It was a Monday morning, just six days before Easter Sunday, that Eileen arrived. The path was prepared and pattern set by her almost four year old brother and sister aged two. By the time she was twelve, the family had reached the full compliment of seven children and her mother and father. They lived over the corner shop, owned and run by her mother. Her father was a Cooper at a local brewery.
Eileen’s father was a quiet serious man not known for a sense of humour, yet Eileen was the only one to get away with devilment. As a young girl she was diagnosed with an acute appendicitis and her father walked with her from the South Circular Road, in Dublin, to the Meath Hospital, for admission and surgery. Once over that hurdle, she never looked back.
She had the quick wit of her mother and a head for figures, a gift her mother put to good use in the shop. Back in those days customers often paid for the groceries at the end of each week, so records were hand written into a large book. Eileen quickly mastered the cross and long tots, which eased the load for her mother. At sixteen she left school and went to work at Cassidy’s Ladies Fashions in George’s Street in Dublin. She never complained, but she knew she was going to work so that her brothers could be educated.
Photo of Eileen at 17
She had a good eye for fashion and particularly hats so was moved to the Millinery department which she loved. In those days, unlike today, ladies hats came in different sizes. The were stored in large deep drawers or glass cabinets.
Eileen at work in Cassidy’s.
She was light on her feet and loved to dance and was never short of a partner. Lilly, one of her aunts, was a wonderful seamstress and took great pleasure in creating dance dresses for Eileen. She often told of a green fabric she saw in Denis Guiney’s window, on her way to the Custom House, On the way back she went to purchase enough for a floor length dress. The grumpy salesman told her that since it was in the window she would have to come back the next week when the displays were changed, he could not remove it before that.
Another dance dress.
Years later he said he remembered that day and thought the colour would look well on her! That grump became her husband and my father!
Mammy & Daddy on her wedding day.
With time they had a family, but it was not all an easy journey. Of her nine pregnancies, her first and penultimate babies were still born and the third survived for five hours. The remaining six are still going our various ways, having nurtured our own families and for some there is another new generation following on.
Nana & Dan with their six children in 1955
Two years after the birth of my sister, the baby in the photo above, mammy had a serious heart attack. To her horror she was not allowed to eat butter, fat or cream, she was to cut out using the stairs e.g. come down in the morning and not go back up until bedtime! The loo was upstairs, What was she supposed to do…. Tie her legs in a knot? 😡 She was not to stand if she could sit and not to sit is she could lie down! How those ideas have changed! It is just as well, since mammy had little chance of sticking to them.
One year later Daddy was ill and in and out of hospital for a year. Mammy’s health issues were put on the back burner while looking after him. They both kept going, with health lifting and dropping like a temperature gauge.
Despite all the hurdles, mammy never lost her sense of fun, She became a great cook, a wonderful mother and great friend.
So to day on her Hundredth birthday, may we all drink a toast to her memory (tea would be appropriate, it was her favourite tipple), share the happy memories and listen carefully for her laughter!
Eileen Molony nee Moloney 1914 – 1996