Bernadette Roberts née McNamara

Interview by Eileen Carroll on August 13, 2009

Gender: Female

Birth date: 1926 -2017

Area: West Clare - Kilkee Lower

Report date: December 9, 2015

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Time Description
File 1 0:00:00 - 0:01:56 SCHOOLS' FOLKLORE SCHEME - Bernadette speaks of the 1937/38 Folklore Scheme at school with Ms Cromwell. The best story was taken from the weeks supply and the pupil would get the honour of writing it into the ledger. Her father told her a story about the seals at Poll Gorm, which is beyond George's Head and she got to write it in the ledger. Years later she was told that he had made it all up. She says she was about 12 at the time.
0:01:57 - 0:16:40 SCHOOL - Bernadette lists the subjects they did at school. She recalls them doing a play. She says Bishop Fogerty was ill when it came to their confirmation day so they had one of his secretaries instead. She was asked a question on indulgences. She remembers sitting a primary school exam and then she went to St Xavier's Convent of Mercy School in Kilrush for four years, which was an all-Irish school. She had an aunt who was a teacher in Carrigaholt. Sister Mary Alacoque was the head in Kilrush. Her teachers were Miss O'Kelly for maths; Siobhan Manning from Kerry and Miss Tracy the French teacher and Miss O'Carroll was her English teacher. Very little Irish was spoken in her family. Her grandmother was a native Irish speaker. They travelled to school on the West Clare Railway. They had a choir in school and she recalls the School Choir Feis every year in Ennis. She speaks of the Gregorian Plain Chant. They did no sport. They got a three monthly ticket on the train. During exam times they would miss the last train and they would have to get lifts. They were warned by the Reverend Mother not accept lifts from reps; not to accept chocolates and not to swim with the boys. She describes the uniform. She did her Leaving in 1942. Her friend Mary's father, (O'Dea), had a pub in Kilrush and she would go with her to the pub for lunch.
0:16:41 - 0:22:22 GOING TO ENGLAND - When Bernadette left school she worked for a short while as a junior assistant mistress in one of the local primary schools. She says the inspector was cross when she said she wanted to go nursing in England instead of teaching. She went to England in 1943 with her friend Mary. She describes the journey to the hospital in London. She got a holiday once a year. She found it hard to return to England. She had six years with the Royal Airforce Nursing Service. She speaks of the sea crossing and journey from England to Ireland. As soon as she could she flew. She speaks of her first time flying-it was a Pan Am from London to Dublin and then a small plane to Shannon.
0:22:23 - 0:24:56 TRANSPORT - Bernadette says there was very few cars in Kilkee-Andy Devine had one. The O'Deas had one. Her father got a 'sit up and beg' Ford. Her father had an aunt in Labasheeda and once a year they would have a day there and they would hire a car to get there. There was a family in Grattan St who had a car. She speaks of the West Clare Railway and when it stopped.

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