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Joan Duffy, a Dublin woman, mother of six and grandmother to 11, lived in Baldoyle for 35 years before retiring to Ballivor in Co Meath where she now lives a full and active life.
Joan dedicates this book to her beloved mother Caroline, her dear father Charlie and darling brother CJ (Chuck) who all struggled with cancer before finally passing on. She has very happy memories of them all.
Words of thanks from the author:
I wish to thank my lovely, kind and patient husband for all his support and all my family members, sisters, sister-in-law and many dear friends. You were always there for me. A special thank you to my son Niall, for taken all the photographs. Also to my editor Audrey Thank you Audrey for your lovely comment on my book and your helpful and wonderful advice which I took on board.
This is a book of short stories taken from a personal account of a young girl brought up in the Liberties of Dublin in the 1940s.
Joan Duffy was born on the North Side of the Quays in Smithfield in 1940 where herself and her younger sister were known as War Babies. At 3 months old her family moved across the Liffey to the South side to a flat complex called Oliver Bond House, part of the liberties of Dublin.
A time of much poverty, love and laughter; which depicts the character of the times she lived in and the grip that the catholic church had on society.
THE HOLY COMMUNION DRESS
One day I came home from school feeling very sad and said to Mam `There's a girl in my class who's little sister is making her Holy Communion, and they are very poor. Her mammy has no money at all to buy clothes for her. They lived on the Island and they had lots of kid's, so straight away My Mam said, 'oh I have that lovely material I only just bought for Liz I could run her up a dress and get more material for Liz.` I was delighted. Mam said, she'd go ask the woman first, as she only knew the woman to see. So later on after tea, Mam called to the woman Mam came back, and said the woman would be delighted, and that it was an answer to a prayer, as her husband was out of work, and they had ten children. So a few days later after measuring the little girl, my mam made the most beautiful dress you ever saw in your whole life It was knee length, with a very full skirt, and with a good swing on it, it had tiny little pink and blue rose buds, gathered round a false pocket, made of lace, on both sides of the dress. When the dress was finished, my mam took it around to the woman. Mam was as proud as punch, as the dress was really gorgeous on the little girl. The mother and father were delighted, and the woman said she'd remember my mother in her prayers. And that's all my mam really wanted; her good deed done.
However, A few weeks later, Mam got the shock of her life. It was the Saturday of the Holy Communion Mam was there with my little sister, who was also making hers when she spotted the woman in the grounds. Everyone was looking at each others children, and putting a few pennies in their hands. Mam went over to the little girl to see her all dressed up. But my mother nearly passed out, when she pulled back the girls coat and saw the child was wearing a completely different dress! The child was wearing a very plain dress. Her mother pulled the coat across the child very quickly, she said I got it cheap, there was a stain on it. My Mam was in shock, and when she got back her friend, said to her 'Mrs Lynn! have you seen a ghost or something? You look so pale'. My mam never told her. But when she got home she cried her eyes out, for having been taken in by the woman.
A few weeks later, my Mam met her on Queen Street bridge, and my mam asked her out straight, like my Dad told her to. Why she didn't let the girl wear the dress, but she told my Mam to mind her own business, which she did from that day on. She never wanted to know, who needed what, after that. She worked far too hard In fact, she worked so hard, getting up at the crack of dawn, out to Mass every day of her life, shopping in Thomas St, in and out of Frawleys, looking for material to make clothes for us, or buying fabric for our home, to make curtains, bed spreads, chair covers, sheets, always making and matching thing And that was back in the `40's, before the idea ever came about and not the easy way it's done today.
She also knitted every cardigan and jumper that ever went on us. She made our petticoats, and my brothers' shirts she always made us pinnies to go over our dresses in summer, to keep our clothes clean, if we went out to play or while waiting for her to get ready, to go out with us. She also did crochet. She made beautiful table wear, which was admired by everyone who called. My Grandma told me that when Mam was a little girl, she hand sewed and embroidered her first Irish dancing costume. But of course we didn't appreciate it at the time, and wondered why she always seemed in bad humor, when we'd come home on Wednesdays, looking for our half-a-crown for Irish dancing. She had been a great Irish dancer in her day, and danced for the Lily Comeford School, and had medals to prove it. She often danced the blackbird for us at hooleys at me Grannies.
By Joan Duffy