Living life to the full – London's Irish Pensioners at Christmas
Life & Style

Living life to the full – London's Irish Pensioners at Christmas

 

Mary Allen, age 85

From Waterford, living in Camden for 66 years

What do you like here, and what do you miss from home?

“I love the comradery here, it’s really lovely. Everybody’s happy and they get together and celebrate together. Back home, people stay in their own homes at Christmas, we tend to go to friends and have big gatherings. I miss the laid back atmosphere in Ireland though. If I could get anything this year it would be to have my husband and my son back.”

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Mary Talbot, age 97

From Galway, living in Camden for 77 years

When did you arrive in England and what’s changed most at home since then?

“I came here a year before the war and then that broke out, I was working as a nurse at the time in Margate hospital where all the soldiers were coming. The biggest change I’ve seen in Ireland is that they miss me mostly! I love this time of year, having the decorations up. It was my husband’s birthday on Christmas Day so it always meant a lot to us.”

Michael Carolan, Photo by Malcolm McNally
Michael Carolan, Photo by Malcolm McNally

Michael Carolan, age 80

From Louth, living in Stamford Hill since 1992

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What’s the best thing about living in England for you?

“Getting together with the Irish people here is great and there’s always dances and that, I love it. I go back home about twice a year. I sort of lived between Ireland and London since 1954, I was back and forth. I’ve so many friends here I eventually decided to settle here in 1992. Most of my friends did come here to England anyway so I love it here now. The Irish Government are very good, they give us a very generous pension and we don’t have to worry about money in our old age.”

Mary Murphy, age 83

From Waterford, living in Camden for 60 years

Why do you like coming to the Centre?

“I love Christmas, I’ve three children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and I’m very lucky they all live near me so we all get together and I love coming to the centre. I was very lonely when my husband died and Mary Allen mentioned ‘why don’t you come to the centre?’ and I never looked back, that’s four years ago. I’m involved in everything, I love it. I’d be here around three times a week.”

Liz Waddell, age 81

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From Carlow, living in Ealing for 51 years

What do you like, and dislike about this time of year?

“I love this time of year, the Christmas cheer and the music, family time. But as I get older I like it less because some of the family are gone now so I don’t like it as much. I haven’t been back in Ireland in about 10 years now because I’ve no family there anymore but I’d love to go back 30 years when we were all together.”

Mary Jones, age 76

From Donegal, living in Ealing for 57 years

What’s the biggest change in Ireland since you were younger?

“The change in Ireland is unbelievable since I lived there. I was over in April to see my sister and my nephew told me he had my room done up and the en suite and all – and we used to have to go across the yard to the toilet when I was a kid!”

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 You have to live life to the full and keep going, that’s why I love being a pensioner – there’s great freedom to do things with it Josephine Toan

 

Josephine Toan, over 80

From Clare, living in Ealing since she was 17

What are you plans for Christmas?

“I’ll go to my daughter for Christmas but I’ve four birthdays before Christmas and I’ve got five granddaughters and four grandsons so lots of presents to be got. But you have to live life to the full and keep going, that’s why I love being a pensioner – there’s great freedom to do things with it.”

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Delia Lewis Photo by Malcolm McNally Delia Lewis Photo by Malcolm McNally

Delia Lewis, age 85

From Roscommon, living in Camden for 54 years

What’s changed most since you left Ireland for England?

“It’s unbelievable at home, it’s not like Ireland any more. The young people are so different now. I haven’t been back for a couple of years but it was so different. The young people’s values have changed. I’d love to see something good happening in Ireland.”

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You can support The London Irish Centre Christmas Appeal by donating online at www.justgiving.com/londonirishcentre or by texting  LICX15 £10 to 70070 to donate £10. To donate in person, please call 0207 916 2222 to arrange a cheque or cash donation.