By Pauline Hannigan

My childhood home in the Fifties was a large two-storey terraced house situated on a hill that ran from the local Primary School at the top to the District Courthouse at the bottom.

There were 4 children in my family; my eldest brother Liam was blond and good-looking and 5 years my senior. My brother Brian, two years younger than Liam, was dark-haired and handsome like my mother, and my sister Maura was a strawberry-blonde and very spoilt.

Two years older than me, she was the first girl in the family and adored by both parents. I was the youngest and least significant member of the family. Small and quiet I lived in my sister’s shadow. The local accent was flat and featureless but unlike my siblings, I spoke with a Dublin accent like my father, as I emulated him in everything.

Our house looked out onto a wide road. On the opposite side was a row of small terraced houses that had been built many years before for British army personnel. The road was our playground where we spent our time skipping and playing hopscotch while the boys played marbles and swapped comics.

There was no danger from traffic as there were few cars around at the time. The district nurse’s car was the only one to come by on a regular basis and from time to time an ambulance could be seen approaching on its way to the local hospital.

In those days we played outside in winter and summer and only went home for meals. It was unthinkable back then for parents to check on their children. We were never allowed to eat on the street as that was considered to be ‘low class’ but it wasn’t unusual at the time to see a child eating a slice of bread and jam while playing outside.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own