It’s difficult for many of us today to imagine all the children in the family being bathed in a galvanised bath by the fireside, or not having the simple luxury of a toilet in our homes, but this was a reality for many people who were raised in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown some decades ago. The schooling system, by many accounts, was harsh. Money was tight for some families and food was simple, not plentiful. It was undoubtedly a very different time to grow up in when compared to the comforts we often take for granted nowadays.

Despite this, interviewees shared so many fond memories of growing up here. Entire days spent playing with neighbours on the beach, waiting on the bridge for the steam trains to go by below and enjoying the simple pleasure of butter and jam sandwiches after a dip in the Dún Laoghaire Baths.

“There was nine of us, but we had bunk beds. So we were all together. We didn’t have rooms to ourselves… we only had two bedrooms… God help them, they (my parents) never really got anything to themselves. Daddy was only 49 when he died, and then Mammy was only 59. But they were just like, getting on their feet… and having a few bob just to spend… It grounds you when you know the value of things.” – Beaufort Day Care Centre Member

Left: ‘Mews House on Clifden Lane (where the Lambert Puppet Theatre was).’ Photo courtesy of Carole Cullen

“Devitt Villas never had a bathroom. They never put them in… We had it (a bath) in front of the fire when we were young. The galvanised bath you’d have. And because I was the only girl in the
family I’d go first. And we used to think that carbolic soap was lovely. The red one, and then you had the ‘Sunlight’, which was white, and Lifebuoy. Oh, I can recall the smell of it now quite easily.” – Beaufort Day Care Centre Member

“We left Dún Laoghaire when I was five and a half. It’s funny. I have more memories of my years there than any other time in my life. And I can still experience the emotions that I felt way back. Happy memories.” – Mount Merrion Friendship Club Member

“Oh yeah, the Seven Churches before Easter and Holy Thursday. You went around, you had to visit seven churches. And the churches would be very decorated with candles and flowers, but the whole thing was who’d finish the seven (laughter)? I don’t think I ever did.” – Leopardstown Park Day Centre Member

“I liked school, but the Reverend Mother was very cross. But I never
let her away with anything. She used to call me Josie and I hated it, so one day I stood up and said, “Me name’s not Josie. My mother paid seven and six for my Christening name”. – Josephine Willoughby, Shankill Day Care Centre Member

“They were very hard on us, the teachers and nuns. We were sort of classified as orphans because we had a mother, but no father. But there was no mercy, you know?… The only mercy they had was written on the gate.” – Kathleen Clarke, Shankill Day Care Centre Member

“We didn’t really eat out. On birthdays my father sometimes brought us to the café above the cinema. The cinemas all hadcafes. And we had rashers and eggs and sausages. The Pavilion (in Dún Laoghaire), the Savoy which was opposite the Gresham, and the Adelphi, which was around the corner from the GPO. And it wasn’t expensive. And then he’d bring us to the Pictures.” – Mount Merrion Friendship Club Member

Above: ‘Children’s bathing place, Dún Laoghaire.’ Photo courtesy of dlr Local Studies (dlr LexIcon), Séamus Kearns Postcard Collection

“I went to school in Loreto (Foxrock) in 1942 to 48. They were turning out ‘Ladies’… Well, they didn’t turn me into a lady!” – Mount Merrion Friendship Club Member

“Our house looked down to the park and over to the sea between Booterstown and Blackrock. We spent all our time in the sea and playing games. At night-time, there were two tunnels and the tide used to go out so we’d go down and we’d all play. We’d build shops and hospitals and houses with the sand. And then the older girls would come along, and they would judge it. And we got lozenges if we won, the sweets, you know? We had a lot of fun down there, we had to make all our own fun. Then chasing and skipping, and we’d go over and have a swim. Come back for a big lump of bread and jam, and out with the skipping rope and we’d just play around. And we used to, when the trains were coming, the engine trains, not the Dart now, we used to all run down and we’d be on the bridge and let all the steam come up over us.” – Josephine Willoughby, Shankill Day Care Centre Member

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