In this extract Hugh Smullen talks about his perceptions of older people when he was a child. He notes that everybody looked older than they were at that time, he attributes this to the fact that there was a lot of drink and very little money. He thinks that women in particular suffered a lot and as a result they aged before their time.

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And at what age did you think people became old, like, what were the sounds that told you they were old … as a child?

They were old younger really … weren't they? Like, when they were old they were… younger people looked old …

Like, yeah, everyone looked old to us! And like, even the young people, young mothers, em they looked old because...they did... a lot of them aged before their time, you see there was a lot of drink, there was little money... and any money that some of them had they would spend it on drink. So the young women suffered a lot and they would age well before their time and they would look old, everyone … I can’t remember anyone looking young really.

Would that be their skin you mean?

The skin, yeah, and they wouldn’t have makeup like now or anything…

And they seemed to always dress in black.

Yeah, they wouldn’t have bright colours the way older people are now, and that... they’d black... they always seemed to be in dark clothes and they wouldn’t … they’d wear the same thing all the time because they didn’t have anything you know, they... they always seemed to be old, didn’t they? Yeah.


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Ageing, Expectations



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"Hugh Smullen talks about his perceptions of older people when he was a child.." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #139 (accessed February 23 2018, 4:51 am)