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:

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, 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:

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.