Patty Fagan (Nee Carter)

Maria McGrane Courtesy of Patty Fagan Family Archive
Dancing in a ballroom in Parnell St when they were snapped by a professional photographer
Patty Carter Family Archive

Patty was born in Wolftone St just off Mary St in central Dublin. She and her family were re-housed to the flats in Sheriff St. due to the tenements in which they lived having been condemned. The family moved into 77, St. Bridget’s Gardens, when Patty was 6 years old. She’s the eldest of four children. Patty being the only girl. When they were notified by Dublin Corporation that they were being rehoused she heard her parents discussing the move. Her father asked her Mum, “Rosie, where is this place?” Her mother replied “I don’t know, but what I do know is that we can still walk to the pillar from wherever it is!” This was important to her because Patty’s grandmother, and her aunties were street traders. Her Granny, Maggie Carter, sold at the pillar and she later moved her stall to Moore St., where Patty’s aunties had their stalls.

Patty attended St Laurence O’Toole’s Girls National School until she was thirteen and a half years old. She left school to begin work in the International Meat Company in Grand Canal St. where her dad worked. She worked there for two years and then moved on to Foxe’s Sweet Company.

At approximately 22 or 23 years of age she moved to London to find work as many youngsters of the period did. It was there that she met the love of her life Tony.  She and Tony have a daughter together. They returned from London when her mother became very ill and they remained here ever since. Tony worked on the Cunard Line and he sailed all around the world. One of the regular destinations his ship moored in was Singapore. Although this life at sea sounded very glamorous Patty recalls that it was anything but. He sadly passed away nine years ago.

Patty and her daughter Alison recently went on a cruise and visited all of the exotic places that Tony had told them stories of when he sailed abroad. They celebrated his 9th anniversary mass in Singapore that he had spoken of.

Patty recalls that the happiest times of her life in Sheriff St was her childhood. Everyone was the same back in those days and if anyone had anything extra they shared that with their neighbours. Summers were spent going to the beach. Whichever mother was going would often take the children from other families and they played all day long on the beach. They got there on the back of a lorry driven by one of the local dad’s at the weekends. The dads would set up a fire in a barrel on the beach or nearby and cook a pot of coddle or stew and everyone would be fed out of the one pot.

She recalled Christmas and New Year’s Eve being particularly special. Some of their neighbours, Mr. Fagan and Michael Crowley both played accordions and they would stand out in the centre of the flats playing songs and singing. The neighbours joined in. The competition was mighty between them. In the background fireworks would be set off from the moored boats in the river a street behind where they lived.

She missed the flats something terrible when she left. While she lived there, she never felt lonely. If you felt a bit low in yourself and went out onto the balcony, a neighbour would inevitably come out and chat to you, offering kind words of support. It wasn’t the same living on a street. People just didn’t come out to chat in the same way , eventually she got used to it.

Patty’s photo of herself, my mother’s youngest sister Helen and their other friend Marie Hughes are photographed in the Kingsway Ballroom off Parnell St. They were best friends. My aunt Helen died when she was just 29 years of age, leaving eight small children behind her, the youngest, Elizabeth was only 3 months old. She became my sister just before her Mother’s death. You can see this photo under Children of Sheriff St. and above.

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