothes, bric-a-brac etc. He also had a stall on Leicester Market.

Maggie Greally's birthday at Biddle Rd. Gez, centre left in a stripy dress, Dette centre right, blond hair,
Susan the older sister at the back.

Ann Morrisey and Maggie Greally st Biddle Rd.
Later the family moved to Beatrice Rd to a 4 bed house with a shop attached so he gave up the first shop but kept the van and stall on the market. Sue remembers playing hide and seek and skipping with her friend Linda Illiffe.
Sue had married in 1969 and became Susan Quilter but divorced in 1995. She later met her own Irishman, Pat Cullen in 1998 and they have been together ever since.  She was in The Standard having a drink when they got talking and it turned out that Pat knew Sue’s Dad and her uncles. He took her to an Irish music session at Molly O’Grady’s and the rest is history!
Pat had come over himself from Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon in 1963. He says “I came here on the Saturday, I was 18 on the Sunday and I started work on the Monday”

If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:
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Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.



RIP Susan Quilter


Susan making her First Holy Communion. Our Lady's Church, Harrison Rd.

Sadly, the community lost a delightful lady recently. I had known Susan Quilter for almost a year and the first half of her story was posted here only a couple of weeks ago: Moira St.

She was very keen to share her memories of being an English/Irish child growing up in Leicester and gave me the most fabulous photos; so many in fact that I'm able to make two fascinating stories. Sue's partner, Pat, has kindly given me permission to complete her story by posting the next part, Biddle St.

Thank you Pat, and we are so sorry for your loss.

The netball team at St. Patricks school, Harrsion Rd. Susan, top left, with the lovely bow in her hair.

 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Thursday, 13 June 2013

St Steven's Rd.



John Walker on St Steven's Rd. Tall fella, centre right.
John Walker was born in Tubbercurry, County Sligo in 1937. He came over to England when he was 19 on October 5, 1956 and arrived in Leicester the next day, a Saturday. He was met by his brother James who was the eldest brother and had already come over “for money".


The Black Boy, Albion St.

John first stayed in South Albion St. with a Kerry man, John Brosnan and his wife. James warned him that the food wasn’t very good and that he’d soon look like a greyhound.
After a few months the brothers found a room in a house on Avon St with a cousin, Johnny Armstrong, and they cooked for themselves. They lived here for 2 yrs. and during this time John worked for John Laing. John and James  paid £2 a week rent, a pound each. John did the shopping and James did the cooking and when James left John had forgotten how to cook!
He met two fellas from Charlestown who got them work with cars," no tax”. John first worked in Derby,  Matlock, Sponden and finally back to Leicester. In Leicester he worked for Johnson and Stubbs, a Birkenhead firm, digging trenches and laying gas pipes. After 2 or 3 months he was transferred to Northampton, then Runcorn and back to Leicester. He was then 23 years old.



Back in Leicester he got a room on his own at 8 Tichbourne St. and then 43 St. Peter’s Rd. with 2 other fellas, Johnny Quinn and George Callaghan.
George “ never washed a shirt”. He would buy a new shirt each week, wear it till it was black and then buy a new one. He’d be spending £2 for a shirt when John was paying £4 a week to have his entire washing done at a local laundry. When John told him George couldn’t believe how all his shirts came back clean and pressed: he didn’t buy another shirt for 6 months!
Johnny Quinn would take his dog to the pub; he’d buy two pints, one for himself and one for the terrier sitting on the bar!
They had a cooker in the room and John did the cooking and shopping. The first week they paid £3 each and John kept a tally of all the costs in a book.

John had been a Pioneer since he was 16 in 1953. People used to say “drink is a bad dog you have to muzzle” and ” Drink never made a strong man or a great nation.”
The other fellas liked a drink and would be dying for a drink on Sundays when the pubs were shut. Although John was a Pioneer he could see how much the fellas wanted their drink; once he bought bottles of beer and hid them under the sink. He told them he could get them drink on a Sunday and charged them £2 for it! They couldn’t understand where he’d got it from and he could never understand why they didn’t do that for themselves. (He gave them their money back when it he told them what he’d done.)
John would often make a big stew. One time he put the 4lbs of stewing beef in the pot but fell asleep and forgot to turn it on. When he woke up he put it on for a while and went out. That night George Callaghan brought a fella back from the pub saying “John always had a great stew on” but this time it was half raw!
In 1963 he bought a house on St. Steven’s Rd for £1,800. His friend, Big John Ward was amazed: “You buy a house? You couldn’t buy your breakfast!”
Like many fellas John would go home to see his family and would help out on the family smallholding. One time, in 1966 he met Mary McDonagh at a dance in Cloonacool. This was a fundraising dance for the local priests in a marquee and cost 2/6d to get in.
Mary had a great musical ear and could pick up a lilt. She could go to a dance, sit up with the band, come home and lilt a tune to her father. “Daddy, I have a nice tune” He’d say ” bring me the fiddle from under the bed” and between them they’d get it! They were married in 1968 by John’s brother, Michael, who was a priest.


Dunlop, Leicester.

Mary had already been over to England: she had lived in Birkenhead with an Aunty and trained as a bookkeeper. When she came to Leicester she worked at Dunlop filling in for a woman but they wanted her to stay on. Their first son, Michael, was born in 1969 and she went back to work after wards.
He remembers going to the pictures regularly on Melbourne Rd. and an off-license called Walker’s on Biddolph St  (which is now a funeral directors.)
They used both Holy Cross and Sacred Heart Church. They were in Sacred Heart Parish but the other side of St. Steven’s Rd was in Holy Cross.
John doesn’t recall experiencing any prejudice during those early years and one friend had even asked why so many people talked to him. John says “If you’re alright with people, people will be right with you.” “I often meet a black man and stand up and have the craic.” "When I go in if they don’t speak to me I speak to them."
Both children were born in Leicester; Michael in The General in 1969, John in The Royal in 1972.
Once both his uncle and father had died John says " Being as I was supposed to go home anyway” he went home and the family stayed in Ireland for the next 14 years.
John came back to Leicester in 1986 while Mary and the boys stayed in Ireland. They'd had a very bad year on the farm and eventually John decided to rent all the land out  and the whole family returned to 14 Linton St, Evington, a 3 bed-terraced. (The family still own that land.)

Linton St today.
Michael went to Charles Keene College and John went to St.Paul’s. It was only after a visit from the Headmaster that John realised his youngest had been ”schemin’ school” for months. Young John had done the work in school in Ireland and was able to miss school here in England and still keep up. The Headmaster even said " If he was my son I’d take him out and get him a job”. John went on to night school and continued his education getting a degree in Electrical Engineering.


 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.
Thank to Colin Hyde at EMOHA for the photo of Linton St.


Saturday, 1 June 2013

First Holy Communion


How many of us have the exact same photo?
Lynda Callaghan, Sacred Heart Church.

Anyone else have one of these?
With my cousin Les Holt, Sacred Heart Church


 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Moira St

Susan Quilter was born in Leicester to an English mother and Irish father.  Her father, William Greally (called Bill in Leicester) was born in Roscommon in 1922. He was the eldest  of 7 brothers and a sister. His grandparents had a small farm but, although there was plenty of work to be had at home, the money was better in England. He first came over with three or four other fellas when he was 17 in 1939.They came to Reading where he got a job as an apprentice electrician. This was a reserved occupation which meant he was not conscripted when war broke out.

He later moved up to Leicester to work in the mines at Desford and had rooms at 2 Moira St.
Bill Greally's pit tag.
Susan’s Mum, Irene Lismore, had come to Leicester with her family when they moved from Bisceter, Oxfoshire. They lived at 4 Moira St!
Bill and Irene met and were courting for about 2 years before they married in 1944.
Irene’s parents moved back to Oxford and, after they had married at Leicester Registry Office, Irene and Bill lived at no. 4. They had 5 of their 6 children here: Pete, Sue, Maggie, Dette and Gez. It was a 3 bedroom rented house and Irene’s Mum came back to live with them after she was widowed.
Pete Greally in the backyard of Moira St.
 The older children, Dette, Sue and Mags went to St. Patrick’s school on Harrison Rd and Sue later won a scholarship to go to Wyggeston Girl’s school.
There was one other Irish family on the street called Quinn, and Kathleen Quinn went to St. Patricks School too.
Sue can remember Griffith’s shop; potatoes in sacks, sweet jars full of collar studs and buttons, slabs of cheese and bacon. She says “Even though they might be closed you could always knock on the door and they’d serve you.”
The family used Our Lady’s Church on Harrison Rd. which is now a Hindu temple. She remembers the May Day procession which went down Moira St, along Melton Rd, up Canon St and back along Harrison Rd to the church.

The picture below is taken on Coronation Day, 1954 under an archway on Moira St. There had been a street party to celebrate the Coronation with tables set out in the street. Unfortunately it started to rain and the women pulled the tables in out of the wet. Susan's mother, Irene, is left of centre wearing a swagger coat and expecting Maggie.

Moira St. Coronation day 1954.

Her uncles followed their brother Bill over and would often stay with the family. They might then find their own rooms or even go back to Ireland and come back again. Sue remembers that her Uncle Pat, known as “Black Pat” would pawn his suit on a Monday morning and get it out again at the weekend. “He’d come round on a Friday night with a steak to be cooked and a tin of Lucky Numbers sweets.”

Bernard Greally's Travel Identity card.

Click through for more about the original St.Patrick's school on Royal East St.


 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Equity Rd

Bridget wasn’t yet 21 when she first came to England from Athy, County Kildare in 1956. In fact she had her 21st birthday in London. Her father had come over to England after the war and was working on the building.  He was already living in Hammersmith but her Mum was unable to join him. Bridget was the first of a long line of brothers and sisters to come over.
She met her husband-to-be, Martin Fitzgerald in London. She used to work in a supermarket and the Irish lads used to come in and have laugh. She also remembers working in an Irish cafe for half a day: it was full of Irish builders.

Bridget and Martin married in the Holy Trinity church, Brooke Green, London in 1960.  Martin had family up in Leicester so they moved up here shortly afterwards.
Bridget and Martin Fitzgerald
Their first home in Leicester was on Equity Rd. They had the ground floor of a house and she remembers it as being very damp (perhaps because there was a cold storage unit near by!). After a few months they got a council place in the brand new Rowlatt’s Hill flats. Rowlatt’s Hill was built between 1964 and 67. By 1969 they had bought a house in Aylestone, Keenan Close, which cost them £3000.
Like many others, Bridget remembers being able to pick and choose jobs. While living in Equity Rd she worked at Byfords, operating a machine by hand that printed labels and invoices.
She worked at the Co-op offices on Union St (now part of The Shires).
While living at Rowlatts Hill she worked as Watkin’s on Green Lane Rd. This was a wood machinery tool place and she worked in the office.
Coming from London Bridget found Leicester confusing: she was used to using The Tube to get around and Leicester buses would change numbers depending on whether they were going in or out of town.  She used the Clock Tower as a reference point to find her way around. She didn’t like the market as she thought the fruit was often bruised and the stall holders wouldn’t let you pick your own.
When she was first over Bridget remembers going to look at a room. The room only had one bed so it was clear she would have to share a bed with a stranger. When she said she didn’t want to do that the landlady said “You Irish, you’re expecting too much”.
Her 2 sons, Martin Jnr. and Barry were born in Aylestone: Martin Jnr. in 1974 and Barry in 1977. They went to Holy Cross on Stonesby Avenue and later St.Paul’s. Bridget was a dinner lady a Holy Cross school in the 80s when the boys were there, and later The Newry,  which fitted in perfectly with the children. She also worked voluntarily at The General Hospital.
The new Holy Cross School, Stonesby Avenue, opened in 1966.

Once Martin Fitzgerald himself died in 1986, Martin Jnr. dropped the jnr. was THE Martin Fitzgerald.

Thank you to Julia Christy, Head of Holy Cross school for the photgraph.
 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Sentient Handkerchief



Handkerchief Installation: Irish Exile/Migration: Mothers and
Daughters by Sarah Strong . 2012 . copyright
You may have read a previous blog post, Mothers and Daughters , about the work of artist, Sarah Strong. Well, I went down to London yesterday for a viewing of her installation, The Sentient Handkerchief. It was held in the warm and welcoming offices of mind yourself  in Islington which works to improve the well being of the Irish community in London.

I had already received a photo of my handkerchief  but I still didn't know what the complete piece of work would look like. Everytime I have mentioned this project to people I have filled up and got emotional - I didn't disappoint last night either!

Sarah Strong and her husband, John.






I got there early and was thrilled to see the final piece: 15 handkerchieves, 12 mother/daughter photos interspersed with 3 photos of willow trees. I have to admit I was very proud to see my Mum up there on the top row but that significance is clearly mine not Sarah's! The evening was well attended but sadly only two other "handkerchief girls " were able to make it: several lived abroad, others had family commitments etc. but it was lovely to meet those other two and to swap stories. As varied as our experiences were, we had all loved and lost our Mothers.

Thank you so much Sarah.

 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.


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.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

St.Pat's Club, Abbey St.


St Pat's Club, Abbey St. Leicester.
Sometimes you don't need any more details than a time and a place and a name. This photo was taken in 1966 at St.Pat's Club, Abbey St.

Left to right:
Bernard Greally, Paddy Mullroy, Jim Mullroy, Bill Greally, Christie Cummins and Jimmy Joyce.

Who knows their story?

More on St. Pat's...


 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Harrison Rd

I've had a fantastically quick response from the new friends I made at the Holy Cross lunch club on Tuesday. These two photos were taken at St.Patrick's School, Harrison Rd, around 1956/7 and were given to me by Susan Quilter, top left of the netball team with the lovely bow in her hair.

Surely some of you, your parents, friends and family are in these photos too. I would love to hear from you if you are!

The school netball team. St Patrick's School, Harrison Rd, 1956/7
Susan Quilter, Shirley Russell, Monica Reid.
Front row Ann Robinson,Pat Bailey, Janet Irwin, Judith Shell and Susan Fox..
This photo includes Mr Brennan centre stage. He was Deputy Head at the time, and went on to be Headmaster at English Martyrs.

St Patrick's School, Harrison Rd, 1956/7.

For more about St. Patrick's school and club and its role in the life of The Irish in Leicester see :

 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.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Holy Cross

A huge thank you to the Holy Cross lunch club for their hospitality and warm welcome today.

I gave a short talk to the group about the blog earlier today and came away with some new contacts and some more Claddaghs! I look forward to hearing more from these particular ladies...

Brenda Cutts


Susan Quilter

 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Ever connecting links


I've written about this before I know but one of the things that continues to come through during my conversations with our Irish Elders is the link with others: the link with family and friends who were already here and the link with those who came later, either to visit or to stay. 

The first two pictures here are of my own family. The first one, taken in the back yard of Upper Conduit St, shows me and my Mum and Dad, with my maternal Grandmother. 

Mother, my Dad, Paddy, my Mum,Sarah and me, around 1959.
My Grandmother was called Mother by everybody.who knew her and had raised 10 children of her own. Despite being the eldest, after an older sister Hannah had sadly died of TB, my Mum was not the first of her 8 sisters to marry and have children. I don't know if this was the first time Mother had been over to see her in Leicester (she had 3 daughters already over in England who were married and had children) but it's certainly the only picture of me and her at such an early age. 

The second picture is of Annie, one my Mum's sisters. This is clearly a few years later and the baby is now my sister Sandra. The taller young girl in the middle is my cousin May Holt, who lived around the corner in Porter St. Her Mum, Greta, was my Dad's sister and the reason my parents came to Leicester in the first place. There often seemed to be people around or "over" and I wonder how many of them used the house as their first port of call in Leicester.

Sarah Callaghan, Annie Hill, May Holt, Lynda and Sandra Callaghan at Upper Conduit St.


Lastly here is a photo that really sums up the connections and strong links of many Irish families away from home...

From Brendan Grady

 Me & mum plus her relatives, Patsy & Genevieve McDowell with their 2 kids, (They emigrated to Australia in '70's). Plus also Kathleen Burns who was married to my Mum's cousin John Burns (from Liverpool) - John took most of the pics at this time {John and his brother Billy (rip) and sister Rose (rip) were brought up with my mother at their Grandma's in Forkhill Armagh during the 2nd WW , so they were always close.




 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.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Eamon Morton RIP

Eamon Morton
 I have only had the pleasure of knowing Eamon Morton for about a year and a half and a nicer, gentler man you could not hope to find. He and his wife Patricia  lived on Hobart St when they first came over and I was lucky enough to get to know the kindness, the sense of humour and, of course, the accordion that he was famed for. 

Today is a very sad day.

Eamon entertaining at the Emerald Centre Gala Day, Summer 2012.

 If you'd like to be involved contact us on 0116 276 9186 or pop in to:

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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sound familiar?



I am really enjoying listening to Stuart Maconie’s Radio 2 series: The People’s Songs. The most recent episode tells the story My Boy Lollipop - The Caribbean Comes to Britain and I’m listening to it right now. Those early Jamaican immigrants talk of:
Coming to somewhere better
Leaving family behind
Going to friends and family who came over first
People not understanding your accent
Missing your loved ones
Enjoying new freedoms
Experiencing prejudice
Being turned away from accommodation
Bringing new food, music and dancing.
Wanting your children to succeed and do well in the new country
Making new friends
Sound familiar?

 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

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Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Bakewell St

Etta Burns came from Forkhill, South Armagh to Leicester in 1957. She came for work and lived with family at 49 Upper Kent St. until she got married. 

41-47 Upper Kent St

Her uncle, Tommy Burns, had come over in 1939. He used to work at St. Pat’s club, Abbey St so she would spend a lot of time there and loved it.

She met Patrick Grady at a Co-op Hall dance but had seen him around at St. Pat’s and other places and decided that he was the one. However, she does say that the girls could have their pick of the fellas, have dates with no-strings attached and even have a couple "on the go" before you made up your mind! She married Patrick Grady in 1960 and was married for 50 yrs.

Etta and Patrick at The Palais.

Etta and Patrick first lived in a flat on Nottingham Rd, near Imperial Typewriters which cost £2/10. She remembers being happy and busy and having a good life.

She first worked in Woolworth’s, where she was paid £4/18, but didn’t like having to work Saturdays. After Woolworth's she worked at Abbey bakeries, then Castle Lloyd's Printing, and Imperial Typewriters. She stopped work once she got married.

Patrick worked for Sowden's Building Contractors, based on Tudor Road. He was a pipe layer then and always stuck to the ground work up to when he retired.

Patrick Grady and his son Brendan in the back yard of Bakewell St.

Etta and Patrick had one son, Brendan, who was born in 1961 after they had just moved to Bakewell St. They had bought their first house at 58 Bakewell St for £900 and moved to the Uppingham Rd area in 1969.


Etta, Patrick and Brendan in his pram on Bakewell St.
For a while in the 1960s, Etta worked with Alice McCreesh selling tea towels, mist cloths, soaps etc on behalf of the blind and disabled. The work was door to door, 6-9 in the evenings: they were paid £3 a week but had to, at least, sell that amount of stuff. After that they were on commission. 


“We would call to the council houses at the weekend, when they had money, and the private ones in the week.

Etta says she would go home twice a year when she was single and once a year once she was married and had a family. The only time she missed was the year she had her son.

Patrick, Etta and Brendan in the back yard of Bakewell St.

Upper Kent St has now gone and  would have been where Maidstone Rd now stands. Thanks to Dennis Calow at Vanished Leicester for the photo.

Vanished Leicester is part of a fantastic resource, My Leicestershire , which is part of The 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 or join The Irish in Leicester group on Facebook.
Click here to view a map of The Irish in Leicester.