My grandfather is from Northern Ireland, and lived in Belfast during the troubles. I thought it would be interesting to interview him about it, so here it is!
What is your earliest memory?
When I was about three, my mother sent me to the corner store to get some cakes and I walked passed the shop until I reached the city centre! I was lost and a policeman brought me home!
What was it like living in a place where there was trouble?
When I lived in Belfast the main trouble was friction between Catholics and Protestants. This was because most catholics (including us) wanted to remove the border beteen Northen Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Protestants wanted to stay part of Britain. This made it difficult for catholics to get jobs because most firms were owned by protestants. In catholic areas e.g the Falls road, most people were unemployed and very poor.
Did you go to school?
I went to Holy Family school in Belfast.These were my happiest days in Belfast. I did well and won two scholarships to High School, St.Malachys and Belfast Tech. My parents chose the wrong one and I was sent to Belfast Tech. a protestant school where I was bullied by pupils and teachers because I was a catholic. I passed the exams but left after one year and started work at age fifteen.
What did teachers and parents use as punishment?
The teachers used leather straps. My father hit us with his hand. There wasnt much Psychology in those days! Only physical punishment!
How did you feel about moving to Australia?
I didn’t like the idea at first but when I saw the lovely sunshine and living conditions I fell in love with Australia.
Did you settle in quickly?
Yes. I got a job within 2 days and bought a bike on hirepurchase for 25 pounds. I cycled everywhere. Canberra was vey small then,- pop.20000 ! We got a house in Narrabundah.
Did all your family come with you?
Yes my father came first under the migrant scheme and my mother travelled with 6 kids for 6 weeks on board a ship called – Somersetshire!!!
Do you like Australia? What are the positives and what are the negatives?
My word, I love Australian way of life, althogh I still call my self “Ïrish”. Positives- no bigitory against other religions – The weather – Good working conditions – Friendly people – I love that we can live in a nice city and in 2.5 hours be at the coast or 30 minute drive to the bush – I like being 5 minutes to a good golf course – Good schools – Plenty of parks and playing fields – Clean environtment. And I couldnt have married Grandma and none of you would be here!!
Negatives- I can’t think of anything except being to far away from Europe and the Roberts!
I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you to my awesome Grandpa!
Until the next post,