“I grew up in Limerick, Ireland but I’ve lived in Bunratty for over 40 years. I am 81 and was born in April 1942. I was too young to remember World War ll, but my mom said people were terrified. Ireland was a neutral country with a tiny military — we would have been prized pickings.The Irish should be grateful to Winston Churchill for stopping Hitler before he arrived.
My mom had ten children. She was 28 when she got married; my father was 33. We used to say my mother loved to take the craic with her. Craic is an Irish word that means you are having a great time. My father painted the gold gilding in cathedrals all over Ireland. Back then, they worked six days a week.
When I was 18 and my sister was 21, we went to work in the U.S. because Ireland was very poor with no possibilities for women to climb the ladder. A woman could have a job, but she would lose it after she married. My sister and I took governess jobs in New York City with a millionaire family who had five children. They paid our airfare and a small wage, then raised the wage if we stayed longer than six months. A lot of women took governess jobs just to get to America.
Getting a Visa to the U.S. wasn’t easy. We went to the embassy in Dublin for three days of tests and exams. The first day, we had to strip naked for a doctor to examine us for defects. They didn’t want anyone who would be a burden on the U.S. health system. The second day, we were interviewed about American politics; at least I knew who the president was. The third day, they told us we were accepted. Some weren’t and walked out crying. My sister and I put up a hand, swore allegiance to the United States, and boarded a plane to New York City. We had a great time, and our family was good to us. Now one of my children lives in Manhattan, and I love to visit.
I returned to Ireland, married, and had two beautiful children. I had a long marriage, but I am a widow now. A group of us ‘golden oldies’ volunteer to keep our village looking nice. I put flower arrangements in the bus stops and sweep out the leaves that are beginning to fall and blow in. The men keep the grounds and do building projects. We love our village and want to keep it looking nice for everyone else who lives here or visits. What else would we do?”