In this extract Hugh Smullen remembers when his father died and things became very difficult for his mother. He talks about her strategies for surviving the poverty of the time when there was no welfare or little by way of state support. He remembers she used to work in a chicken factory and that often she would take eggs from the factory home with her in order to feed himself and his siblings.

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Were you the oldest of … ?

I’m the eldest of six children and my father died when he was 37 so I was about 13 when he died, around that, yeah.

And at that point you moved back to your mum?

At that point, see both my grandparents died, they all died in that time, it was 1941 and that point then you see I moved back then with my mother, my father had died then you see so I lived there for a while but then things were very bad, she originally was a two room cottage and she lived there with her mother and father, they all lived there …

Right, this is on Blessington … ?

No, this was in Grenville Lane you see and then,, both her parents died, you see, and then her husband died and then she was there then with six children, yeah and … in them days you know there were no handouts so right across from where we lived was a factory that em… chicken and rabbits and that thing, they’d come up from the country and they...they eh...were wholesalers and they’d … with eggs and chickens and rabbits and they would em … my mother worked as a cleaner then there … she used to … when she’d be coming home then after...she used to put the eggs in her bucket and bring them out! So that they could be … they were eh free if you like! And that … these things had to be done those days, you see …


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Childhood, Relative deprivation



Date Added



"Hugh Smullen talks about when his father died and how difficult things were for his mother.." Lifescapes: Mapping Dublin Lives, Item #202 (accessed February 23 2018, 4:50 am)