“My father was a great man, he sacrificed his life for his family. There wasn’t any work here so he had to go to the UK and work very hard to keep us alive back in Ireland. I was his only son and he had three more daughters. He could only come home twice a year, but whenever he was at home he would take me to the All Ireland and to big GAA matches… Only me and him! Without my sisters, I remember feeling so proud walking beside him. He wanted me to become a GAA player and I’ll never forget, one day he sent me a pair of football boots. One of the old-fashioned ones with an ankle protector on the side. I felt ten feet tall in them. It was a big deal! Back then nobody on my team had proper shoes not to mention real football boots… Every time he came home he would see the difference in us and he was heartbroken, he knew he was missing out on our childhood. At the time there was an anti-Irish feeling in the UK, it was when there were ‘NO Blacks, NO Dogs, NO Irish’ signs everywhere and the IRA started bombing cars. Every time he had to leave his family, he had to go back to work in this very hostile environment; but he never said a word, never complained, he just gave us a big hug and said ‘see you soon! My father was a wonderful man…”
This interview was taken as part of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum’s Story Collecting Weekend.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum and Europeana.eu invited people to share their experiences of migration with us, be it Irish people who had emigrated, or those who now call Ireland home. EPIC tells the story of Irish emigration in 20 interactive digital galleries. It’s a story that spans 1,500 years through history and has left a legacy across the globe. It’s also an experience that many other people and nationalities share. Come and visit us! We open daily in Dublin’s Docklands. Visit www.epicchq.com for more details.