Author Topic: Memories  (Read 1734 times)

Taggart 009

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Memories
« on: October 24, 2006, 12:31:55 AM »
his story is taken from an interview with Mary Mulligan,

The streets just had brick-built air-raid shelters. There was a small end there, and then you could come out, and then a large bit - it was built in 3 parts. But if you lived on the front of the road like I did, on the Springfield Road, they couldn’t build them on the front of a main road where there was trams and all going up and down. So we were provided with a thing called, I think it was Morrison — there were Anderson shelters and Morrison shelters, but I think maybe this was a Morrison shelter. And it was, you used it instead of a table, and it was about 6 ft long and about 4 ft wide. When you put it in your kitchen there was room for nothing else. And it had wires round each side, and a big heavy steel top on it. And you were forever bumping into it, you know? It was really very awkward in your house.
And when we had the worst blitz of all, my mother and father and the new baby 4 others all got into the cupboard under the stairs. But there was no room for my sister and I, so we were put in under the shelter. And we lived just close to Mackie’s Foundry, where they were making the munitions. So they were always having a go for it. But about, we were in these things for about 3 hours when suddenly a bomb came over. And I never ever heard anything as loud in all my life! Just whistled over the roof. And as soon as that happened, my mother said we were to get in there as well. Because I think, even afterwards when I thought about it, I was about 8 at the time, she was probably thinking “If were’re gonna go, we’ll go together”. So we went in and crouched together in there for a couple of hours. But I can remember the next morning, everybody going down Springfield Avenue to find out where exactly the bomb had fallen, and there was a great big big hole where it was, you know? And it wasn’t far from Mackay’s, either. That was another time when they didn’t get us. They never hit Mackay’s.

No [injuries]. Most people around there would have walked up the Falls road and gone as far up as they could, even up the Springfield road. Near the mountains, that was a good — we used to go up there.

When York St mill fell on the houses. Remember there was a lot of people killed then.
The mill was hit and it came down onto those, something like that, but the houses all got ht with mill when the mill came down on them. It was a wee street, a wee small street of terraced houses, you know?
It must have been round about where Henry St are now, I just couldn’t tell you off-hand. It would take someone who lived down that way. You know what I mean?
But I remember them saying how many was killed when the mill was hit, you know?

I had an aunt and uncle who lived on the Whitewell road, and they had the blast of a landmine, and they couldn’t live in their house any more. They had to live up the Springfield Road until they were rebuilt again after the war. But I didn’t know what they were looking for, up the Whitewell road.
My father was an ARP warden, I know that for a fact. After the war, you know we still had them for a while,
Somebody must have told you about the night of the big Ceili. There was a big, oh yes there was. One of the nights of the blitz, there was a big Ceili and everyone had to stay in. In the Ulster Hall.
Some girl who sang the whole night to keep people amused.
My sister was at that Ceili.

It was during the blitz. The warning went on when they were in the dance. The people were at the dance, we call it a Ceili — it was Irish dancing. And the sirens went off, so nobody could leave. It was safer for them to stay where they were.
So the girl sang the whole night, and tried to dance and entertain to keep the people going. It was the Ulster Hall, I’m nearly sure it was the Ulster Hall.
Oh, they were there till the early hours of the morning til the all clear went.

[community spirit]
The people who were safe, they went out to see if they could help the people who had lost their houses. My mother and father just brought everybody in and gave them cups of tea. We were thankful that our back door was blown in and things like that, that was all. But it was the bending wall where the Abbey saved, where I lived, because I was halfway up, but the people went out to see how they could help others. It didn’t matter who, you just brought them in.
You’d take them in as much as you could, and give them tea and that. And some of them maybe had relations lived in other parts of the town, and then they would head to the other parts when they knew it was safe enough to go. Because this is, north Belfast was really bad. Atlantic avenue where the baby was found in the house and the house was burned and they could hear this baby crying. So all around there was, because it was a landmine came down, because they thought the waterworks was the docks. That’s why the Antrim Road got it so badly. And that was the Sunday night one. And in the air raid shelter, the floral hall wouldn’t habve been on that night. But the air raid shelter at Atlantic avenue, and there was people killed in it.
That’ll be one I was telling you about. The brick-built air raid shelters.
We had one in front of our door at Oilworthy Avenue. 2 in Oilworth Avenue. One right in front, and one further down the street.
You see the Sunday night you’re talking about? I can remember we lived in a 3-storety house on the Springfield Rd. That’s west Belfast. And my mother went up to make the beds in the attic where the boys used to sleep, and she came down crying. And I asked her what was wrong, and she said “I’ve never seen the balloons up as high in all my life”. You know, the barrage balloons. So she said “They must thing something’s going to happen”. And that was the night of the Sunday night one.
You see, it was the Landmines was on those barrage balloons, that came down. Because there was a barrage balloon. I don’t know which night it was, either … I think it was along the top of Duncairn Gdns.
You know the way they used to put them up to keep aircraft from …? I think they used to keep them up as a precaution, a safety measure. Those barrage balloons. You remember seeing those in the sky?
Some of the landmines were on barrage balloons, and they came down. That was why they …
And there was also balloons put up to try and safeguard places, you know?
I was here, I wasn’t here for the Sunday but I was here for the Tuesday, Easter Tuesday. I wasn’t here for them.
There was 3, definitely 3.
But one of ours was the worst that any of them had, worse than Coventry.
The Easter Tuesday was the worst one of the lot. Easter Tuesday. Because I had just come in from the Empire when the sirens went, when I was getting into bed. That was the first one, Tuesday was the first one. The next one was a Sunday night, and then there was another one after that. There was definitely 3. Definitely 3. Because I was here for 2 of them. We went to the country, and my father was here for the third one on his own.
We were here for them all! We would go to the country if we knew anybody, and find out all their other friends were there as well, and all. Kids and everything. My mother would just get sick. You see, you had to go up to Belfast to get your rations if you were staying, so she’d say to my father “Oh, I can’t put up with this any more. Get them together and let’s go home”. We always came back in time for the next one. We never missed anything. The timing was very bad.
And we let people into our house. It was very hard to get them out. It was our own house. It was very hard to get them out. And my father was living in his own house in a small return room, with a wee electric ring. And he used to put his teapot on in the morning, for he worked in Shorts at the time, and put his egg in it, and then made his tea. That’s honest to god. And his teabag.
And this family was living in our house, and she was using our nice front bedroom to do hairdressing. Which we’d a wash-hand basin in our bedroom, it was the only one they had because the builder, we were in a house that the builder had built. That was very posh then. And she used that as a hairdressing salon. And my father in a wee return room. I wouldn’t have done it.
No relation to us at all. Just their house had be numbered too, the side of their house got bombed. And they were an auld dog family. They were there for … my father was too soft, and let them in because we were taken to the country. And they moved in. they were no relation to us at all.
When we were taken to the country they used to call us “the wee evacuees”.
But the point was, we had to say we were coming back and we wanted the house. And we had an awful job getting them out to get in. And they got a house then on the other side of the road. But they thought it was their house, not our house. I mean that. I wasn’t very …
There was water [in their house]. But the side of it was blitzed. The side was knocked down. And then my father took pity on them, and then he got them and he couldn’t get them out. And we just came back from the country and said we were back, and my mummy just sent them packing.
3 of us and the baby was 8 weeks old. We still remained friends and all. The photographs, I took those people in the photographs. By that time they lived on the other side of the street. But that’s the trouble we had in our own house, trying to get people out. Sometimes you help people and it’s the worst thing you can do, you know? But that morning after the blitz, my father just took anybody at all in. The cooker was going all the time, the kettle was boiling, just making cups of tea and that. It didn’t matter who they were. But that makes the people, if they went out to help. There wasn’t an awful lot of panic. I can’t remember any panic, just people were just trying to help.